Monday, March 23, 2009

FBI Investigating PMA, one of Norm Dick's Supporters

Money in politics plays a pivotal role in shaping public policy in individual states and nationally. If you want to know who is shaping America's public policy follow the money.

For your convenience, I have included a link to an interactive map that outlnes the relationships between Congress, former Congressional employees and industry lobbyists at PMA:

Real Time Investigations posted the following lead in on their website: "Congressman Norm Dicks has never been shy about accepting campaign donations from favor seekers."

"Now the FBI is investigating one of Dicks’ most generous donors — the powerhouse lobbying firm PMA Group." (Real time investigations article can be accessed by clicking title of post).

The entire post is worth reading, but the excerpt below particularly caught my eye: "The sheer volume of donations from PMA lobbyists raises questions. For example, Sandra K. Welch retired from PMA two years ago as a lobbyist with expertise in education. Her husband was a police officer in Fairfax County, Va. They now live in a Florida home for which they paid about $197,000, according to real-estate records.

Between 2003 and 2006, the couple contributed $121,000 to congressional campaigns as well as $5,000 annually to PMA’s political-action committee. From 2001 to 2006, the couple contributed $12,300 to Dicks’ campaign, with the Fairfax police officer listed in campaign-disclosure records as a PMA consultant."

Who is the PMA Group? The PMA Group assists clients with obtaining defense "earmarks," which are best described as no-bid contracts that federal agencies feel pressure to award companies selected by individual lawmakers.

David Heath, of the Seattle Times writes, "In the 2008 defense bill alone, lawmakers gave PMA clients 172 earmarks. Some of those clients had numerous lobbying firms working on their behalf.""Many of the lawmakers sponsoring those earmarks received generous political contributions from donors with PMA ties.

Since 2003, individuals or groups with PMA ties gave more than $2.5 million to the campaigns of 165 members of Congress, according to the Seattle Times' analysis.

Norm Dicks, who received $84,000 in contributions from PMA is waiting for the results of the investigation before he returns his PMA contributions.

Senator Patty Murray, amid speculation about the legality of the donations, recently donated $3,500 in questionable PMA contributions to Food Lifeline, a charity.

Want additional documentation? David Heath of the Seattle Times reports on PMA Group’s contributions to Rep. Norm Dicks and the earmarks he secured for their clients (there’s a database for all of Congress here, and Dicks’ earmarks are here.) David Heath is the reporter behind Seattle Times’ Favor Factory project.

For additional posts regarding open government and transparency, check out Bill Allison and Anupama Narayanswamy's blog Real Time Investigations on the Sunlight Foundation's website. The two investigative journalists are posting a diary of investigations about their attempts to make Congress more transparent. The Sunlight Foundation in headquartered in Washington D.C.

Real Time Investigations link:

Background Information:

Wikipedia: "The PMA Group was founded by Paul Magliocchetti in 1989.[2] For a decade, Magliocchetti worked as a senior staffer on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee under its chairman, U.S. Rep. John Murtha (D-PA). In September 2007, the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) ranked Murtha, a congressman for thirty-six years, one of the twenty-two "most corrupt" members of Congress, due to "alleged ethics violations stemming “from abuse of his position on the subcommittee to benefit the lobbying firm of a former long-term staffer and for threatening to block earmarks of other members for political purposes."" Since Magliocchetti's departure from the defense subcommmittee, PMA and its clients have established themselves as "major contributors to Murtha's campaign committee," donating well over $200,000 to the 2002, 2004, and 2006 campaign cycles. Consequently, PMA's clients have received notable benefits from Murth's earmarks. In 2006, for example, PMA clients were given "at least 60 earmarks totaling $95.1 million."[4]

Interactive Donations Map: Courtesy of Muckety:

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