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Corruption Chronicles

Murtha Gets Payback For Earmark Dollars

Defense contractors that annually get millions of U.S. tax dollars in earmarks from a powerful Democrat congressman notorious for pork spending will host a lavish “payback” dinner to thank him for steering government cash their way.

As chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee, Pennsylvania Representative John Murtha oversees hundreds of billions of dollars in military spending each year and he steers a great deal of the money to his well-connected friends and lobbyists. In the last four years alone, Murtha has steered at least $600 million in earmarks to his district and an estimated $2 billion since joining the powerful appropriations committee.

Serving his 33rd year in Congress, Murtha is also known for steering lucrative no-bid defense contracts to companies that open offices and hire people in his district. Many of the firms have received poor reviews by the Pentagon, which in many cases has deemed the work wasteful and unnecessary or labeled the firms inefficient and mismanaged. Never the less, taxpayer dollars keep flowing their way.

To show their appreciation, the contractors hold an annual payback dinner for Murtha at a fancy Washington-area venue. This year’s event (“an evening with Jack and Joyce Murtha”) is scheduled for February 27 at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City in Virginia, across the Potomac from Washington. Diners (earmark recipients) will pay $1,500 a person to eat with Murtha and his wife.

Of interesting note is that the invitations to the costly dinner were sent out right before the annual deadline for earmark applications. Murtha ended up getting more earmark dollars than any other legislator in the massive 2008 military spending bill. He secured 48 earmarks for a total $150.5 million.


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