Commentary Magazine


The Three Most Important Initials for 2010: “P-M-A”

Slowly but surely, a big, messy, ugly scandal is creeping up on Congress. It may make the Abramoff scandal look inconsequential by comparison.

Even the New York Times is waking up:

Federal law enforcement officials who raided the lobbyist Paul Magliocchetti’s PMA Group appear to be examining the firm’s relationship with Representative Peter J. Visclosky, a low-profile lawmaker with big influence over federal spending, people familiar with the matter said this week.

Soon he may not be so low-profile. And as we “follow the money,” the most important question for the 2010 congressional election may be: Did he or she take PMA money?

Indeed it may already be spelling trouble for for Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, who is contemplating a primary challenge to Kirsten Gillibrand:

McCarthy’s top contributor this cycle is the now-defunct PMA Group. In the current election cycle, McCarthy has received $23,500 either directly from the PMA Group or from its employees. . .That’s roughly double the next highest donor. Over the course of her career, McCarthy has received $43,200 from the PMA Group.

Oh, and McCarthy voted against an ethics investigation into the relationship between congressmen and the PMA Group. PMA’s money was well spent: she secured $1M in earmarks for PMA’s clients.

A cursory look at this handy and shocking inventory of the PMA earmarks and the corresponding campaign contributions (which no doubt greased the skids for the PMA largess) gives one a sense of how widespread the scandal may be. So Democrats might begin to think twice about blocking inquiry into the ties between PMA and Congress members. Running interference for the likes of Jack Murtha and James Moran may prove injurious to one’s political health.