The sudden exposure and collapse of lobbying group PMA may create a huge problem for Democrats — much bigger than the Jack Abramoff scandal. PMA, most closely tied to John Murtha, has raised funds for scores of Democrats in the House, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In turn, more than 100 members of the House, mostly Democrats, inserted earmarks into bills in 2008 alone for PMA clients:
More than 100 House members secured earmarks in a major spending bill for clients of a single lobbying firm — The PMA Group — known for its close ties to John P. Murtha , the congressman in charge of Pentagon appropriations.
“It shows you how good they were,” said Keith Ashdown, chief investigator at the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. “The sheer coordination of that would take an army to finish.” …
In the spending bill managed by Murtha, the fiscal 2008 Defense appropriation, 104 House members got earmarks for projects sought by PMA clients, according to Congressional Quarterly’s analysis of a database constructed by Ashdown’s group.
Those House members, plus a handful of senators, combined to route nearly $300 million in public money to clients of PMA through that one law (PL 110-116).
And when the lawmakers were in need — as they all are to finance their campaigns — PMA came through for them.
How well did they come through? Jonathan Allen and Alex Knott of CQ Politics estimates that PMA has contributed almost $3.3 million over the last eight years to the campaigns of these Representatives — and that’s just the legal donations. Federal investigators now apparently believe that PMA may have directed a lot more cash than that through strawman donors.
Who were the big beneficiaries? It’s almost impossible to list them all. Murtha and Pete Visclosky ($219K) are already known PMA sweethearts. Jim Moran’s (D-VA, $125K) inclusion comes as no surprise, either. Many people may not know John Larson, the Democratic Caucus Chair, but PMA knew him — and got him almost $38,000. Pelosi got $4500, Steny Hoyer $11,000, and James Clyburn (Democratic Whip) got $3,000. Among the three top Democratic leaders, Pelosi was the only one to give a PMA client an earmark: $2 million for a satellite receiver contract.
PMA scored over $300 million for its clients in just one bill for a hundredth of that total over eight years of donations. I’d say they spent their money wisely.
What will be the next campaign slogan for Democrats? They used “culture of corruption” after the Abramoff scandal to claim the moral high ground. In 2010, will they run on this slogan: “We stay bought”?
Update: $3.3 million is almost a hundredth of $300 million, not a tenth. Note to self: do NOT do math before the first cup of coffee.