Sen. Tom Coburn would like to do away with all earmarks; this evening the Senate voted on an amendment he proposed that would eliminate, from the Omnibus Appropriations bill, earmarks for 14 clients of the soon-to-be-defunct lobbying shop, the PMA Group. The purpose of the amendment read as follows:
To prohibit taxpayer dollars from being earmarked to 14 clients of a lobbying firm under Federal investigation for making campaign donations in exchange for political favors for the group’s clients.
Like previous measures aimed at PMA Group, this one failed, 52-43. In essence, the House is on record as finding nothing about PMA Group’s activities that merits curiosity, while the Senate says just write the checks already.
Update: Instapundit has much more on the “The Best Congress Money Can Buy.” In fairness to Congress, it’s only a fraction — a mere 100 House members who’ve done PMA Group’s bidding. Give PMA Group some credit too — they weren’t indiscriminate consumers; they and their clients concentrated their largesse on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.
I’ve told a few people that while the PMA Group scandal is different from Abramoff, in many ways it’s more serious. Abramoff was a sort of Bernard Madoff character, unique in his personal excesses, corrosively corrupting, but still just one guy. PMA Group is a methodical business predicated on the notion that for a few hundred thousands of dollars of campaign contributions, it could rake in millions in lobbying fees while its clients got hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks and billions more in federal contracts. Abramoff’s excesses were fairly unique; PMA Group’s business model is standard operating procedure in Washington.