... Pennsylvania Association for Individuals with Disabilities (PAID) will sponsor a charity golf tournament priced at upwards of $10,000 on September 24, 2007, at the Argyle Country Club in Silver Springs, MD.
The group first came under fire in December, 2006, after the Washington Post reported “PAID has become a gathering point for defense contractors and lobbyists with business before Murtha's defense appropriations subcommittee, and for Pennsylvania businesses and universities that have thrived on federal money obtained by Murtha.”
The main named sponsor of last year’s tournament was Applied Ordnance Technology, which has seen its share of federal funding skyrocket after the company opened an office in Johnstown, PA, at the behest of Murtha.
PAID came under additional scrutiny this week from the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, which reported former U.S. Senator and Vietnam veteran Max Cleland, D-GA - a triple-amputee - quit PAID’s board of directors amid an “investigation of the group’s limited achievements and close ties to a broad network of people and companies Murtha has aided.”
As late as June 25, 2007, PAID’s website named Murtha as its Honorary Chairman. His name has since been removed from the group’s Internet homepage.
PAID’s stated claim of representing “60 million persons with disabilities” was questioned by Roll Call’s Paul Singer, who reported that well-established organizations aiding Pennsylvania’s disabled “had never heard of or worked with PAID.”
A study by the U.S. Census Bureau found that roughly 50 million Americans reported some level of disability; meaning that if PAID’s claims were accurate, they represented more than the entire nationwide population of the disabled.
Of course this really isn't anything new. Murtha's shady dealings go back to the 70s with Abscam and his obnoxious pork-barrel-dealings pretty regularly make the news. For instance, see commentary by Colson in October 2006, or by Barber in November 2006 or by Bluey in May 2007 (just to name a few).
Even earlier this month, prior to the PAID stuff (btw, isn't PAID a great name for a what amounts to a fake charity used to funnel money to influence a congressman? Hiding in plain sight or what?), the Washington Times ran a piece aptly titled "Murtha Shows Appetite for Pork." Some choice selections from that article:
From the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport to the stretch of U.S. 219 named Jack P. Murtha Highway, the Pennsylvania Democrat leaves his mark with federal taxpayer dollars.
"Murtha is a poster child for what is wrong with Congress," said Leslie K. Paige, spokeswoman for Citizens Against Government Waste, a group targeting mismanagement in Washington. "There are shenanigans going on behind the scenes, and it leads to corruption."
The budget watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense says Mr. Murtha, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense, slipped at least $163.8 million in earmarks into 2008 spending bills.
Murtha, known for brokering backroom earmark deals, insists that it is Congress' job to appropriate funds and that members know what is best for their districts.
"We go over every single earmark," he said on the House floor before the August recess. "We don't apologize for them because we think the members know as much about what goes on in their district as the bureaucrats."
[Murtha] also funneled $1.5 million to Concurrent Technologies Corp. (CTC), a Johnstown-based research center, the top executives of which have given tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Mr. Murtha, according to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC).
FEC records show that since 2002, Mr. Murtha's campaigns have gotten $11,500 from CTC President Daniel R. DeVos and his wife, Patricia; $8,500 from CTC executives Edgar Berkley and Jerry Hudson; and $3,750 from CTC General Manager and Treasurer Margaret A. DiVirgilio.
So much for the Democrat's promises to lead the "most honest, most open, and most ethical Congress in history."
My appeal to Johnstown, PA voters: help lower everyone's taxes and cut back on corruption - kick the bum out.
My appeal to the US Congress: This kind of stuff - dealing in the trade of votes, earmarks, and campaign contributions is the stuff you should be making a big deal about. The Senator Craig and Senator Vitter stuff ... I don't mind that it makes the news - it is news worthy - and Senators that plead guilty to crimes should go - but all that pales in comparison to this stuff. The trade of votes for earmarks and the trade of earmarks to the highest campaign contributor puts the very basis of our democracy in jeopardy.