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GBMelBlount
05-30-2009, 08:06 AM
Corruption probe heats up on Capitol Hill

By PETE YOST and HENRY C. JACKSON – 14 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal grand jury has subpoenaed a Democratic congressman in a corruption probe, the first concrete indication that a long-simmering Justice Department investigation of a top lobbying firm also has the potential to seriously damage congressional careers.

On Friday, Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., acknowledged the grand jury has demanded documents from his office, some employees and his campaign committees.

The probe focuses on the PMA Group, a now-defunct lobbying firm that specialized in securing federal contracts for defense firms from Visclosky, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., and others on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee that Murtha chairs.

In his hometown of Johnstown, Pa., Murtha brushed aside questions Friday about one Pennsylvania defense contractor for whom he obtained $14.7 million in the last two years in congressionally directed funds called "earmarks." The Navy suspended the contractor a month ago for alleged fraud.

Murtha grew defensive when asked about the suspension at a news conference he held at a defense trade show.

"What's that got to do with me?" he asked. "What do you think, I'm supposed to oversee these companies? That's not my job. That's the Defense Department's job."

Asked whether he had a lawyer, Murtha responded, "What kind of question is that?" and then ended the brief news conference by turning around and walking out of the room, accompanied by aides.

Murtha has collected more than $2 million in campaign contributions from PMA's lobbyists and the companies the firm has represented since 1989, while Visclosky has collected more than $1 million, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Murtha's earmarks for Kuchera, which was not a PMA client, were only a tiny slice of Murtha's earmarks for defense contractors.

For PMA and its defense clients, Murtha had $78 million in earmarks for fiscal years 2008 and 2009, while Visclosky had $36 million.

The latest inquiry represents only the latest round of legal troubles for Congress involving earmarks, federal money lawmakers direct to their home states. In recent years, two former Republican congressmen have gone to prison over influence-peddling charges connected with the practice. Once-prominent Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, also in prison, once dubbed the earmarking committees "the favor factory."

PMA was founded by Paul Magliocchetti, who became a lobbyist in 1989 after leaving his Capitol Hill job as a staffer on Murtha's subcommittee. A former Visclosky chief of staff also joined PMA.

Though Murtha has long been a target of critics of so-called pay-to-play politics, Visclosky has studiously maintained a low profile. Though he hails from northwestern Indiana, an area notorious for local corruption, Visclosky has cultivated an image of being above the fray.

Even as the fallout from PMA Group has threatened to taint him, Visclosky has tried to set himself apart from other recipients of PMA's largesse, notably Murtha and Rep. Jim Moran, a Virginia Democrat, who has received nearly a million dollars in campaign donations from employees of PMA and their clients.

Earlier this year, Visclosky joined a Republican-led effort to have the House ethics committee investigate PMA Group, a move that was destined to fail because of overwhelming Democratic opposition. Visclosky also agreed to return at least $18,000 in campaign cash from donors who were listed as having ties to PMA Group, a step Murtha and Moran have not taken.

Earlier this year, Visclosky disclosed that he had hired an attorney to represent him in the ongoing investigation.

Visclosky has deep ties to PMA. In addition to the firm employing his former congressional chief of staff, one out of every five dollars in political donations to Visclosky over the past seven years has come from PMA and its clients. He is also the leading recipient in Congress of donations from PMA employees.

Federal investigators have been looking into allegations that PMA helped funnel money to lawmakers through so-called straw donors.

The grand jury's document subpoena to Visclosky's congressional office could become a legal issue, as it is in the scheduled trial of former Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson, D-La. A federal appeals court in Washington ruled that the way in which a raid of Jefferson's congressional office was conducted did not fully protect Jefferson's privileges as a congressman. Jefferson's lawyer says all the documents obtained in the raid should therefore be barred at his trial in June.

Associated Press writer Dan Nephin contributed to this report from Johnstown, Pa.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hIHPW7i1H4ddNIRpABkORWz_bbHwD98G5LEO0

Dino 6 Rings
05-30-2009, 11:55 AM
most ethical congress every....

Term Limits Please

fansince'76
05-30-2009, 12:05 PM
Term Limits Please

Exactly.

A federal grand jury has subpoenaed a Democratic congressman in a corruption probe, the first concrete indication that a long-simmering Justice Department investigation of a top lobbying firm also has the potential to seriously damage congressional careers.

This is a big part of the problem. A seat in Congress wasn't originally intended to be a "career," IMO. Three terms for Representatives and two terms for Senators, maximum.

AllD
05-30-2009, 12:07 PM
The Democrats posess a majority of government power, but cannot get anything done because they fight each other and seem to be bigger crooks than the Republicans.

GBMelBlount
05-30-2009, 12:36 PM
Pelosi ran her campaign on "ending the (republican) culture of corruption in Washington".....as though democrats were somehow more ethical......

There are countless sleazy, greedy, unethical and self-serving politicians (on both sides) who parade themselves as public servants that are more corrupt than 99% of those that make an honest living in the private sector.

That is why I laugh when people act like the government needs to come in and protect us from the "evil, corrupt & greedy" freedom and liberty that our country was founded on....as though the government is somehow more ethical and caring...as they make laws to legalize taking the property that belongs to one group and give it to others to whom it does not belong.....in the name of "fairness", in order to get their votes...all the while lining their own pockets along the way.

Preacher
05-30-2009, 04:10 PM
Actually I don't believe in term limits. If people want them out, they WILL get voted out, regardless of how much money they raise. As Tom Foley and Tom Daschle found out.

SteelCityMan786
05-30-2009, 05:33 PM
The Democrats posess a majority of government power, but cannot get anything done because they fight each other and seem to be bigger crooks than the Republicans.

