The House ethics committee issued a report Friday clearing seven lawmakers who were under investigation in a probe tied to earmarks for clients of defunct lobbying firm PMA Group.
The lawmakers cleared in the report include the late Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), who until his death headed a key defense appropriations subcommittee. The investigation into PMA Group had cast a cloud on the powerful lawmaker's reputation; PMA Group was headed by former Murtha aide Paul Magliocchetti, Murtha died earlier this month.
As part of its report, the committee included a summary of an interview Murtha had with the Office of Congressional Ethics. The summary shows that Murtha stood by PMA after news of an FBI raid on the firm's offices prompted committee staff and Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), who chairs the appropriations committee, to suggest removing earmarks for PMA clients. "Representative Murtha would not," notes the report. It goes on to say that "The Congressman explained that the appropriations process can't work without a good lobbyist, and PMA had as good lobbyists as you can find."
Murtha said PMA hired people who knew the issues, and Magliocchetti specifically "was smarter than the average lobbyist and understood what was important to Members." For instance, he brought Murtha projects that would create jobs in his district.
Murtha said he had not spoken with Magliocchetti since "shortly after" the FBI raided PMA's offices, but the summary does not say what the two men discussed in that conversation. Murtha said he had a personal relationship with another former PMA lobbyist, Dan Cunningham, but the two had never spoken about the FBI raid.
And Murtha told OCE that he knew companies believed campaign contributions could help them get earmarks, but "he often did not even recognize the individuals who attend his fundraisers."