Earmarks Forever

The House ignores Nancy Pelosi’s board of outside ethics watchdogs.

The Wall Street Journal

…Last spring the House agreed to investigate seven members of the House subcommittee on defense spending, including its chairman the late John Murtha. The matter went over to the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), an independent body of ethics scrubbers—including former Members Abner Mikva, Bill Frenzel and Porter Goss—that Speaker Nancy Pelosi very publicly created two years ago.

At issue was the charge that defense-industry clients of the lobbying shop of Paul Magliocchetti and Associates (PMA) were funneling campaign contributions to Congressmen in exchange for government contracts. PMA’s business collapsed in November 2008 after the FBI raided its Virginia offices under suspicion of illegal campaign contributions. Its founder was a former aide for the defense subcommittee and his mentor was John Murtha. According to the Seattle Times, in “the 2008 defense bill alone, lawmakers gave PMA clients 172 earmarks.”…

…the decision by the real Ethics Committee—the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct…said late last week it could find no evidence “that members or their official staff considered campaign contributions as a factor when requesting earmarks.”

Not even a “factor”? Instead the villains are the lobbyists, who, the report says “employed ‘strong-armed’ tactics” to try to link contributions to earmarks. The report also said there was a “wide-spread perception among corporations and lobbyists” that contributions were linked to access and earmarks. Imagine that.

What this judgment means is that the earmark favor factory has now been given an ethics green light. The culture of earmarks, of which there were nearly 10,000 in the FY2010 spending bills, will not be uprooted by this Congress. Unlike the cherry blossoms, this doesn’t make a pretty picture.

Read the entire article at WSJ.

Comments are closed.