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Lobbyist to plead guilty, may provide information on lawmakers, despite ethics committee exoneration

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In case you needed a dose of the absurd for your Monday take a look at the case of ex-lobbyist Paul Magliocchetti.

On Friday an announcement was made that Magliocchetti, the former head of the now-defunct PMA Group, would plead guilty later this month on charges that he organized the widespread fraudulent donation of campaign contributions to members of the House Appropriations Committee. The PMA Group was an earmark powerhouse, backed by Magliocchetti's long ties to his former boss the now-deceased former appropriator John Murtha.

A coterie of lawmakers on the appropriations committee were lavished with campaign contributions from PMA Group lobbyists and clients, as well as the fraudulent contributions organized by Magliocchetti. These lawmakers also provided a number of earmarks to the clients of the PMA Group. The lawmakers tied closest to the PMA Group's earmark lobbying include, but are not limited to, Murtha, Pete Visclosky, Jim Moran and Bill Young.

Earlier this year the House Ethics Committee dismissed ethics complaints against members of the appropriations committee stating that no member or staffer had acted inappropriately in awarding earmarks to campaign contributors. The independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) seemed to signal their disagreement with the ethics committee when they sent the details of their investigation to the Department of Justice for further action.

Now we have the lead lobbyist in the conspiracy to funnel campaign contributions to appropriations committee members pleading guilty and possibly providing information to the Department of Justice. Politico reports, "there is specualtion that [Magliocchetti] may assist prosecutors looking into how lawmakers awarded hundreds of millions in spending earmarks to defense contractors."

A lobbyist will plead guilty to, essentially, bribing a number of lawmakers to win contracts for his clients. He may then turn around and provide information to the Department of Justice on how he traded contributions for earmarks, despite the ethics committee in Congress having already exonerated the lawmakers of all ethics charges in relation to the investigation.

And so the mind-boggling self-policing by Congress continues.