Tonight the House Ethics Committee announced that it was conducting a preliminary inquiry into the now defunct PMA lobbying firm and its relationships with House lawmakers. The firm, which was founded by former Democratic staffers on the House Armed Services Committee was shuttered after the FBI raided its offices last year. Basically its employees stand accused of making PAC contributions to members of the Armed Services Committee in exchange for earmarked appropriations which benefited PMA’s clients in the defense industry.
In an editorial, the San Francisco Examiner says the scheme PMA stands accused of, “appears to be a Chicago-style “pay to play” network that trades earmarks for campaign dough that could potentially involve at least 100 congressmen.” These Congressmen earmarked $300 million in defense earmarks for PMA’s clients.
Among this group of Congressmen is Virginia Democrat Jim Moran. According to the Associated Press, Moran has received $997,348 since 1989. Some Republicans have called on Congressman Moran to give the money back. As for earmarks, Moran has been prolific. (Critics also pointed out that many defense contractors with business before Rep. Moran’s subcommittee made a significant amount of campaign contributions to the gubernatorial campaign of his brother, former Del. Brian Moran.)
I think that’s the right thing to do. While Congressman Moran hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing, I believe he should give this money back until the investigation is completed. He certainly should say more about what he knows and what his ties are to PMA. (After all, his colleague, Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.) has temporarily given up his subcommittee chairmanship after Federal investigators subpoenaed him.)
As the New York Times writes:
It is a sordid and far-too-common tale: PMA’s top lobbyists began as House appropriations staffers and then capitalized on their connections and savvy to strike it rich in the private sector. Still the full story needs to be laid out before the public of how this money roundelay worked — from contractor to lawmaker, with the American taxpayer always footing the bill.
Of all the members of our Virginia Congressional delegation, I probably have the most in common with Jim Moran when it comes to policy issues. If I were a member of Congress, I would vote with Moran almost all the time. In that sense, he has been a perfect representative for me. (And I am a constituent.)
But in recent years, Congressman Moran’s personal behavior has troubled me. I didn’t like the punching of a fellow Congressman on the House floor, I didn’t like the bullying of a kid in Old Town and I hated the way he handled his divorce, his personal finances and I certainly don’t like the sniff of anti-Semitism which came out in the 2004 campaign. Now he stands accused of participating in a pay for play political scheme.
As much as I admire his policy stances, I wish my Congressman would clean up his act. If there was a credible Democrat to run against him in the 2010 primary on ethics and integrity, I would give them a serious look. And if the GOP would nominate a moderate Republican in the mold of Tom Davis, I would vote for them against Rep. Moran.
Congressman Moran, please don’t give the GOP an opening. I don’t want to return to the days of Stan Parris. Maybe you should retire before this happens.
I think there is no shortage of Democrats who could represent me in Congress without the ethical baggage that comes with you in office.