December 26, 2006

ONE MIGHT ALMOST SUSPECT THAT THIS STORY WAS TIMED for when it would get the least possible attention: Nonprofit Connects Murtha, Lobbyists. Excerpt:

But the group serves another function as well. 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.

Lobbyists and corporate officials serve as directors on the nonprofit group’s board, where they help raise money and find jobs for Johnstown’s disabled workers. Some of those lobbyists have served as intermediaries between the defense contractors and businessmen on the board, and Murtha and his aides.

That arrangement over the years has yielded millions of dollars in federal support for the contractors, businesses and universities, and hundreds of thousands in consulting and lobbying fees to Murtha’s favored lobbying shops, according to Federal Election Commission records and lobbying disclosure forms. In turn, many of PAID’s directors have kept Murtha’s campaigns flush with cash.

When the Democrats take control of Congress on Jan. 4, ethics and budget restructuring will be the first orders of business. Among the provisions in the Democrats’ ethics package are demands for more transparency in the doling out of federal funds to home-district projects and a required pledge that no earmarks benefit a member of Congress personally. That could put an uncomfortable spotlight on lawmakers such as Murtha.

Sounds like he needs to be spotlighted. And not just on Christmas Day.