Update: Sen. Jim DeMint is leading “100,000 Strong for Earmark Reform.” Help out if you can.
John Murtha and Johnstown, Pa., have been living high on the hog for decades. The Wall Street Journal reviews the pork-laden record today with “How Lawmaker Rebuilt Hometown on Earmarks.” It’s Earmark-a-palooza!
In the massive 2008 military-spending bill now before Congress — which could go to a House-Senate conference as soon as Thursday — Mr. Murtha has steered more taxpayer funds to his congressional district than any other member. The Democratic lawmaker is chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, which will oversee more than $459 billion in military spending this year.
Johnstown’s good fortune has come at the expense of taxpayers everywhere else. Defense contractors have found that if they open an office here and hire the right lobbyist, they can get lucrative, no-bid contracts. Over the past decade, Concurrent Technologies Corp., a defense-research firm that employs 800 here, got hundreds of millions of dollars thanks to Rep. Murtha despite poor reviews by Pentagon auditors. The National Drug Intelligence Center, with 300 workers, got $509 million, though the White House has tried for years to shut it down as wasteful and unnecessary. Another beneficiary: MTS Technologies, run by a man who got his start some 40 years ago shining shoes at Mr. Murtha’s Johnstown Minute Car Wash.
A review by The Wall Street Journal of dozens of such contracts funded by Mr. Murtha’s committee shows that many weren’t sought by the military or federal agencies they were intended to benefit. Some were inefficient or mismanaged, according to interviews, public records and previously unpublished Pentagon audits. One Murtha-backed firm, ProLogic Inc., is under federal investigation for allegedly diverting public funds to develop commercial software, people close to the case say. The company denies wrongdoing and is in line to get millions of dollars more in the pending defense bill…In addition to using taxpayer money to build a local defense industry, Mr. Murtha has funded by legislative fiat miles of new roads, water projects, medical facilities and federal offices for his district. He even brought a Marine attack-helicopter squadron here; it’s next to the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport. Mr. Murtha has steered at least $600 million in earmarks to his district in the past four years, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan Washington group. The nonprofit group estimates he’s sent $2 billion or more to the district since joining the appropriations committee.
As is his usual stance, Murtha told the WSJ he’s “not going to apologize.”
He never does.
The WSJ piece ends with a trip down memory lane to Murtha’s Abscam infamy:
Mr. Murtha’s devotion to his district became clear 26 years ago, in an infamous encounter that would foreshadow the young congressman’s long career. He told an FBI agent — posing as a lawyer for a rich Arab sheik — that he was reluctant to take the $50,000 in cash the agent placed on a desk, supposedly in exchange for help getting the sheik a U.S. visa.
…”I expect to be in the f-ing leadership of the House,” he told the agent. “I’m delighted to do business with you. S-, I do business like this all the time to get companies into the area.”
Here’s your Murtha Abscam video flashback: Diana Irey’s campaign ad, “Now We Know Why:”
Don’t forget: William T. Russell is running to unseat this vulgar porker. Give him your support.