Stop their pay, send them home 

Here’s how the Democrats "drained the swamp" and ended the Republicans’ "culture of corruption" on Capitol Hill: Roll Call recently reported that three top Democrats on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee got more than $100 million in earmarks for clients of the PMA Group, a Virginia-based lobbying shop run by their former chiefs of staff.

The earmark recipients coincidentally [we are supposed to believe] donated $542,350 during the first half of this year to the ethically challenged trio — Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Rep. Peter Visclosky, D-Ind. This cozy arrangement is apparently OK under the House’s new ethics rules. "Unless you can demonstrate a quid pro quo, it’s hard to prove campaign contributions were made to yield an earmark," Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, told The Examiner.

Ellis says the only reason former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Escondido, was convicted on bribery charges was because "he was dumb enough to write it down."

Still, it’s hard to believe anything good about these slimy deals. Bloomberg.com reports that Visclosky sponsored a $2 million defense earmark for the Samueli Institute for Information Biology, founded by California billionaire Henry Samueli and his wife, Susan, who are among the Indiana Democrat’s top donors. But the foundation — which studies "alternative medicine" such as yoga, the medicinal use of magnets and using homeopathy to fight bioterrorism — is not in Indiana. Its headquarters are in Moran’s district. But Moran, Murtha’s point man in his unsuccessful run for House Majority Leader, also sought a $1 million earmark for the Samueli Institute in the 2008 defense appropriations bill. This was after Moran pocketed $20,000 in donations from Samueli family members. Guess who lobbies for the Institute? The PMA Group, of course.

Republicans, who took the art of earmarking to new heights when they controlled Congress, have no credibility on this issue. Some are even moaning that they don’t get enough pork to pass around.

Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., inadvertently let the cat out of the bag, Ellis said, when he complained that the Democrats were not honoring the "60/40 split" — an unwritten agreement that the majority party gets 60 percent of all earmark plunder. Wamp’s slip was the first time this dirty little secret, so carefully hidden from voters, has ever been mentioned in public.

Regardless of which party gets the bigger percentage, it’s clear now that the Capitol Hill swamp is as fetid under the Democrats as it was before under the GOP.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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