Murtha’s earmark recipients: How hands off (or on) is he?


Paul Singer reports in Roll Call on a tangled story that apparently involves the undisclosed hand of Rep. John Murtha but certainly involves his brother Kit (a retired lobbyist) and his former lobbying firm, five different companies doing business, directly or indirectly, with Defense (including one under federal indictment and one that allegedly wanted to outsource earmarked defense work to “China or someplace”), an earmark from the pre-disclosure era, some technical corrections added to the Tsunami relief bill that moved the funds for that earmark from one recipient to another (because the original recipient allegedly wanted to do the work in “China or someplace” rather than in Murtha’s district), about $8.2 million of taxpayer money, and a whole lot of digging. Oh, and PMA Group makes a cameo appearance. Read the whole thing, but also consider this:

When reporters asked Murtha about Kuchera Systems, a company in Murtha’s district for whom Murtha has earmarked defense funds and which has now been temporarily suspended by the Navy from contracting due to “allegations of fraud,” the appropriator responded: “What’s that got to do with me? What do you think, I’m supposed to oversee these companies? That’s not my job. That’s the Defense Department’s job.” Compare that to what Singer found:

Murtha had secured several earmarks for the company in previous years, and in 2001, he announced that AEPTEC would be an initial supporter of a nonprofit Murtha was creating called the Pennsylvania Association for Individuals With Disabilities.

But something went awry in Murtha’s relationship with AEPTEC.

Murtha spokesman Matt Mazonkey said “the only recollection we have is that there was an import/export issue that had involved AEPTEC, and when this was brought to light, they disappeared as a company.”

At the time, Murtha was the ranking member on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, which he now chairs.

AEPTEC never moved into the new building, instead holing up with a handful of staff at an existing office park down the road. …

… Kit Murtha told Roll Call that his memory of AEPTEC is fuzzy, but “I did know that there was some kind of thing happening about work going out of the country rather than staying here. It seems to me that somehow, some way they were taking money and then … they were taking the work to China or someplace.”

Kit Murtha said, “I can’t speak for Jack, and I can’t speak for anybody else, but that certainly would have pissed Jack off.”