Oh my: Kos turns on Murtha over lobbyist probe

I didn’t pay much attention to this WaPo mini-bombshell when it dropped this afternoon, but now that the Chairman’s ducking and covering, it’s got my attention.

House Democrats have been blocking an ethics investigation into this matter. That has to stop now. It was [stuff] like this that helped Democrats lose control of the House in 1994, and Republicans in 2006. I’ve got no interest in giving Republicans easy ammunition.

We have to show we are different than Republicans by refusing to tolerate any corruption in our ranks.

Ed’s been blogging this story for weeks. In a nutshell, the feds are investigating a lobbyist group called PMA for possibly funneling campaign contributions to Murtha through third parties in return for Abscam Jack directing millions of dollars in earmarked projects to its clients — a kickback scheme, in other words. Oddly enough, the Democratic-controlled House has no interest in investigating PMA, which comes as no surprise: The last time a Republican challenged Murtha on ethics in the chamber, Grandpa Earmark laughed his way through the floor vote. Will he laugh off WaPo too?

A Pennsylvania defense research center regularly consulted with two “handlers” close to Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) as it collected nearly $250 million in federal funding through the lawmaker, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post and sources familiar with the funding requests. The center then channeled a significant portion of the funding to companies that were among Murtha’s campaign supporters.

The two advisers included a lobbyist for PMA, a firm with close ties to Murtha that is the subject of a federal probe into whether it made illegal contributions by reimbursing donors to the Pennsylvania lawmaker and other members of Congress…

Unlike traditional earmarks — funding for specific projects publicly requested by members of Congress — much of the money for the center came through a budget maneuver known as a “plus-up.” The process for this kind of earmark allows lawmakers to add money to an existing program in the budget without public disclosure. The center sought $120 million in this type of money for itself and other companies in 2006 alone, according to the records.

Several of the center’s partners hired PMA for lobbying. In the 2008 budget, PMA clients received $299 million in defense earmarks through Murtha and other lawmakers. PMA and its clients gave $775,000 in contributions to Murtha in the last election cycle.

A PMA lobbyist and a close associate of Murtha’s helped make many key decisions about which research and contractors would get the federal money flowing to the center, according to the documents.

The PMA “advisor” also occasionally chauffeured him back to Pennsylvania. I have nothing to add, really, except that if you know anything about Murtha’s history, this is the least surprising scandal to come down the pike since, well, Ted Stevens’. Give Kos credit, I guess, for supporting the GOP probe, although now that the story’s reached this level of rancidity, throwing him under the bus is less a matter of conscience than of simple prudence. Here’s a short CBS report from last year on how Murtha operates; note the mention of PMA even then. Long before he was the conscience of the anti-war left, he was the master of the shady earmark deal.