October 3, 2007

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Is there a connection between earmarks and corruption?

This Roll Call story might make you wonder:

Since hiring Richard Kaelin, Visclosky’s former chief of staff, at the beginning of 2004, PMA and its clients have roughly doubled their fundraising support for the Congressman. That help includes contributing 50 percent of the total funds raised through June 30, 2007, by Calumet PAC, Visclosky’s four-year-old leadership political action committee, according to an analysis of federal election records.

It is a classic Washington, D.C., triangle of interlocking self-interests: in this case, a powerful Congressman, an influential lobby shop and the lobby firm’s numerous clients. And while it is impossible to know the exact reasons that some firms get earmarks and others do not, in Visclosky’s case, there are certain irrefutable facts: PMA and its clients are the Congressman’s top fundraisers — and PMA clients his top earmarking recipients.

Coincidence? I’m sure they’d argue that there’s nothing shady going on here. But why should we believe them? More coincidence here:

Clients of the PMA Group have fared particularly well by Visclosky this year. They won 14 of 28 earmarks he inserted into the Defense spending bill alone — a total of $28 million in projects, or some 52 percent of the funds Visclosky earmarked in the bill, according to an analysis by Roll Call and Taxpayers for Common Sense. (A Roll Call analysis of Visclosky’s earmarks last month undercounted his support for PMA clients, since the firm failed to file a mid-year report with the Senate detailing its work for ProLogic, a West Virginia-based company and a tenant in the technology center.)

The Indiana lawmaker’s help steering millions of federal dollars to PMA clients this year comes against the backdrop of what appears to be the firm’s most aggressive fundraising for him to date. In the first six months of this year, PMA and its clients contributed $248,400 to Visclosky’s leadership PAC and personal campaign coffers, 29 percent of his total haul.

It’s as if there’s a culture of corruption, or something.

UPDATE: People are accusing me of playing Name That Party! Well, I try not to make a big deal of party affiliation in these Porkbusters posts, because pork is — quite clearly — a bipartisan problem. But lest I be accused of hiding the ball, well, here you go.

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