Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Visclosky: House likely to open probe of lobby firm

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By KEVIN NEVERS

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 contributions.

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 earmark.”

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 transparency.”

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.

 

Posted 3/5/2009

 

 

 

 

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