Former 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 Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) and closing a four-year investigation of Alan Mollohan (D-WV). Aside from Murtha, Mollohan is said to be have been one of Maggliochetti’s closest associates in the House.
The House Ethics Committee investigated Murtha and six other members of Congress for their involvement in the PMA earmarking scheme. They six were Norman Dicks (D-WA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), James Moran D-VA), C.W. “Bill” Young, Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) and Peter Visclosky (D-IN).
In February, it issued a laughable report clearing the seven. The Committee said that it:
…found no evidence that Members or their official staff considered campaign contributions as a factor when requesting earmarks. The Standards Committee further found no evidence that Members or their official staff were directly or indirectly engaged in seeking contributions in return for earmarks.
In recent days, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) have argued that the embarrassing ethics cases of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) are actually evidence of an increased commitment to ethical standards in the House. They have not, however, said anything about PMA.
The central figure in the PMA scandal was Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), who passed away on February 8. He was one of Pelosi’s most important and powerful allies in the House. Pelosi may proclaim a desire to “draining the swamp,” but it only goes so far. Republicans on the Ethics Committee might be expected to check the Democrats except for the fact that PMA also engulfed senior Republican Bill Young (R-FL). The House Ethics Committee produced a bipartisan PMA cover-up.
We do not subscribe to the view advanced by members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Al Sharpton that the investigations of Rangel and Waters are racially motivated. But I’m surprised that they haven’t cited the exoneration of the seven white PMA-linked members of Congress, who are potentially guilty of offenses as bad or worse.