Democratic uneasiness about John Murtha, Nancy Pelosi’s candidate for House Majority Leader, appears to be rising. “Some Democratic lawmakers and watchdog groups say they are baffled that Pelosi would go out of her way to back Murtha’s candidacy after pledging to make the new 110th Congress the most ethical and corruption-free in history,” reports the Washington Post:
Murtha, a longtime senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, has battled accusations over the years that he has traded federal spending for campaign contributions, that he has abused his post as ranking party member on the Appropriations defense subcommittee, and that he has stood in the way of ethics investigations. Those charges come on top of Murtha’s involvement 26 years ago in the FBI’s Abscam bribery sting.
The paper has also published a handy tear-out guide to Murtha’s problems:
* Murtha’s relationship with defense industry lobbyist Paul Magliocchetti, whose PMA group and 11 of the firm’s clients contributed a total of $274,649 to Murtha’s campaign in the past two years. PMA clients received at least 60 “earmarks” in the 2006 defense spending bill, worth $95 million.
* Murtha’s business dealings with his brother, Robert “Kit” Murtha, a former senior partner at KSA Consulting. A 2004 defense spending bill that went through Murtha’s Appropriations defense subcommittee benefited at least 10 companies represented by KSA.
*Murtha’s ethical scrape in the early 1980s, when he was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the federal Abscam bribery scandal and testified against two House colleagues.
One interesting aspect of this is that some Republicans tried to talk about Murtha’s ethics issues several months ago, when Murtha was being canonized for his call for “redeployment” of U.S. troops out of Iraq. There wasn’t much of an audience for it then. That seems to have changed.