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Thursday, February 26, 2009
Business as Usual: Neil Abercrombie Votes to Kill Motion to Investigate Pay-to-Play Earmark Schemes
By News Release @ 11:17 PM :: 13535 Views

Refuses to Investigate PMA’s Relationship with Democratic Lawmakers

Washington– Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) today continued to back-track on his empty promises to clean up corruption in Congress when he voted to kill a resolution introduced by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) that would “investigate the relationship between earmark requests already made by Members and the source and timing of past contributions.”

The resolution came after a series of reports in the media indicated there was a vast network of corrupt Democratic lawmakers engaging in pay-to-play schemes on behalf of the PMA Group. As indicated in the resolution, the Washington Post reported on February 14, 2009 that they “examined contributions that were reported as being made by [the firm’s] employees and consultants, and found several people who were not registered lobbyists and did not work at the lobbying firm.” (Washington Post, 02/14/2009)

Yet Neil Abercrombie voted to block the ethics investigation despite Speaker Pelosi’s pledge that Democrats would “drain the swamp” from Washington’s culture of corruption:

“That’s why we need a new direction here. That’s why we must sever the link between lobbyists and legislation so that we’re here for the people’s interest, not the special interests.” (Press Conference, September 29, 2006)

This latest revelation comes on the heels of the Democrats’ decision to forgo the removal of New York Congressman Charlie Rangel from his perch high atop the powerful Ways and Means Committee after the New York Times reported that Rangel “earned more than $75,000 in rental income from a villa he has owned in the Dominican Republic since 1988, but never reported it on his federal or state tax returns.” (New York Times, September 5, 2008)

“Neil Abercrombie claims he was sent to Washington to beat back the corrupt influence of money-peddlers on K Street. So far, however, their rhetoric has not matched their actions,” said NRCC Communications Director Ken Spain. “It’s been a long time coming for Speaker Pelosi to stop offering empty promises and start rolling up her sleeves.  Playing parlor games with the integrity of the House of Representatives is simply not an option.”

###

(Source: News Release from National Republican Campaign Committee)

Related: WaPo Despite Listing, Donors Don't Work for Firm Being Probed

Marvin Hoffman is listed in campaign finance records as one of the many lobbyists with the powerful PMA Group donating money to lawmakers. But Hoffman is a soon-to-retire information technology manager in Marina del Rey, Calif., who has never heard of the Arlington lobbying firm or the Indiana congressman to whom he supposedly gave $2,000.

"It's alarming that someone is stealing my identity somewhere," Hoffman, 75, said in an interview. "I've never heard of this company."

Another contributor listed as a PMA lobbyist is, in fact, a sales manager for an inflatable boat manufacturer in New Jersey. John Hendricksen said he did make campaign donations but never worked at PMA and does not know how he ended up listed in records that way.

These errors, along with other unusual donations linked to the firm, come as the Justice Department examines allegations that PMA may have violated campaign finance laws. The offices of PMA, which ranked last year as the 10th-largest Washington lobbying firm by earnings, were raided in November by FBI agents and Defense Department investigators.

Federal investigators are focused on allegations that PMA founder Paul Magliocchetti, a former appropriations staffer close to  Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), may have reimbursed some of his staff to cover contributions made in their names to Murtha and other lawmakers, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.

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