Thursday, September 13, 2007

Charity Begins at Home

It isn't surprising to find out that John Murtha has found some creative ways of avoiding FEC regulations. It isn't even surprising that he's tried establishing a slush fund for his campaigns using his defense contractor cronies. While these things aren't surprising, they are disgusting. Thanks to the bloggers at Redstate, we now know about the slush fund known as PAID (Pennsylvania Association for Individuals with Disabilities). Here's what's happening:
GuideStar, an organization that tracks charitable organizations, reported the group’s accomplishments were "construct(ing) a new Website to accommodate diverse client needs in conducting a search for employment," and "recruit(ing) new employer partners committed to interviewing and hiring individuals with disabilities."

But neither PAID, GuideStar, nor any other organization tracking charitable organizations has reported on what appears to be major part of PAID’s mission: voter registration.

As a tax-exempt charitable organization, PAID is required to file an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 990, "which provides the public with financial information about a given organization, and is often the only source of such information. It is also used by government agencies to prevent organizations from abusing their tax-exempt status."

PAID’s tax documents report the organization spent a total of $600,138 between 2003 and 2005 for "training and securing employment for disabled individuals," as well as "assisting disabled individuals with voter registration."
It isn't surprising to find out that that's just the tip of a very big iceberg:
According to a report in Roll Call earlier this week, PAID has had questionable success as a job training and placement organization. Disability advocates in Pennsylvania told the paper they had never heard of PAID.

"Since its creation, PAID claims to have helped 237 people with disabilities obtain permanent jobs," they reported. "But the organization has never been mentioned in a local newspaper and it does not appear to have ever been awarded any of the myriad citations given by agencies that employ people with disabilities."
In other words, it's useless in doing what it reportedly is supposed to do. It isn't a stretch to think that this is essentially a shell company used to funnel defense contractors' money into voter registration drives in John Murtha's district. This is at least as sleazy as Murtha's Abscam folly. Here's how it works:
An invitation obtained by reports that the 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."
In other words, a 'charity' funded by John Murtha's defense contractor cronies pays for regularly scheduled voter registration drives in John Murtha's district. What's worse is that, because the money is going into a 'charity', that 'charity' doesn't have to report who's giving how much to the charity. Here's some more PAID funny business:
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.
It's time to shut PAID down. It's time the people of PA-12 dumped this serial ethics violator. There's a reason why even Soros-funded CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) put him on their list. It's because it's difficult to find proof that there's even a single ethical bone in Rep. Murtha's body.

Frankly, this reeks of the type of cronyism that Dan Rostenkowski built up during the time he chaired the House Ways and Means Committee. Rostenkowski didn't even bother hiding it. In fact, he bragged about his golf trips with lobbyists, possibly because he thought of those trips as a status symbol. The only difference I see between Murtha's 'charity' golf tournament and Rostenkowski's lobbyist-paid golf trips is that Murtha is attempting to hide his involvement in this unethical game.

I strongly recommend you read both of MajorityAP's reports on Murtha's latest scandal.