April 25, 2006

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: USA Today reports:

Sen. Arlen Specter obtained a $200,000 grant last year for a Philadelphia foundation represented by the son of one of Specter’s top aides,the latest example of how the Pennsylvania Republican has helped clients of lobbyists related to members of his staff.

Bill Reynolds, Specter’s chief of staff, said an investigation found two lobbyists who sought financial favors and who were related to staff members. Specter has changed his office rules to ban lobbying by staffers’ relatives.

“The better practice is what we have now. We’re living and learning,” Specter said in an interview.

So are the rest of us. One lesson is that when members of Congress “help” people get grants, it’s a lure for people who want them to use whatever influence they can. And no, the Reynolds here is no relation.

UPDATE: Meanwhile Ed Cone notes a report from the WSJ:

Rep. Alan B. Mollohan, the West Virginia Democrat whose real-estate holdings and financial disclosures have drawn federal scrutiny, last year bought a 300-acre farm with the head of a small defense contractor that had won a $2.1 million contract from funds that the congressman added to a 2005 spending bill.

The joint purchase of the farm, which sits on the Cheat River in West Virginia, is the most direct tie yet disclosed between Rep. Mollohan and a beneficiary of the federal spending he has steered toward his home state. It raises new questions about possible conflicts of interest by Rep. Mollohan and his use of such spending. House ethics guidelines warn lawmakers to avoid business deals with those who benefit from their official acts. . . . Over the past five years, Rep. Mollohan steered more than $200 million to a network of nonprofit groups in West Virginia, including more than $20 million in the latest fiscal year, often through narrow spending provisions known as earmarks. The Wall Street Journal reported in an April 7 story that executives of these groups and companies had contributed regularly to Rep. Mollohan’s campaigns and to his family foundation. They included at least two people who were partners with the lawmaker in various real-estate investments.

I agree with Ed that the “Cheat River” part is priceless.

UPDATE: And don’t miss this enormous pork-news roundup from the Heritage Foundation.

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