Murtha Ally Indicted in Kickback Scheme

Murtha photoPaula Reed Ward and Dennis B. Roddy reported today in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Federal prosecutors filed corruption charges yesterday against a onetime defense contractor who has ties to both John Murtha and a suburban Johnstown defense contractor currently under criminal investigation.

Richard S. Ianieri, former president and CEO of Coherent Systems International Corp., was accused of accepting $200,000 in kickbacks. He is charged through a criminal information and is expected to plead guilty.

The indictment of Ianieri represents the first charges leveled as a result of investigations into firms receiving defense earmarks – many of which benefited former aides and associates of Rep. John Murtha (D-PA).

Ianieri’s ties to Murtha go back to his role as the former president and CEO of Coherent Systems International Corporation. When Coherent decided to get involved in defense contracts in 2006, it hired KSA Consulting, a Washington, D.C.-based firm that once employed Murtha’s … Read More ➡

Caribbean Junket Probe Headed by Black Caucus Member Shows Pelosi’s ‘Mockery’ of Ethics Process

Pelosi and Black CaucusSusan Crabtree reports in The Hill today:

The chairman of a House ethics probe into a Caribbean conference attended by members of the Congressional Black Caucus is himself a CBC member who attended the same event in 2005.

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), the former judge chosen to chair the ethics probe, has vowed to lead a fair investigation into trips taken by CBC members to St. Maarten in 2008 and Antigua and Barbuda in 2007.

NLPC exposed the 2008 junket. The Hill noted my reaction:

“The CBC really sticks together — you can see their solidarity in the face of these ethics charges,” Flaherty said. “To put one of their own members in charge of the investigation just shows that nothing has changed — the ethics process is still a complete mockery.”

The junket to sunny St. Maarten took place the weekend after the election in 2008. I attended … Read More ➡

New York Times Eyes Pelosi’s Swamp

Pelosi and Murtha photoFrom a New York Times editorial today titled “The House Eyes the Swamp:”

Self-investigation has never been a signature virtue of Congress. So taxpayers should closely monitor the House ethics committee’s inquiry into the lucrative relationships between defense appropriators and military contractors.

The committee finally confirmed the inquiry — not yet a full-blown investigation — into suspicions that members and staffers earmarked hundreds of millions in defense contracts for favored companies in return for tens of millions in political donations. In a separate matter, the ethics committee opened an inquiry into whether Caribbean trips taken by Representative Charles Rangel and four other lawmakers violated House gift rules. It is encouraging to see such curiosity from the traditionally somnolent panel.

We too are glad that the Ethics Committee is looking into these matters, especially since we are the source of the allegations about the Rangel-led Caribbean junket. But it will take … Read More ➡

Boehm Skeptical of Conyers’ Claim He Didn’t Know of Wife’s Bribe Taking

Conyers photoFrom OneNewsNow today:

The head of an ethics watchdog organization is skeptical of the claim by Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan) that he didn’t know his wife was taking political bribes.

Monica Conyers has resigned from her post on the Detroit City Council after admitting she took cash bribes in exchange for her vote on a lucrative city contract. Conyers is the wife of powerful Democratic Congressman John Conyers, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee.

While prosecutors say Congressman Conyers knew nothing of what his wife was doing, Ken Boehm of the National Legal and Policy Center, thinks otherwise.
 
“They’ve been married for a number of years. They’ve worked together as a political team,” he contends. “We have protections that go back centuries that a spouse can’t be made to testify against their other spouse. But I think from a common-sense standpoint, people can look at this and just wonder,

Read More ➡

NLPC Cited in New Book About Blagojevich

Pay to Play bookNLPC research is referenced in a new book titled Pay to Play: How Rod Blagojevich Turned Political Corruption Into a National Sideshow. Its by Elizabeth Brackett, a longtime correspondent for The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer and a winner of the Peabody Award for political coverage.

In February, NLPC released a study showing that interests owned or affiliated with Illinois race track owner John Johnston contributed more than $343,000 to Blagojevich’s campaign committee during 2002-2007. This total was $183,000 more than alleged in previous news accounts.  Johnson owns Balmoral Park and Maywood Park, two Chicago-area harness racing tracks.

As described on page 39 of the December 2008 FBI affidavit outlining the criminal case against Blagojevich, Johnson supported legislation directing a percentage of casino revenue to horse racing tracks. The casinos would pay out almost $90 million and file a RICO suit to recover the money.

NLPC’s analysis also revealed … Read More ➡

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 Read More ➡

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

Alexander 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.

The lawsuit filed by the Michigan-based Badenoch company provides yet further evidence of what many suspect is a pay-to-play scheme in which influential members of Congress target earmarks to companies in their districts and, in turn, receive cash donations for their re-election campaigns.

PMA Group founder Paul Magliocchetti is reportedly under investigation for possibly funneling donations to congressional campaigns using straw donors. Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) in … Read More ➡

Supreme Court Sides with Dissenting New Haven Firemen; Overturns Sotomayor

U.S. Supreme Court buildingThough uncomfortably close, it was a victory for liberty. By a 5-4 margin, the U.S. Supreme Court today in Ricci v. DeStefano overturned a Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that defended a local government race-based job promotion policy. The City of New Haven, Connecticut, the High Court said, erred when it scrapped the results of a written exam designed for promoting local firefighters because the highest scorers did not include any blacks. The ruling is especially noteworthy because it rebukes Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, who wrote the circuit court decision. Whether the case will be used to bar race-based quotas in the future, however, is less certain.

The case originated in 2003 when the City of New Haven administered tests for promotion to lieutenant and captain within the fire department. Fully 77 persons took the test for eight lieutenant slots. None of the 19 blacks taking the test … Read More ➡

‘More Bad News’ For Rangel as Ethics Committee Confirms Probe of Caribbean Junket

Rangel photoJohn Bresnahan reports in Politico today:

Already embroiled in an ethics probe now entering its tenth month, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, received more bad news Wednesday night as the House ethics committee announced it would look into Caribbean trips taken by the veteran lawmaker and four other Democrats.

In a statement released late Wednesday night, Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), the chairwoman and ranking member of the ethics committee, announced that the panel had voted to create a four-member investigative subcommittee to determine whether the trips violated House gift rules.

Click here to download a one-page pdf of the Commitee’s statement. NLPC exposed this Citigroup-funded junket to the sunny island of St. Maarten that took place the weekend after the election in 2008. I attended in order to document violations of House Rules that prohibit corporate sponsorship of … Read More ➡

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