"By voting to sweep the Murtha scandal under the rug,
the House has committed a grave disservice to
constituents and taxpayers. Congress needs to decide which
comes first: party politics or personal integrity."—ALG President Bill Wilson.
May 18th, 2009, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson today strongly condemned the House of Representatives for voting to kill a resolution that would have launched an ethics investigation into Congressman John Murtha and several of his fellow Congressmen for their role in earmarking billions of dollars for the clients of a lobbying group that is now under an FBI investigation.
"The House under Nancy Pelosi's leadership clearly believes that it will suffer politically not if it fails to root out corruption, but if it fails to adequately cover it up," said Wilson. "Congress has brought disgrace upon itself and shame upon the people it is supposed to represent."
According to the Representative Jeff Flake's resolution, the PMA Group, headed by Paul Magliocchetti, "has given $3.4 million in political donations to no less than 284 Members of Congress." Additionally, defense appropriations committee lawmakers and staff were routinely showered with food, drink, and gifts. Lawmakers and staff were annually invited to a posh Alpine Christmas affair. They were often treated to expensive restaurant outings.
According to the New York times, PMA Group clients gathered billions in earmarks over the years. Wilson believes that each and every earmark ever lobbied for by the PMA Groups must now be scrutinized. "No stone should be left unturned," Wilson said.
In an email preceding the vote, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn warned House Democrats in an email that "If the Flake resolution is referred to the Ethics Committee, members can expect attack ads to be run against them alleging members to be 'under investigation by the House Ethics Committee.'"
Wilson promised to remind the American people often of its "outright betrayal of ethical and representative government in favor politics as usual in Washington."
The Flake Resolution failed when it was tabled by a 215-182 vote in Roll Call 243.
"The House needs to drop the pretense. If Murtha is innocent, then the committee will show it. But, if the mountain of evidence—that which is already on the public record—proves otherwise, then action needs to be taken," Wilson declared.
"Anyone who voted to table this resolution voted to conceal a strong appearance of corruption, and one has to wonder: do 215 members who voted to kill the investigation have something herself to hide? Would an investigation into this pay to play morass, earmarks and sole source contracts reveal their names?" Wilson added.
In a recent editorial, the New York Times calls for a full-blown investigation. "Mr. Murtha and two subcommittee colleagues, Peter Visclosky of Indiana and James Moran of Virginia, received more than $4 million in campaign contributions from contract hungry PMA Group clients, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In two recent budgets alone, the three earmarked $137 million for PMA Group clients. It is time to follow the money — all of it."