April 27, 2009

CQ POLITICS: Will Murtha Scrutiny Lead Anywhere?

The watchdog groups are following up on the investigation surrounding the PMA Group and, reportedly, three key lawmakers closely tied to it — Reps. John P. Murtha, D-Pa., Peter J. Visclosky, D-Ind., and James P. Moran, D-Va.. . . . Interestingly, under House rules that were in existence until 1997, the outside groups could have filed an actual complaint with the ethics panel itself.

That complaint would have required action of some form — even a cursory investigation before dismissal. But the rules changed in 1997.

Under a change that was adopted that year, outside groups and private citizens were barred from actually filing complaints with the ethics committee. Now, only individual members of the House of Representatives can file a complaint with the Ethics Committee against a fellow member.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the result: The number of complaints (and, therefore, the number of investigations) dropped substantially.

And who was the mastermind who pushed through the change, so that outside groups and private citizens could no longer file complaints with the House Ethics Committee?

Why, none other than Murtha himself.

It’s like he knew what was coming . . . .

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