You have to give Congressman John Murtha points for creativity. Almost every day, Murtha finds a brand new way to disgrace the US Congress he sits in, or the Marine uniform he once wore.
He wrongly convicted some of our military heroes in the court of public opinion by claiming ab”massacre” of which they were later cleared (and he still hasn’t apologized). He hasn’t fessed up to his mistake and apologized. Neither has he apologized for being named by the Citizens Against Government Waste for being the biggest government waste Porker in Congress getting almost two thirds of the vote.
Murtha’s also had that little $2,000 shopping spree at a recent NRA convention using campaign funds. The Second amendment give him the right to buy guns at an NRA convention …but he is supposed to do it WITH HIS OWN MONEY.
Murtha has a new scandal brewing. The FBI raided the offices of the PMA group, founded by a Murtha aide, and one of favorite Lobbying firms, that was on top of another raid of a Murtha buddy back in November.What they are finding out is that Murtha and his buddies at PMA Group operated their own little Earmark Factory:
Inside Murtha’s ‘earmark factory’
By: John Bresnahan
Over the course of the past decade, Rep. John P. Murtha has earmarked millions of dollars for the Electro-Optics Center at Penn State University — money that has, in turn, gone to clients of the PMA Group, the Murtha-linked lobbying shop that was raided in November as part of a federal criminal probe.
Founded in 1999 as a joint enterprise run by Penn State and the Office of Naval Research, the EOC promotes electronic research needed for state-of-the-art military equipment.
But sources familiar with the EOC’s operations say Murtha has used the center as a “front” for PMA and other lobbyists and contractors with ties to the Pennsylvania Democrat.
At least 10 PMA lobbying clients have received funding via the EOC, officials at the center acknowledged. Sources familiar with the EOC’s operations said the total that went to PMA clients ran into the “tens of millions of dollars.”
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Murtha has received $2.38 million in campaign contributions from PMA and its clients over the past 10 years.
“Welcome to the ‘earmark factory,’” said a person familiar with the EOC’s internal operations.
PMA has imploded in the wake of the federal raid on its offices. But sources inside and outside EOC say that before that raid took place, the center’s employees routinely reviewed their annual funding requests with then-PMA lobbyist Dan Cunningham and others at the firm, sending them memos detailing how much they were asking for each earmark and who was going to get it.
A source with long ties to the EOC said that Karl Harris, the center’s director, spent so much time at PMA’s office that “they had a designated space in which he could set up his stuff.”
Sources both inside and outside the EOC said Harris once told them that a Washington state contractor called nLight wouldn’t receive funding through the center — despite having made a request — because it had dropped PMA as its lobbying firm.
“Of course, we [learned] that nLight had just terminated PMA’s contract and so we could not do anything,” Harris wrote in a May 2006 e-mail message. “My only concern, between you and me, is I wonder what effect their dropping their contract with PMA will have on the viability [of] two FY07 plus-up requests.” “Plus-up” is the budgetary name for an earmark.
Harris did not return calls seeking comment.
Edward Liszka, director of defense-related research at Penn State with responsibility for the EOC, defended both Harris and the center.
“The EOC really doesn’t do lobbying, so if a company that the EOC is working with has PMA as a lobbyist, the EOC wouldn’t necessarily know that,” Liszka said in an interview. Liszka said he was “pretty confident there’s no connection between Karl Harris and PMA. There would be no reason to; he doesn’t need to have one. I know he’s visited their offices in the past, but we don’t need to talk to PMA about anything we do.”
However, internal EOC documents from recent years suggest that EOC officials were informed of which lobbying firms represented which of the corporate partners seeking funding.
For instance, an internal fiscal year 2003 document outlining requests for EOC projects being pushed by Murtha noted the name and contact information for each lobbyist seeking funding on behalf of a client. The document stated that Cunningham and another then-PMA lobbyist were seeking $27 million in funding for their clients, who included a Boeing subsidiary, a Texas company called DRS Infrared and a small California defense contractor.
In the end, Murtha was able to steer to those PMA clients — through the EOC — $9.5 million of the $27 million they sought.
Other internal EOC documents show a similar interest in which lobbying firms were representing which contractors — with special attention paid to PMA clients.
Sources inside and outside EOC say that Murtha used the center as a conduit for earmarks directed at Kuchera Industries, a Pennsylvania-based company that was raided by federal authorities earlier this year. In an April 28, 2006, e-mail to an EOC employee, Harris said he had “been told to help Bill Kuchera for nearly two years,” and that this direction “came directly from Mr. Murtha.”
Kuchera Industries received at least $1 million in federal funding through the EOC. Independently of the center, Murtha’s office announced in April 2007 that Kuchera Defense Systems was awarded a missile contract worth as much as $100 million. Federal Election Commission Records show that Kuchera and its employees have donated more than $65,000 to Murtha’s reelection campaign and leadership political action committee.
Murtha’s office defended the federal dollars given to the EOC as a worthwhile investment of taxpayer funds. Asked about the charge that he steered earmarks to PMA clients through EOC, Murtha’s office responded with a statement from Murtha spokesman Matthew Mazonkey, who said: “We are darn proud of Penn State’s Electro-Optics Center and the work they do to support our warfighter and to advance electro-optic technology.”
Mazonkey noted that the EOC will receive no earmarks from Murtha in the FY 2009 defense budget. Instead, the funding is block granted to the EOC through the Army, Navy, Air Force and Special Operations Command research programs and competitively bid.
Penn State’s Liszka said he was unaware of any contacts between the Justice Department or the FBI and either the EOC or the university. Murtha’s critics — especially some Pennsylvania Republicans — have privately urged investigators to look into the EOC’s operations.
Most of the EOC’s research involves work on fiber optics, infrared sensor systems, lasers and advanced exotic materials related to military programs. The facility has received more than $230 million from the federal government over the past decade, including $100 million from the Office of Naval Research alone. An ONR spokesman said the Navy was pleased with the research by the center.