In case you missed this news in our nation’s latest major lobbying scandal, Congressional Quarterly posted a list of the more than 100 members of Congress who secured earmarks — basically money for special projects — for clients of the embattled lobbying firm PMA. Three Colorado lawmakers made the bipartisan list: Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter, Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn.
The FBI is currently investigating PMA and apparently set off alarm bells in every corner of Capitol Hill as a result. PMA has worked Washington for years to gain mostly defense contracts for companies around the country. PMA clients last year received more than $300 million in earmarks included in just one defense-spending bill. The bill, PL 110-116, was managed by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who is chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and who is now on the hot seat — or the hottest of the hot seats — as the FBI investigation proceeds.
Colorado’s Perlmutter reportedly helped raise $2 million for IHS Inc., a defense contractor based in his 7th Congressional District. His office told The Denver Post that he’s following the lead of PMA-tainted politicians across the country and donating to charity the $2,000 he got from PMA. His alleged payola is going to the Boys & Girls Club.
Mark Udall likewise helped raise $2 million in PMA earmarks and received what looks like $6,553 in related campaign contributions. His office is looking into the matter.
Republican Rep. Lamborn appears only to have secured a paltry $1 million in earmarks and received $1,000 in contributions. He seems to be taking the Bush-Cheney approach to the matter; so far he has elected not to return calls from the press.
Lamborn and Udall’s earmarks appear to have benefited local defense contractor Lockheed Martin. Neither of their offices have returned calls for comment.
The Denver Post provides a peek at how this Washington lobby story unfolded locally, PMA magnanimously crossing the aisle to build bipartisan bridges:
Perlmutter said he was asked to join in the funding request for IHS Inc. with then-U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, a Littleton Republican, and former Colorado Sens. Ken Salazar, a Democrat, and Wayne Allard, a Republican. Representatives from IHS and “probably” from PMA met with his staff, [Perlmutter spokeswoman Leslie] Oliver said.
Here’s the meat from Congressional Quarterly’s report:
No matter what the outcome of the federal investigation, PMA’s earmark success illustrates how a well-connected lobbying firm operates on Capitol Hill. And earmark accountability rules imposed by the Democrats in 2007 make it possible to see how extensively PMA worked the Hill for its clients.
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.
According to CQ MoneyLine, the same House members who took responsibility for PMA’s earmarks in that spending bill have, since 2001, accepted a cumulative $1,815,138 in campaign contributions from PMA’s political action committee and employees of the firm.