Now, Murtha's Lobbyist Connections Come Into Question
The Washington Post finally got around to reporting on John Murtha’s shady dealings with the Pennsylvania Association for Individuals With Disabilities (PAID), on Christmas Day.
Here’s a bit on his questionable dealings in case you missed it:
PAID has become a gathering point for defense contractors and lobbyists with business before Murtha’s defense appropriations subcommittee, and for Pennsylvania businesses and universities that have thrived on federal money obtained by Murtha.
The lobbyists and businesses associated with PAID have become supporters of Murtha’s campaigns, contributing a total of nearly $125,000 in the past three election cycles, when Murtha raised a total of $7.2 million, according to campaign records. And those same players have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at three lobbying shops with close Murtha ties: the PMA Group, Scialabba’s KSA Consulting and Ervin Technical Associates.
…The main source of his (Murtha’s) power is his perch as the top Democrat on the defense appropriations subcommittee, which controls nearly a half-trillion federal dollars a year. His largess to his friends and hardscrabble district is legendary. But now that he is assuming the chairmanship of the defense subcommittee, his actions are coming under new scrutiny.
Under Murtha’s watch, for instance, Windber Medical Center has been transformed from a struggling hospital outside of Johnstown into a burgeoning cancer research center, thriving on Defense Department funding. Hospital officials have paid the PMA Group some $380,000 in lobbying fees since signing on in 2001. And hospital employees have financed Murtha’s political campaigns to the tune of nearly $25,000.
Another PAID director, Jim Estep, is a central figure in an investigation of Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-W.Va.), a Murtha ally and fellow member of the Appropriations Committee. Estep heads the West Virginia High-Technology Consortium Foundation and the Institute for Scientific Research, two nonprofit organizations that Mollohan helped set up and has plied with federal funds.
It was nice of this news to come out finally after the elections. Merry Christmas.