Today's Wall Street Journal piece adds more fuel to the fire under Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), reporting that Mollohan partnered with an old friend of his to buy a 300-acre farm just months after securing an earmark for his friend's company. And it confirms that federal agents are on the case.
Here are the basic facts on the farm deal: sometime in late 2004, Mollohan inserted a $2.1 million earmark for FMW, a company headed by his friend Dale McBride. On May 31,2005, Mollohan and McBride teamed up to buy a $900,000 farm together.
There's no evidence that the money for the earmark kicked back to Mollohan himself, but, as the WSJ reports, "House ethics guidelines warn lawmakers to avoid business deals with those who benefit from their official acts." Mollohan was the ranking Democrat on the House ethics committee until last Friday, remember. One wonders if this forthcoming piece had anything to do with his stepping down - according to the Journal, his spokesman responded to the reporter's questions last Friday, so he knew it was coming.
Perhaps the most newsworthy nugget in the piece is that FBI agents seem to be making the rounds, asking questions:
Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have begun asking questions in Washington and West Virginia about the lawmaker's holdings and whether they were properly disclosed, according to people who have been contacted in recent days.
Although the Journal follows with the caveat that these types of investigations "often end with no charges filed," for the time being it just doesn't look good for Mollohan.