Isn’t America great? Companies make money the old-fashioned way–open an office in the district of Rep. John Murtha and hire one of his former aides as a lobbyist. Not that Murtha is alone. Rep. Jim Moran is in on the game too.
Between 2003 and 2009, Mr. Murtha and Mr. Moran helped deliver $12 million to MobilVox in earmarks – money that is set aside by lawmakers for pet projects in the government’s annual spending bills. The latest House defense spending bill introduced and pushed through by Mr. Murtha includes an additional $2 million earmark for MobilVox requested by Mr. Moran. The bill is currently pending in conference committee.
MobilVox, the two lawmakers and the lobbyists hired by the company insist they followed all congressional rules and campaign fundraising laws, and that all earmark decisions were made on their merit. None has been accused of any wrongdoing.
But MobilVox’s success fits a pattern of doing business in Washington that ethics watchdogs deride as a “pay-to-play” system – one that became infamous during Republican years and continues to operate under a Democratic leadership that had promised to change a “culture of corruption” in Washington.
Mr. Moran’s and Mr. Murtha’s relationship with MobilVox “raises red flags. It is not subtle. It looks bad,” said Joel Hefley, a retired Republican congressman from Colorado who chaired the House ethics committee when that panel admonished then-Majority leader Tom DeLay for ethical lapses earlier this decade.
Mr. Hefley, who retired in 2006, said he was particularly troubled by MobilVox’s opening of an office in Mr. Murtha’s district, saying that while there may have been a good reason, “It looks like it was done to curry favor with a person who has power to benefit them.”
In a time of budget crisis every million dollars should matter even in Washington. Especially military outlays, given the fact that the U.S. spends almost as much as the rest of the world combined. The last thing Congress should be doing is wasting money on defense pork.
And then there was the Democratic campaign against ethical lapses by the GOP. Not that anyone should be surprised by the obvious hypocrisy, but the Democrats should have the good grace to retire the word “reform” from their vocabulary if they won’t clean up the sort of blatant abuses evidence by Messers. Murtha and Moran, as well as other paladins of virtue, such as Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel.