And it has Rep. John “Pork King” Murtha’s hands all over it:
More than 100 House members secured earmarks in a major spending bill for clients of a single lobbying firm — The PMA Group — known for its close ties to John P. Murtha , the congressman in charge of Pentagon appropriations.
“It shows you how good they were,” said Keith Ashdown, chief investigator at the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. “The sheer coordination of that would take an army to finish.”
PMA’s offices have been raided, and the firm closed its political action committee last week amid reports that the FBI is investigating possibly illegal campaign contributions to Murtha and other lawmakers.
No matter what the outcome of the federal investigation, PMA’s earmark success illustrates how a well-connected lobbying firm operates on Capitol Hill. And earmark accountability rules imposed by the Democrats in 2007 make it possible to see how extensively PMA worked the Hill for its clients.
In the spending bill managed by Murtha, the fiscal 2008 Defense appropriation, 104 House members got earmarks for projects sought by PMA clients, according to Congressional Quarterly’s analysis of a database constructed by Ashdown’s group.
Those House members, plus a handful of senators, combined to route nearly $300 million in public money to clients of PMA through that one law (PL 110-116).
And when the lawmakers were in need — as they all are to finance their campaigns — PMA came through for them.
According to CQ MoneyLine, the same House members who took responsibility for PMA’s earmarks in that spending bill have, since 2001, accepted a cumulative $1,815,138 in campaign contributions from PMA’s political action committee and employees of the firm.
James Joyner adds:
That’s the very definition of quid pro quo. It’s also, obviously, institutionalized. There are only 435 Members of the House of Representatives. Nearly a quarter of them, including some senior leaders from both parties, are involved.
Here’s the numbers breakdown as to who got what:
Apparently 104 members of Congress of both parties — 42 Republicans and 62 Democrats — secured earmarks for a lobbying firm linked to Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) in a single bill. The earmarks were inserted in a bill Murtha controlled as the defense appropriations subcommittee chairman.
The firm’s executives and clients are among Murtha’s biggest sources of campaign contributions.
Are the chickens finally coming home to roost for John Murtha – and other members of the House? Stay tuned …