From the Friday the 13th Gary post-Tribune:
Visclosky defends role with lobbyist PMA Group
U.S. Rep. Peter Visclosky said Thursday he was disappointed to learn of last fall’s FBI raid at the offices of The PMA Group, his top campaign contributor, but no one has suggested that agents will be knocking on his door next. “I don’t deal with people who do not deal with me in an honorable and honest fashion,” Visclosky, D-Merrillville, said.
Donors with ties to The PMA Group have given $196,950 to Visclosky during his career, more than any other firm, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Now, national news agencies are reporting that The PMA Group’s offices in Virginia were raided by federal investigators in November.
Visclosky said he has known Paul Magliocchetti, PMA’s founder, for years and the two maintained a “good and professional” relationship. Magliocchetti is a former aide to Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who sits on the House Appropriations Committee with Visclosky.
Later, as Visclosky’s seniority and influence grew, firms like The PMA Group, which represents defense firms, sought him out to lobby on their clients’ behalf. In 2004, Magliocchetti’s firm became Visclosky’s top donor, and it has topped that list every year since.
Not that there was ever any quid-pro-quo for thaose constriubtions. Heaven Forbid, no!
National news reports suggest prosecutors are especially interested in campaign contributions made by The PMA Group to congressmen who secured millions in congressional earmarks for its clients. A Post-Tribune analysis last year of Visclosky’s 2008 congressional earmark requests showed Visclosky secured more than $20 million in contracts for PMA clients, representing a quarter of the solo earmarks he obtained. Several PMA clients, including NuVant Systems, ProLogic Inc., Sierra Nevada and 21st Century Systems, became tenants at the Purdue Technology Center of Northwest Indiana. They were referred to the center by Visclosky, who also landed the federal cash that built it.
Only a quarter of the earmarks?
Another connection between Visclosky and PMA is Rich Kaelin, who served as Visclosky’s chief of staff for nine months in 2003 but later became a PMA lobbyist. Congressional ethics rules prohibited any contact between Kaelin and Visclosky’s staff for the first year after his departure. “I haven’t talked to Rich for some years,” Visclosky said.
No, no — I barely know these people. The fact that my former Chief of staff — whom I still refer to by his first name — sho was the man I most depended on for assistance as a legislator — is now working for them is entirely incidental.
When news of the raid broke, Visclosky promised through a spokesman to take “appropriate and responsible action, including returning contributions” if the federal investigation uncovers proof of wrongdoing.
Boy, I’d sure like to see Rep. Visclosky return $196,950.00. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?
It also means there’s hope for the 2010 election races. If something further comes up that a direct link can be demonstrated between Visclosky and PMA, it’s a wedge that can be used to unseat him from his iron grip on Northwest Indiana’s Congessional seat.
I don’t think we’ve seen the last of this story by a longshot. If nothing else, the Post-Tribune has been making inquiries.
Cross-Posted at Porter County Politics