Federal Politics

Published — May 28, 2010 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

House ethics office asks for DoJ probe of earmarks

Introduction

The House Office of Congressional Ethics has asked the Justice Department to probe the relationship between campaign contributions and earmarks based on evidence the ethics office collected while examining the now-defunct PMA Group.

The evidence will not be made public, despite requests to do so from Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Rep. Paul Hodes, D-N.H. The ethics office reports to the House Ethics Committee, which reviewed the evidence and cleared seven members of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, according to a news release issued by the ethics office.

Earmarks issued by members of the subcommittee were the subject of two investigative stories by the Center, dubbed The Murtha Method, after the late chairman of the subcommittee, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa. The stories looked at the earmarks’ relationship with campaign cash received by lawmakers and the revolving door of former congressional staffers-turned-lobbyists.

The ethics office’s February report illustrated how these connections are viewed by members of Congress, their staff, lobbyists, and corporate executives. It found that “certain persons and companies saw their campaign donations as affecting decisions about earmarks.”

For example, Gabrielle Carruth, a former staffer for Murtha who became a lobbyist for Argon ST Inc. in 2008, seemed to view campaign contributions as an award in exchange for past earmarks and as a way to help win new ones.

Gabrielle Carruth and the late Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa. (Photo courtesy Northeastern University Alumni Magazine)

As an Argon lobbyist, Carruth sent a Sept. 19, 2008, e-mail to Argon’s Jay Grove, congratulating him on a $6 million earmark. Then she wrote, “As a company Congress helped us out with 29.6 million dollars of enhancements, most coming from Mr. Murtha. He has [sic] having one last fundraiser at the Army and Navy club Tuesday. I really could use your help with a contribution.”

Grove responded that he could not contribute due to a death in his family.

In another e-mail, Carruth wrote to Argon executives inviting them to a fundraiser for Murtha in early 2008.

“We have maxed out our PAC contributions so I am also looking for personal contribtutions [sic] to his campaign and to this [sic] Leadership PAC,” she wrote. “The Chairman has been very helpful to us over the years and we will again be asking for his support this year on a number of issues important [to] our company and industry.”

Carruth, now a lobbyist for Lockheed Martin Corp., the world’s largest defense contractor, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Both politicians and outside entities can set up political action committees (PACs). Defense contractors and other companies cannot donate directly to political campaigns, but employees can donate to company PACs that in turn give money to candidates.

Richard Ianieri, a former Argon executive, wrote back and said would list himself as an employee of Coherent Systems International. Argon acquired Coherent in 2007.

Ianieri, Coherent’s former CEO, pled guilty last year to involvement in a kickback scheme where a subcontractor to his company on an earmark-funded contract paid him $200,000 in bribes.

The FBI earlier this week publicly acknowledged that a criminal investigation related to Murtha has not concluded. The Bureau released clippings of news articles related to the issues it was probing, in response to Freedom of Information Act requests filed after Murtha’s death, including a FOIA by the Center. However, “the bulk of the file’s FBI documents are not releasable until the conclusion of the investigation” by the FBI’s Pittsburgh office “into allegations of kickbacks involving government defense contractors.”

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

jan v
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jan v

all the lobbyists are running all our government agencies and all the career civil servants who know how to run the country have been fired. YOU think this is a good thing ? what a crock…

thomas alessi
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thomas alessi

I am for Trump

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT

David
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David

Are you on some kind of drugs? Writing in caps makes me think that you are grumpy old fart or a uneducated hillbilly.