Is the Justice Department Covering Up Congressional Corruption?

Mollohan photoEthics groups are wondering whether the U.S. Department of Justice has become skittish when it comes to investigating members of Congress, after numerous congressional corruption investigations were closed without trial last year, reported the New York Times.

Since the department’s case against the late Rep. Ted Stevens (R-AK) notoriously fell apart two years ago, officials have halted at least five other corruption investigations against high-profile congressmen, including Rep. Don Young (R-AK) and Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV), in photo.

“They’re gun-shy,” J. Gerald Hebert, the executive director of the Campaign Legal Center, told the New York Times. The Rep. Stevens case, which collapsed after the Justice Department was found to be suppressing evidence that might have weakened its allegations, was a major embarrassment for department officials.

But the DOJ vigorously denied that it was avoiding prosecuting prominent lawmakers out of fear of a similar mishap.

“It’s just not …

Magliocchetti Indicted But What About Members of Congress?

PMA logoFormer Murtha crony Paul Magliocchetti was indicted yesterday on 11 counts. The indictment was not unexpected and relates primarily to Magliocchetti’s rather hamhanded manuevers to evade campaign contribution limits by having family members, employees and friends make contributions for which they were paid back.

The indictment certainly relates the PMA “pay to play” scheme, but it does not address the underlying possible crimes by members of Congress who secured earmarks for PMA clients in return for campaign contributions and other benefits. It is not known to what extent, if any, the Justice Department has sought a plea bargain with Magliocchetti in return for information about members of Congress. Maggliocchetti’s son Mark is cooperating with prosecutors but it is not known if his information goes beyond his father to members of Congress.

Attorney General Eric Holder has already shown indifference to earmark-related corruption in Congress by choosing not to retry former …

House Ethics Office Sends PMA Case to Justice Department

The Office of Congressional Ethics voted unanimously last week to ask the U.S. Justice Department to review documents in the PMA Group pay-to-play scheme.

The OCE, a bipartisan board created by congress and composed of private citizens, released a statement of May 27 saying that it would send the Justice Department “evidence [that] pertains to a factual finding by the OCE Board that certain persons and companies saw their campaign donations as affecting decisions about earmarks.”

The office has conducted seven investigations of the PMA Group, which is the lobbying firm at the center of an alleged scheme in which lawmakers may have traded earmarks for campaign cash. The OCE’s investigations cleared five of the seven lawmakers implicated, but the office recommended more in-depth examinations of Rep. Pete Vicslosky (D-IN) and Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS).

House members linked to the scheme who were cleared by the OCE include the late …

Office of Congressional Ethics Asked to Release PMA Probe Details

Flake photoTwo congressmen are calling on the Office of Congressional Ethics to release details of an investigation into lawmakers linked to the PMA Group pay-to-play scheme, after the House Ethics Committee has refused to reveal information it collected during its own probe of the case.

On Feb. 26, the House Ethics Committee issued a report which cleared seven members of congress of exchanging earmarks for campaign donations with the now-defunct PMA Group. However, the committee has declined to disclose details of the investigation.

Rep. Jeffrey Flake (R-AZ), in photo, and Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH) sent a letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent ethics review board, on Thursday, asking that the board make public the documents it compiled during its own seven PMA-related probes.

“[R]eleasing the collected documents would be a crucial step toward transparency and would provide Members with critical assistance in navigating the muddied ethical waters of …

Rep. Jeff Flake to Push Ethics Committee on PMA Probe

Jeff Flake photoRep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) will likely bring another resolution before the House of Representatives next week calling on the House Ethics Committee to release more details of the investigation into lawmakers linked to the PMA Group pay-to-play controversy, his office told the NLPC Tuesday.

Rep. Flake has been the lone member of Congress pushing for more information on the investigation since late February, when the Ethics Committee released a brief, 5-page report on its probe of the politicians who obtained earmarks for clients of the now-defunct PMA Group lobbying firm. The D.C.-based PMA shuttered its offices last year after the FBI began investigating allegations that the lobbying group exchanged campaign contributions for earmarks.

Seven members of Congress have since been “cleared” of any misconduct by the Ethics Committee, including the late Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-IN), Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Rep. Bill …