Visclosky Hands Off Key Bill, Citing PMA Probe

It looks like Rep. Pete Visclosky is starting to pay a political price for his ties to the now-defunct PMA lobbying firm.

Last week, we told you that the Feds have subpoenaed the Indiana congressman for documents relating to the firm. And now Visclosky has announced that he’ll hand off to a colleague responsibility for a key appropriations bill on the subcommittee he chairs.In a statement, Visclosky said:

I have represented the people of Northwest Indiana to the best of my ability and I have always abided by the law and adhered to the rules and code of ethics of the House.

“However, as a firm believer in the institution of the House of Representatives, I intend to ask Congressman Ed Pastor to temporarily handle the Fiscal Year 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations bill during committee and House consideration.

Visclosky told the Northwest Indiana Times that the move was done “to avoid the disruption of the process” that would be caused by the expected Republican attempts to make political hay out of the PMA issue.

Visclosky has taken almost $200,000 from donors with ties to PMA, which has been his top donor every year since 2004. And last year he got more than $20 million in earmarks for the firm’s clients. In addition, his former chief of staff, Rich Kaelin, was a PMA lobbyist.

The office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a spokesman for Visclosky both declined to comment on whether the House leadership played a role in pressuring Visclosky to hand over responsibility for the bill.

Late Update: Pelosi’s office has given us the following quote, which doesn’t appear to answer the question:

This is a personal decision and the Speaker respects it.