In the wake of the indictment of Richard Ianieri of Coherent Systems International, for whom Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) secured earmarks, NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm has offered some thoughts. From OneNewsNow yesterday:
“These are crummy little firms. Many of them are located in Murtha’s district. That’s part of the game,” he explains. “But if they have anything substantial to do, they sub it out to some real company and keep a big chunk for themselves. And out of that chunk they pay the political contributions that go hand-in-hand with this kind of operation.”
Murtha, Boehm contends, is like the center of a target that prosecutors will not reach until they penetrate the outer layers of corruption.
“I think what’s going to happen is we’re seeing the outer ring of the target fall first. That’s the corrupt little defense contractors who couldn’t survive but for this sort of political connection,” he says. “The next ring is going to be the lobbyists who act as the brokers between the contractors and the congressman.”
Boehm believes the lobbyists should be in position to help prosecutors eventually get to Murtha.
Boehm did not point out that one of the lobbyists is Murtha’s own brother. From an article in the July 15 Washington Post by Carol D. Leonnig:
When an Air Force command in north Florida sought new battlefield technologies, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) steered millions in federal dollars its way to hire defense contractors.
The research effort at the Pensacola Air Force base fell apart, however, when investigators found evidence that it was used to improperly pay a series of companies linked to Murtha. A handful of defense firms were paid for work that was never done or not called for in the contracts. Some of the companies involved, based in Wyoming, Florida and Murtha’s district in Pennsylvania, had hidden owners, prosecutors allege; one was secretly owned by the Air Force official who helped approve the payments.
As prosecutors reveal new details of their criminal probe into the $8 million earmark that Murtha arranged for the Air Force project, one familiar player is never mentioned by authorities. Several of the companies had hired the lobbying firm of the lawmaker’s brother, Robert C. “Kit” Murtha.
Meanwhile, Matthew Mazonkey, Murtha’s ever-loyal communications director, just can’t believe all this shocking behavior by these corrupt contractors. From the Associated Press:
Last week, Murtha’s spokesman, Matthew Mazonkey, called the allegations in Ianieri’s case “disturbing, and if true, then the individuals and companies in question should be held accountable under the law.”
Of course, it is always possible that Attorney General Eric Holder will put the kibosh on a criminal prosecution of Murtha himself (and of Alan Mollohan). In his short tenure, he’s been pretty shameless in his politicization of the Justice Department. We believe his failure to prosecute former Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) had less to do with “prosecutorial misconduct” than it did with Holder’s reluctance to attach criminality to the earmark bonanza on Capitol Hill.
photo: AP/Wide World