JUNE 26, 2007
A veteran Pennsylvania congressman notorious for sneaking massive earmarks into federal spending bills used his power as chairman of a powerful House Defense committee to steer millions of dollars in federal contracts to companies represented by a pair of lobbying firms closely associated with him and his brother.
Representative John Murtha, the Democrat chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, has also steered millions of dollars in earmarks to companies that are not even located in the area he represents even though earmark dollars are supposed to go to projects in the lawmaker’s home district.
The companies were however, represented by the lobbying firms connected to Murtha and his brother, who worked for one of them. Once the out-of-state companies receive their taxpayer dollars via earmarks, Murtha steers lucrative federal contracts their way and business booms.
One example is a Maryland technology firm called Aeptec Microsystems. Although he doesn’t represent Maryland, Murtha pursued millions of dollars worth of legislative earmarks for the company and its federal contracts subsequently blossomed from about $13 million in 2000 to $33 million in 2004.
Murtha is famous for wasting taxpayer dollars by allocating millions in hidden earmarks for his pet projects. Even in the wake of so-called congressional earmark reform, he has exploited loopholes to secure the passage of illegitimate earmarks in bills that involve intelligence activities.
He recently lied to fellow lawmakers to secure a $23 million earmark for an obscure drug intelligence center in his hometown of Johnstown Pennsylvania. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence had already ordered the center be closed for poor performance and Justice Department officials confirmed there was no plan to continue operating the center. Yet Murtha falsely claimed that the facility was to take charge of the “vitally important” terrorist no-fly list to secure the money.
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