Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Visclosky campaign committees and legislative office subpoenaed by feds

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The U.S. Justice Department has served grand-jury subpoenas to the two campaign committees, the Congressional office, and certain employees of U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st.

Those subpoenas request documents related to The PMA Group, the Washington, D.C. lobbying firm reportedly under investigation by the FBI and whose associates and clients have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Visclosky’s campaign committees.

Visclosky declined, however, to comment on the exact nature of the documents subpoenaed in an interview after deadline today. “I can’t be more specific about the documents because it’s a grand-jury investigation and it would not be appropriate to comment on it,” he told the Chesterton Tribune. “It is my intent to fully comply with the request for information.”

Subpoenas were served in the first week of May to the Visclosky for Congress Committee and the Calumet PAC, Visclosky said, while his Congressional office in Washington, D.C., and in Merrillville was subpoenaed this week.

Although several staffers were also served, Visclosky said, he has not personally been interviewed or contacted “in any way, shape, or form by anyone in the Department of Justice.”

“I have always conducted myself with the highest degree of integrity,” Visclosky said. “As we work through the process I will continue to work as I always have for the people of Northwest Indiana. And I have every intention of running for re-election in 2010.”

“It is my intention to fully cooperate with the investigation,” Visclosky also said in a prepared statement released earlier this morning, “consistent with my constitutional obligations to Congress and my duties and responsibilities to my constituents. . . . I am confident that at the end of this process, no one will conclude that I have done anything wrong or harmed my constituents in any way.”

Visclosky did tell the Tribune that it will be the decision of his counsel, Washington, D.C., law firm Steptoe & Johnson, as to which documents “are appropriate to turn over” to the Department of Justice and which are privileged under the Speech and Debate Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which, he said, “is protective of legislative activity and the decision-making process” as part of the separation of powers.

“The documents in the Congressional office that are not subject” to the Speech and Debate Clause “will obviously be forthcoming,” Visclosky said.

Since 1989 PMA has specialized in representing high-tech businesses and obtaining for its clients lucrative federal contracts or “earmarks,” many of them secured by Visclosky. PMA associates have also donated more than $150,000 to Visclosky’s campaign committees since 2001, while associates of PMA clients have donated tens of thousands of dollars more.

It was reported in February that PMA is under federal investigation. It was also reported that month that three contributors to Visclosky’s campaign committees--listed in Federal Election Commission records as PMA Associates--appear to have no true affiliation with PMA at all. Visclosky announced in February that he would return a total of $18,000 in contributions made over the last two election cycles by those three men.

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 committees over the last five election cycles.

Under current House Ethics Committee rules, 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.

Earlier this spring Visclosky announced that he would not seek to secure earmarks for any private or for-profit entity in the Fiscal Year 2009 budget.

 

Posted 5/29/2009

 

 

 

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