To hear Robert Murtha explain, if he had to tell us what he does for the government, the terrorists would win. The Washington Post seems less than convinced. They report that John Murtha’s nephew has a knack of garnering millions in Pentagon contracts without competition, and that his facility seems less than productive enough to deliver that kind of value back to the DoD:
The headquarters of Murtech, in a low-slung, bland building in a Glen Burnie business park, has its blinds drawn tight and few signs of life. On several days of visits, a handful of cars sit in the parking lot, and no trucks arrive at the 10 loading bays at the back of the building.
Yet last year, Murtech received $4 million in Pentagon work, all of it without competition, for a variety of warehousing and engineering services. With its long corridor of sparsely occupied offices and an unmanned reception area, Murtech’s most striking feature is its owner — Robert C. Murtha Jr., 49. He is the nephew of Rep. John P. Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who has significant sway over the Defense Department’s spending as chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.
Robert Murtha said he is not at liberty to discuss in detail what his company does, but for four years it has subsisted on defense contracts, according to records and interviews. He said Murtech’s 17 employees “provide necessary logistical support” to Pentagon testing programs that focus on detecting chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, “and that’s about as far as I feel comfortable going.” Giving more details could provide important clues to terrorist plotters, he said.
Wow! That must be some kind of warehousing work going on at Murtech! Murtha claims that the no-bid contracts he received came because the government was “in a bind” after one of their other warehousing contracts ended, and they needed someone already established in the field. He also claims that the name “Murtha” hasn’t helped him in the business of no-bid Pentagon contracts, but at least one of his contracts came through PMA, the John Murtha-associated lobbying group now at the center of a federal investigation for corruption in earmarking and influence peddling.
As far as the name “Murtha” being a hindrance, the Washington Post notes that Robert’s not the only Murtha doing all right despite that supposed handicap. His father, John Murtha’s brother Robert Sr, runs another highly-successful lobbying group, KSA, that specializes in — wait for it — defense contracts from the Appropriations Committee. If the name “Murtha” is a drag on government contracting, imagine what they could do by changing their names … maybe to Visclosky.
There may be good reasons to occasionally award no-bid contracts for highly specialized work, but warehousing doesn’t fall into that category. Granting no-bid Pentagon contracts to a powerful Congressman’s nephew screams for an investigation, and a deeper look at the “culture of corruption” that seems to surround John Murtha and his allies on Capitol Hill.