In 2008, the PMA Group was hired by forty clients as their lone lobbying firm. These clients, largely seeking earmarks, secured a huge return on their investment in the PMA Group. After paying the PMA Group a combined $4.065 million in lobbying expenses, these forty organizations, a mix of companies and nonprofits, received $113.9 million in earmarks in 2008 — a 2,703% return on investment.
Since falling under investigation for the alleged improper use of campaign contributions and possible favor trading in Congress, the PMA Group disbanded, leaving many of their lobbyists to flee for other top firms or create their own new firms. These lobbyists should come as prized possessions to any new lobbying firm as evidenced by the amount of money they can bring to a firm seeking earmarks.
The Windber Research Institute, performing research studies on women’s breast cancer, received the largest return on investment, 59,900%. After paying the PMA Group $20,000 for the year, the military research hospital received a $12 million earmark from Rep. John Murtha. The Winder Research Institute, located in Rep. Murtha’s district, has for years relied on federal funding through federal grants and the earmarking process to continue its research missions. According to an earlier report by my colleague Anupama Narayanswamy, Rep. Murtha earmarked $15 million in the previous year and his support was promoted by the Institure on their Web site.
Many of the other PMA Group clients receiving a large return on investment include recipients of earmarks from the three lawmakers believed to be under the most scrutiny in the PMA investigation, Reps. Murtha, Pete Visclosky, and James Moran. Of the clients in the top ten on return on investment, five of them received earmarks from Rep. Murtha, three received earmarks from Rep. Visclosky, and one received an earmark from Rep. Moran.
In the search for earmarks, lobbying expenses must be considered the principal investment for firms seeking funds. As one can see in the chart below — listing the top ten returns on investment for PMA Group clients — small lobbying expenses consistently translated into much larger returns. For the full forty clients that only retained PMA Group lobbyists, none received lower than a 525% return on investment.
|Client||Lobbying Expenses||Total $ in Earmarks||ROI||Sponsoring Lawmaker|
|Windber Research Institute||$20,000||$12,000,000||59,900%||Murtha, John|
|Information Systems Laboratories||$10,000||$1,600,000||15,900%||Hunter, Duncan|
|Maine Marine Manufacturing||$15,000||$1,800,000||11,900%||Allen, Tom; Collins, Susan; Snowe, Olympia; Michaud, Mike|
|Mts Technologies||$40,000||$4,200,000||10,400%||Murtha, John|
|Sa Photonics||$20,000||$2,000,000||9,900%||Pelosi, Nancy|
|Optimal Solutions & Technologies||$30,000||$1,600,000||5,233%||Visclosky, Pete|
|Concurrent Technologies Corp||$320,000||$14,600,000||4,463%||Dicks, Norm; Murtha, John; Bishop, Sanford; Young, Bill; Hobson, David|
|Prologic Inc||$240,000||$10,400,000||4,233%||Murtha, John; Baucus, Max; Tester, Jon; Visclosky, Pete; Moran, James; Doyle, Mike; Kingston, Jack|
|Advanced Concepts & Technologies Intl||$70,000||$3,000,000||4,185%||Visclosky, Pete; Edwards, Chet|
|Conemaugh Health Systems||$240,000||$9,600,000||3,900%||Murtha, John|