Several Dozens Congressmen being investigated in ethic probes

Some of these names have already gotten attention:Charlie Rangel, John Murtha, Marcy Kaptur, Pete Visclosky, Maxine Waters, Norm Dicks, Jo Bonner, and Zoe Lofgren. The large majority of these congressmen seem to be Democrats. Will this create a discussion in the media about the Democrats' ethic problems?

A leaked document shows that House ethics investigators are probing the activities of nearly three dozen lawmakers — an ethical dust storm that will empower the Republicans and could imperil efforts to get health care reform through the House next week.

The House Ethics Committee said Thursday that it was opening two new investigations — one into the foreclosure scandal of Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) and one involving financial questions about Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and her husband.

But shortly after the committee met, chairs Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) interrupted proceedings on the House floor to say that an internal document on secret committee proceedings had been leaked to the Washington Post — and that it would name the names of many other members who had drawn the attention of either the committee or the Office of Congressional Ethics.

According to the Post, the document identifies more than 30 House members.

Much of the investigative interest swirls around lawmakers' relationship with the PMA Group, a now-defunct lobbying firm that pumped campaign contributions to members and obtained earmarks for its defense clients.

Democratic Reps. Jack Murtha (D-Pa.) and Peter Visclosky (Ind.) had been implicated in the PMA case previously, but the leaked document showed that investigators are also interested in Reps. James Moran Jr. (D-Va.), Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Bill Young (R-Fla.) and Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), according to the Post.

The Department of Justice is also looking into allegations that Paul Magliocchetti, a former Appropriations Committee staffer and founder of PMA, used “straw men” donors to improperly funnel campaign to Murtha and the other Appropriations Committee members.

Visclosky and his former chief of staff, Charles Brimmer, have been served with subpoenas in the FBI's criminal probe into PMA’s activities, and FBI agents raided a Pennsylvania defense contractor with close ties to Murtha earlier this year.

In addition, the ethics committee document said the panel had attempted to look into the case of Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) but had been asked to back off by the Justice Department, the Post reported. Mollohan attracted DOJ attention in 2006 for steering tens of millions of dollars in earmarks to political allies and campaign contributors, including a former aide involved in the lawmaker’s lucrative real-estate investments. While Mollohan has never been charged with any wrongdoing, he stepped down from his post as ranking member of the ethics committee. . . .

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