Friday, August 07, 2009

At the Bidding of the Queen...and other friends in low places...

John Murtha bows...

Relations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and the Department of Defense grew testy last year when the Pentagon couldn't come up with the aircraft she wanted for congressional travel. But this year the House has a $132 million solution: buy the Air Force more executive jets so Congress can take more junkets.

Roll Call newspaper reports the addition of two unasked-for new Gulfstream 550 jets to the executive aircraft stable at nearby Andrews Air Force Base. It is not even considered an earmark under the rules of the House, just an "expansion" of an existing Air Force mission.

But it isn't hard to trace the influence of House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Murtha, D-Pa. When Ms. Pelosi's demands first surfaced in 2007, Mr. Murtha said the Pentagon was making a "mistake" by being uncooperative.

With Rep. Murtha leaning hard on the Pentagon from his position of control over defense spending, the legislative demands got quite aggressive last year. Judicial Watch, a non-profit watchdog group, earlier this year published an e-mail in which a Pelosi staffer complained, "It is my understanding there are no G5s available for the House during the Memorial Day recess. This is totally unacceptable. ... The speaker will want to know where the planes are."

Of course, the high-flying Madame Speaker of the Universe notwithstanding, having never met an earmark he didn't like, Murtha, as usual, was again quick to reward his campaign contributors:
Murtha got 15 earmarks, worth $61.4 million, for companies whose employees or related political action committees (PACs) donated $199,050 to his campaign or leadership committee since 2007. All have offices, and jobs, in Pennsylvania. This is business as usual for Murtha. Federal prosecutors are investigating a defunct lobbying firm, PMA Group, whose defense clients have contributed heavily to Murtha and remain immensely successful at getting earmarks.
My, Jihad Jack, but what a tangled web we weave, when power through corruption is your plan to achieve.