That's what happens whenever one party has that much power.

fansince'76
05-30-2009, 05:52 PM
Actually I don't believe in term limits. If people want them out, they WILL get voted out, regardless of how much money they raise. As Tom Foley and Tom Daschle found out.

Robert Byrd, despite being an ex-card-carrying member of the frigging KKK has a Senate tenure of 50 years and he's still going strong. Ted Kennedy has been in there for almost 47 years despite Chappaquiddick and being a long time boozer and a general lowlife. Ted Stevens was FINALLY voted out after 40+ years this past fall, and it took a corruption conviction by a federal grand jury a week before the election to do it.

Sorry, but in too many cases, the garbage ISN'T voted out. Ever.

xfl2001fan
05-30-2009, 05:55 PM
Actually I don't believe in term limits. If people want them out, they WILL get voted out, regardless of how much money they raise. As Tom Foley and Tom Daschle found out.

I think we'll have to agree to disagree here Preach.

Let a guy stay in Congress long enough...and he'll have time to build the "web" he needs to keep his political opponents at bay in his home state. Look how long guys like Byrd (WV) have been in power. It's ridiculous. Unfortunately, no one has really been able to run against him. He has too much clout. Congress is a freaking mob. Let them have term limits...and it will open up the doors to many more candidates...which may force a few more people to pay more attention to the race (and the platform of the respective candidates) as opposed to just voting in a familiar name.

HAHAHAHA...was typing this up when Fansince was posting his.

Preacher
05-30-2009, 07:57 PM
Robert Byrd, despite being an ex-card-carrying member of the frigging KKK has a Senate tenure of 50 years and he's still going strong. Ted Kennedy has been in there for almost 47 years despite Chappaquiddick and being a long time boozer and a general lowlife. Ted Stevens was FINALLY voted out after 40+ years this past fall, and it took a corruption conviction by a federal grand jury a week before the election to do it.

Sorry, but in too many cases, the garbage ISN'T voted out. Ever.

Yep, but Robert Byrd, Ted Kennedy, and Ted Stevens were ALL WANTED by their constituents back home. That's my point. If I don't want my senator or congressman in office, than I can vote them out. If enough people agree with me, then they are gone.

To me, term limits hinder the right of representation because it begins to delimit who can and can not represent me. I don't like that idea.

xfl2001fan
05-30-2009, 09:10 PM
Yep, but Robert Byrd, Ted Kennedy, and Ted Stevens were ALL WANTED by their constituents back home. That's my point. If I don't want my senator or congressman in office, than I can vote them out. If enough people agree with me, then they are gone.

To me, term limits hinder the right of representation because it begins to delimit who can and can not represent me. I don't like that idea.

Do you think it's OK to have term limits on the Presidency as well? Seems to me what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

fansince'76
05-30-2009, 11:12 PM
Yep, but Robert Byrd, Ted Kennedy, and Ted Stevens were ALL WANTED by their constituents back home. That's my point. If I don't want my senator or congressman in office, than I can vote them out. If enough people agree with me, then they are gone.

I see your point, but the problem with it is that by their constituents keeping guys like Byrd and Kennedy and Stevens in there for decades, they eventually wind up chairing very influential committees and occupying senior Senate positions due to their tenure, which ultimately does affect the rest of us. And like XFL pointed out, after a certain point, they keep getting reelected simply out of familiarity and due to the political capital and clout they've built up over such a long time and nobody can realistically mount a challenge against them within their home state. Take Kennedy, for instance. His family is basically frigging royalty in Massachusetts - think anybody can realistically mount a challenge against him and take his Senate seat from him? Fat chance. And personally, I am pretty much diametrically opposed to everything he stands for politically, yet he has a TON of pull in the Senate primarily because he's been there longer than I've been alive and I'm middle aged now. That is what I have a problem with.

GBMelBlount
05-31-2009, 06:03 AM
I think there are compelling arguments for both sides on this one.

Personally I think our whole system could use an overhaul to lessen the ability of politicians to lie, cheat and steal.

I doubt it will ever happen though.

Enough people are getting their pockets lined by the governments massive wealth redistribution programs and favoritism that they turn a blind eye to it.

Preacher
05-31-2009, 11:17 AM
The real way to end govt. corruption, is to de-fund the federal govt.

Budget out ONLY the cost of the military, state department, and intelligence agencies, cut the salaries of house and congress by a third, and return everything else to the states.

Take THAT budget, and make each STATE write ONE check to the federal govt. each year for the money, according to population and average wealth. Then, let the STATES raise the money anyway the STATE deems fit.

Once again, it is a LOT easier to deal with state corruption than national corruption in our government.

Sure, there are a LOT of holes in a system like that. But I bet it wouldn't be any worse than what we have now.

revefsreleets
06-01-2009, 09:30 AM
Byrd (for example) gets re-elected because he's VERY good to the people of WV. He channels SO much money into that state through earmarks and pet projects, it's ridiculous. The people of WV understand that and love him for it...unfortunately, it's pretty much awful for the rest of us, though.

But that's what happens when you concentrate power into the hands of a very few with no real way to check that power. Look at Pelosi. She's as corrupt as it gets, a liar and cheater, and yet she's so powerful now she's basically untouchable even when she's caught with her hand in the proverbial cookie jar. The corruption is only heightened when you figure in the blatant hypocrisy these people all live by...

xfl2001fan
06-01-2009, 11:49 AM
Does anyone else look at the title of this thread and do this mental equation?

More Corrupt Government = More Wet Water
More Government Corruption = More Water Wet

Seems to me that they describe each other perfectly.