U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, was expecting the House to take some sort
of action later today with respect to an inquiry into The PMA Group, the
Washington, D.C., lobbying firm reportedly under investigation by the FBI.
PMA has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Visclosky’s campaign
committee, as have many of its clients, for some of whom Visclosky has
secured millions of dollars in federal contracts.
“I have been urging the House leadership to open an inquiry into PMA,”
Visclosky told the Chesterton Tribune today. “I am encouraged that
things are moving into that particular direction and I intend to support
taking action later today in the House.”
“What form that action takes, who offers it, how it will turn out, I don’t
know,” Visclosky added.
Last week the House killed, in a mostly party-line vote, a resolution
introduced by U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., calling for the House Ethics
Committee to investigate the relationship between earmarks and campaign
Visclosky joined the Democrats in voting against that resolution on Feb. 26.
Today Visclosky remarked that Flake’s resolution had “not been well-crafted”
and that Flake himself has acknowledged as much and reintroduced a new
resolution specifically citing PMA.
“But whether it will be that resolution” the House acts on today “or a
modification” Visclosky was unable to say.
Flake has advocated a change in House Ethics Committee rules, under which
currently members may accept campaign contributions from donors for whom
they have secured earmarks, on the ground that members have no “financial
interest” in those campaign contributions. In an op-piece published in the
Feb. 23 edition of the New York Times, Flake argued that this “pay-to-play
loophole” should be closed.
Visclosky noted today that he supported the Democratic-led reform in the
last Congress which now requires the full disclosure of all earmarks secured
by members. “You should know every earmark I get in any bill, whether it’s
for a for-profit, a not-for-profit, or a public agency,” Visclosky said.
“There is something terribly wrong if I’m not proud to have my name by an
Visclosky also noted that on the first day of this Congress--prior to the
reports of an FBI investigation into PMA--the Democrats successfully
championed another reform which will require every member to list on his or
her website every earmark he or she has requested, whether or not that
earmark is secured. “The more information you have, the less questioning
there will be,” Visclosky said, “because there will be complete
Late last month Visclosky announced that he will return $18,000 in campaign
contributions made by PMA associates after media reports suggested that
those associates in fact have no meaningful connection to PMA.
Data compiled by Taxpayers for Common Sense and the Center for Responsive
Politics show that in Fiscal Year 2008 Visclosky secured 16 earmarks
totaling $23,800,000 for PMA clients. Eight of those PMA clients, the
recipients of nine separate earmarks totaling $12.6 million, have
contributed a total of $343,599 to Visclosky’s campaign committee over the
last five election cycles.