Roll Call: "Murtha Apparently Moved Earmark Between Brother’s Clients"

This seems pretty damning for Murtha:

In early 2005, Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) apparently added language to a tsunami relief bill shifting $8.2 million from a former client of his brother’s lobbying firm to a new client of the same firm.

That earmark is now tangled up in a federal indictment alleging that some of the money was skimmed by contractors and a Defense Department employee for their personal use.

Murtha’s spokesman said that no one in his office has any recollection of the transaction, and the House Appropriations Committee was unable to provide any information about how the language appeared in the tsunami relief bill.

But sources familiar with the appropriations process agreed it was impossible that a provision removing earmarks from one company in Murtha’s district and transferring the money to another company in his district could have been added to the bill without Murtha’s involvement, since he was at the time the ranking member on the subcommittee with jurisdiction over the language.

The provision appears in the House committee report of a March 2005 bill providing billions of dollars worth of military spending and aid to the Asian countries that were devastated by the December 2004 tsunami that killed more than 250,000 people.

The bill included a “technical corrections” section, which transferred $8.2 million to “other procurement, Air Force” for a project called the “mobile common data link gateway.” This project — later called the “ground mobile gateway” — was an effort to build a unified battlefield communications platform for the Air Force by a Pennsylvania company called Coherent Systems. . . . . .

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