The Justice Department has confirmed that it has ended its investigation of Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV). The probe began after NLPC filed a Complaint with the U.S. Attorney for D.C. in February of 2006 alleging that Mollohan failed to report millions in assets on his Financial Disclosure Form (FDR) in order to conceal cozy financial relationships with recipients of earmarks he had arranged.
The closing of the four-year probe by the Justice Department comes after Mollohan voted for Barack Obama’s unpopular health care plan. Has Attorney General Eric Holder now made it legal for members of Congress to earmark money to their business partners? This is a horrible precedent.
In the uproar that followed our original allegations, Mollohan “temporarily” resigned as ranking Democrat on the Ethics Committee. I doubt that Nancy Pelosi will now try to put him back. Even she realizes that Mollohan represents everything the public loathes about Congress. Holder’s letting him off the hook is sure to further inflame anti-incumbent resentment.
Mollohan’s office put out a statement today claiming that he had been “exonerated” by the Justice Department. Choosing not to indict is a lot different than exoneration. The Justice Department said nothing about the specific allegations. Mollohan also repeated his attacks on NLPC as being “right wing.” Click here for a good analysis of Mollohan’s problems prepared by the liberal-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
Mollohan himself confirmed many elements of NLPC’s Complaint on June 13, 2006 when he amended six year’s worth of FDRs (1999-2004), after denying for two months that his FDRs contained errors. He omitted more assets than he reported on his original filings, including his largest single asset, a note worth over $4 million.
As pointed out in the instruction manual published by the House Ethics Committee on filling out FDRs:
The Ethics in Government Act of 1978, as amended, provides that the Attorney General may seek civil penalty of up to $11,000 against an individual who knowingly and willfully falsifies or fails to file or report any information required by the Act. (5 U.S.C. app. § 104).
In addition, 18 U.S.C. § 1001, as amended by the False Statements Accountability Act of 1996, is applicable here, That criminal statute, as here relevant, provides for a fine and/or imprisonment for up to five years for knowingly and willfully making any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation, or falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact, in a filing under the Ethics in Government Act. (emphasis ours)
Of course, even though Mollohan’s reporting violations were potentially criminal, especially given their scale, we were more concerned with the actions that they were intended to keep hidden, specifically Mollohan’s personal financial relationships with persons who were also getting taxpayer money through Mollohan earmarks. The appearance was (and still is) that Mollohan was recycling taxpayer money into his own pocket.
One such appearance was Mollohan’s relationship with Don and Laura Kuhns. Laura Kuhns is a former Mollohan staff member who heads Vandalia Heritage Foundation, a non-profit which received more than $28 million in federal earmarks with Mollohan’s help. Mr. and Mrs. Kuhns jointly invested with Rep. Mollohan and his wife in more than two million dollars worth of property on North Carolina’s Bald Head Island where the two couples had adjoining ocean front beach houses.
Mollohan filed an amendment (actually a letter) to his 2005 FDR with the House Clerk on December 23, 2005. In the letter, Mollohan claimed that he had “inadvertently” failed led to report a $35,000 loan from the Kuhnses. Mollohan stated:
The loan was used principally to make payments on the partnership borrowings, and related expenses.
In other words, the joint expenses of the partnership were being paid by the Kuhnses.
Another such appearance was the joint purchase of a West Virginia farm on the aptly-named Cheat River by Mollohan and Dale R. McBride, the CEO of FMW Composite Systems, for which Mollohan had secured a NASA contract.