A few months ago, the FBI raided the offices of the PMA group, founded by a Murtha aide, and one of the Pork King’s favorite Lobbying firm. What they found out is that Murtha and his buddies at the PMA Group operated their own little Earmark Factory.
At least Murtha has a good reason to be corrupt:
“If I’m corrupt, it’s because I take care of my district,” Mr. Murtha said. “My job as a member of Congress is to make sure that we take care of what we see is necessary. Not the bureaucrats who are unelected over there in whatever White House, whether it’s Republican or Democrat. Those bureaucrats would like to control everything. Every president would like to have all the power and not have Congress change anything. But we’re closest to the people.”… (Source Hot Air)
Many Congressmen, especially the junior ones are beginning to tire of the ethics violations of Murtha and his other friends in congress who were involved with PMA. Over the last month and a half, Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) has offered a resolution on seven separate occasions that would force the ethics committee to investigate the link between PMA contributions and earmarks. Each time a majority of Democrats has voted to table the resolution. The most recent attempts have seen more and more Democrats abandoning their leadership and voting for the investigation:
PMA scandal dogs Pelosi
By Susan Crabtree
Posted: 03/31/09 08:15 PM [ET]
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is under increasing pressure from conservative Democrats to provide political cover from GOP calls for an investigation into PMA Group, a now-defunct defense lobby under firm scrutiny for questionable campaign donations and earmarks.
Members of the conservative Blue Dog and centrist New Democrat coalitions are calling on Pelosi to fulfill her promise to set a new standard for congressional ethics by either shaking the ethics committee into action on the PMA controversy or providing an alternative resolution to the one offered repeatedly by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).
We have to have the ability to self-police or we’re going to lose credibility in this institution,” said Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.). “I would hope that the leadership would call on the ethics committee to open an investigation [into PMA].”
Kind, a former county prosecutor who once worked for former Sen. William Proxmire (D-Wis.) in his fight against wasteful spending, said he recognizes that Democratic leaders are barred from leaning directly on the committee to take action. But he said their publicly stated opinions would be enough to compel the committee to move.
“They have a voice that would be heard and would influence the rest of the caucus,” Kind said. He added that many of his Democratic colleagues feel the same way.
“There’s a lot of discussions on the floor, and growing concern,” Kind said. “As long as this is not dealt with in the right manner, it’s just going to be a cloud hanging over us.”
Pelosi’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Several Democratic leadership aides have labeled Republican calls for an ethics investigation as a politically motivated witch hunt, even though Flake regularly attacks Republican as well as Democratic earmarks.
“So far, the House has rejected his partisan attacks six times, which demonstrates that he is interested in scoring political points,” remarked one Democratic leadership aide.
Over the last month and a half, Flake has on seven occasions offered a resolution that would force the committee to investigate the link between PMA contributions and earmarks. Each time — most recently on Monday night — a majority of Democrats has voted to table the resolution.
Flake has shown no signs of giving up. Minutes after the resolution failed Monday, he offered it again, ensuring at least two votes this week on it. The next will take place Wednesday.
Rank-and-file members, particularly freshmen, usually do not vote against Democratic leaders on procedural motions. The last two votes to table Flake’s resolution, however, have attracted 25 Democratic votes, including several freshmen from fiscally conservative districts and a handful of more senior conservative Democrats.
Reps. Baron Hill (Ind.) and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (S.D.), both Blue Dog leaders, are among the Democrats who have supported Flake’s measure. Other Blue Dogs such as Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) are ready to defect and are angry that the ethics committee seems to be ignoring the issue and Democratic leaders aren’t coming up with a creative, more palatable form of Flake’s resolution, according to two lawmakers.
Shuler’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
When asked what form such a resolution would take, one Democratic lawmaker shrugged his shoulders.
“That’s not my job — it’s theirs,” the lawmaker remarked. “That’s what leadership is all about, and they need to show some on this issue.”
Pelosi’s close relationship with Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), the powerful veteran defense appropriator and the lawmaker with the longest history and most ties to PMA, puts her in an even more difficult bind. If she continues to ignore the growing controversy, as well as Flake’s resolution, she risks criticism from within the caucus and elsewhere that she is protecting her longtime friend over more politically vulnerable members from swing districts. Pelosi supported Murtha’s bid for majority leader after the 2006 elections.
Flake began offering his measures after news broke earlier this year that the FBI had raided PMA’s office and the home of its founder, Paul Magliochetti, who had worked closely with Murtha on the Appropriations Defense subcommittee in the 1980s.
Several newer members of Congress were motivated to run in part to help restore credibility to the House after the high-profile GOP corruption cases involving former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.). To them, voting against tabling Flake’s resolution is a way to preserve their Democratic majority by raising ethical standards, rather than a slap in the face of their Democratic leaders.
“I came to Congress in 2006 — it was the first elected office I had and I came with a very public approach,” said Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.). “The ethics committee has gotten a reputation that it doesn’t do anything, that people don’t trust it. This is a way to restore integrity to the process.”
Walz also reported a growing frustration about the PMA matter among members who were elected in 2006 and 2008.
“People feel it from the public — that there is an eroding trust in this institution and a frustration with business as usual,” he said. “I think at some point [Democrats] are going to have to deal with PMA.”