John Murtha

Is Murtha Trying to Distance Himself From Magliocchetti?

Murtha photoLast night, we received this email under the subject line “Innaccurate (sic) Statement in Story Post” from Matt Mazonkey, Communications Director for Rep. John Murtha:

In a 06/29/09 post (PMA Client Sues Because it Didn’t Get Earmark; More Evidence of Pay-to-Play?), John Carlisle inaccurately stated that "Magliochetti (sic) served as an aide to Murtha."

Magliochetti (sic) served as a staff analyst for the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Murtha was never Chairman or Ranking Member while Magliochetti (sic) worked for the subcommittee. In fact, Magliochetti (sic) worked for Chairman Bill Chappel and full committee chairman Jamie Whitten.

Please correct this mistake.

Since Murtha’s office seized on such a tiny and debatable “mistake,” I thought it would be fun to call Mazonkey to see how far he would go in trying to distance his boss from Paul Magliocchetti, the former principal of the PMA Group lobbying firm that collapsed shortly after being raided by the FBI.

PMA Client Sues Because it Didn’t Get Earmark; More Evidence of Pay-to-Play?

Pelosi/Murtha photoAlexander Comisar reported in Roll Call on June 23:

The PMA Group, the lobbying titan that closed its doors in March after an FBI raid, has filed more than a dozen lawsuits against former clients for failure to pay outstanding debts. Now, one company has responded with a $3 million countersuit that alleges PMA cheated it out of an earmark it was expecting to receive. PMA’s lawyer called the complaint absurd and said the firm has filed a formal response with the court.

Congressional Black Caucus Upset About NLPC-Triggered Probe of Caribbean Junket

St. Maarten photoMike Soraghan reports in today’s edition of The Hill:

An investigation into a trip taken by members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is triggering a backlash against the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s signature ethics proposal.

CBC members, frustrated at what they perceive as an accusation by a conservative group that’s been blown out of proportion, last week formed a working group to look at taking on the 2006 resolution that created the OCE.

The junket to sunny St. Maarten took place the weekend after the election in 2008. I attended in order to document violations of House Rules that prohibit corporate sponsorship of travel and hospitality.

Flaherty Rips Barney Frank & 'Government Gone Wild'

NLPC President Peter Flaherty debates Julie Roginsky of Comprehensive Communications Group on June 5, 2009. CNBC's host is Dennis Kneale. Click here to download a 4-page pdf transcript.

Ethics Get Waterboarded in Pelosi’s Swamp

Pelosi photoAt her press conference last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated that she had learned of waterboarding in 2003, contradicting her earlier claims. Pelosi’s lie is getting the attention it deserves, but getting less attention is her remarkable explanations for her actions. At several points, she stated that her goal was to elect a Democratic Congress and a new president. She seemed to plead with the reporters to understand that torture was most important as an issue with which to defeat Republicans.

Well then, if the torture issue is a political weapon, and its actual practice is of secondary concern, we must ask the question about Pelosi’s sincerity when it comes to Congressional ethics. After all, she promised to “drain the swamp.” Democrats have a majority in large part because of the ethics issue.

John Wilke (1954-2009) Helped Expose Murtha, Mollohan

Wilke photoWall Street Journal reporter John Wilke passed away last week at the age of 54.

NLPC served as a source for Wilke on a number of articles including an October 30, 2007 front-page story titled “How Lawmaker Rebuilt Hometown on Earmarks; Johnstown Gets Billions With Power Broker's Aid; FBI Questions a Contract.” It detailed how Murtha has steered as much as $2 billion to his district.

Murtha’s Nephew Gets No-Bid Defense Contracts

Murtech logoEarlier in the week, we noted that Rep. John Murtha’s taxpayer-funded empire was becoming a family affair with the hiring of his nephew, Col. Brian Murtha, as a lobbyist for the Marines on Capitol Hill.

Now the Washington Post has put the spotlight on another nephew, Brian’s brother Robert, who owns a company called Murtech. Carol D. Leonnig and Alice Crites reported on May 5:

…last year, Murtech received $4 million in Pentagon work, all of it without competition, for a variety of warehousing and engineering services. With its long corridor of sparsely occupied offices and an unmanned reception area, Murtech's most striking feature is its owner -- Robert C. Murtha Jr., 49. He is the nephew of Rep. John P. Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who has significant sway over the Defense Department's spending as chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.

New House Ethics Committee Director Has Own Problems

Chisam photoDespite promises by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) of rigorous enforcement of House ethics rules, the top staff position on the Ethics Committee stayed vacant for eight months. Now the Committee has hired Blake Chisam (photo at right), who was already a staffer for Ethics Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and a member of the search committee that selected him.

Isabel Vincent of the New York Post reported yesterday:

According to his latest disclosure statements, Chisam owes up to $300,000 in student loans and filed for bankruptcy in 2000 in Pennsylvania and 2001 in Georgia.

The Post continued:

Ken Boehm, of the watchdog National Legal and Policy Center was quick to rip the eyebrow-raising pick.

“No wonder the House Ethics Committee is considered something of a joke," Boehm said. “Despite having to investigate…a powerful congressman like Charlie Rangel, [it] goes many months without a staff director and then picks a partisan staffer of its chairwoman.”

More Scrutiny for Murtha as Investigative Noose Tightens

Politico reported on March 11:

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.Murtha Pelosi photo

PMA may soon be Murtha’s undoing. The firm was founded by his top operative Paul Magliocchetti, who is now reportedly under investigation for making campaign donations in the names of other people. Campaign finance violations are not treated seriously by prosecutors, except for this one. The result can be prison time and big fines. If faced with the prospect of jail, would Magliocchetti turn on Murtha?

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