Backing down isn’t Rep. John Murtha’s style.
The cantankerous House power-broker is under fire for his ties to the PMA lobbying firm, which just shut down amid reports of an FBI probe into its campaign contributions to friendly lawmakers, including Murtha, who have steered millions in federal earmarks to PMA clients.But in an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pennsylvania Democrat, was unapologetic:
“If I’m corrupt, it’s because I take care of my district. My job as a member of Congress is to make sure that we take care of what we see is necessary. Not the bureaucrats who are unelected over there in whatever White House, whether it’s Republican or Democrat. Those bureaucrats would like to control everything. Every president would like to have all the power and not have Congress change anything. But we’re closest to the people.
Added Murtha: Without earmarks, “Johnstown would have been like Detroit is today. We would have been a ghost town.”
PMA was founded by a former Murtha aide, Paul Magliocchetti. The FBI probe is believed to be focusing on whether Magliocchetti funneled illegal campaign contributions to friendly lawmakers, likely including Murtha. In return, the lawmakers may have steered earmarks to PMA clients.
Murtha argued that the Obama team’s recent recovery package was its own form of pork, telling the paper: “The stimulus package is the earmarks of the administration,”
He defended lobbyists, who, he said, “play an important part.”
And he said complaints about earmarks are an inside-the-beltway thing. “That’s only in Washington. That’s not out in the field. Out in the field people appreciate what has happened. They see the advantage to being able to help the district. And every district’s the same.”
Still, things may be heating up for Murtha in DC. As we noted earlier, An effort by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to get a congressional ethics investigation opened into PMA is gaining support in the House.