We Don't See This In The MSM Or Locally??

Discuss all political matters here!
Official BleacherCoach
Official BleacherCoach
Posts: 2782
Joined: February 20th, 2006, 11:40 am
Reputation: 0

We Don't See This In The MSM Or Locally??

Postby vman » July 6th, 2009, 2:31 pm

Picture a freight train roaring down the tracks. Picture House Speaker Nancy Pelosi positioning her party on the rails. Picture a growing stream of nervous souls diving for the weeds. Picture all this, and you've got a sense of the Democrats' earmark-corruption problem.

This particular choo-choo has the name John Murtha emblazoned on the side, and with each chug is proving that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Republicans got tossed in 2006 in part for failing to police the earmarks at the center of the Jack Abramoff and other corruption scandals. Mrs. Pelosi is today leaving her members exposed to an earmark mess that might make Abramoff look junior varsity.

Federal investigators are deep into a criminal investigation of PMA Group, a now-defunct lobby shop founded by a former aide to Mr. Murtha, Pennsylvania's 18-term star appropriator. The suspicion is that some members of Congress may have peddled lucrative earmarks to PMA clients in exchange for campaign contributions. To get a sense of this probe's scope, consider that last year alone more than 100 members secured earmarks for PMA clients.


Mr. Murtha, who in the past two years alone directed $78 million to PMA companies, has so far not been accused of wrongdoing and has proclaimed his innocence. The feds, for their part, are picking up speed. Federal agents have raided PMA, as well as a defense contractor to which Mr. Murtha had directed earmarks, Kuchera Defense Systems. Recently, Mr. Murtha's fellow defense appropriator and PMA-earmarker, Indiana Rep. Peter Visclosky, had disclosed he'd received subpoenas in connection with PMA, while the Navy said it had suspended Kuchera from doing business with it because of "alleged fraud."

The result is growing dissent among Democrats, on full display recently. On one side is Mrs. Pelosi, who has demanded her party protect Mr. Murtha, a man hugely responsible for her ascent. On the other side are younger, first- and second-term Democrats who won their seats off GOP scandals and who have no interest in sacrificing them at the back-scratching altar.

Republican Rep. Jeff Flake gave notice he was introducing his ninth resolution calling for an ethics committee investigation into PMA. This scourge of earmarks worries that, since the 1990s, some lawmakers have been "refining" earmarking, moving beyond "bring home the bacon" pork for districts and instead viewing earmarks as "fund-raising tools" -- a way to deliver money to companies that produce campaign cash. "We've crossed a line," he tells me. "And we in Congress need to understand that this is why Justice is interested."

His resolutions are forcing members to take sides, and with each vote he's peeled off a few more of Mrs. Pelosi's caucus. His first resolution, in February, got support from 17 Democrats. These were folks like California's Jerry McNerney, who spent his 2006 campaign lashing his GOP rival to Abramoff. And New Hampshire's Paul Hodes, who in the same year criticized his opponent for failing to return campaign donations from former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

By last month's Flake resolution, 29 Democrats had jumped on board. Welcome Mike Quigley, newly elected in Illinois after a campaign focused on Rod Blagojevich. Welcome, too, New York's Scott Murphy, who in March squeaked out a special-election victory after attacking his opponent on ethics. Some Democrats have fretted that even lining up with Mr. Flake won't provide adequate cover from a possible Murtha train wreck. In April, Mr. Hodes and Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords debuted a bill to ban lawmakers from taking contributions from companies on whose behalf they've requested earmarks.

Mrs. Pelosi has relentlessly fought to tamp down this uprising. In April, she recruited the former top Democrat on the ethics committee, Howard Berman, to lecture members in a closed-door meeting as to why they should continue to oppose Mr. Flake. In May, as the House prepared for another vote, Mrs. Pelosi's assistant, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, sent an email to staffers warning "Don't Be a Flake" and making clear defections would not be viewed charitably.

But the news of the Visclosky subpoena, and the possibility of another Flake vote, recently threatened a mass revolt. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer pre-empted Mr. Flake with his own resolution calling on the ethics committee merely to disclose whether it is already looking at PMA. Democrats then watered this down further by referring the resolution to committee, where it can be buried. Many of the GOP's biggest earmarkers, in particular Alaska's Don Young and Florida's Bill Young, went along with this charade, proving Republicans have yet to exorcise their own earmark demons.

As political cover goes this is pretty scant, and Democrats are in control. If and when this train derails, the exposure could be huge. For Mr. Flake, it's all a bit mind boggling. "This is a well-trodden path of denial that we Republicans already walked down. Democrats are now walking down that path. Philosophically, it's nuts."

I have to say thank you to me ..." for not being stupid enough to go to Penn State."

  • Advertisement

Return to “Politics”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests