Potential Murtha successor Norm Dicks knows the favor factory

The abrupt passing of Rep. John Murtha (D-Penn.) left many wondering who would replace the King of Pork as chair of the Defense Appropriations subcommitteebut anyone hoping his replacement might bring relief from a reputation for trading favors, rewarding campaign contributors and steering lucrative contracts to home districts would likely be disappointed by the pool of potential successors.  

Yesterday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer floated the name of Norm Dicks, whose home state of Washington houses Boeing Co., as the likely next chair. Boeing is the second-largest recipient of federal contracting money, at $22.3 billion in fiscal year 2009 (two-thirds of which was not competed for), and his largest campaign bankroller.

Second is the now-defunct PMA Group, the lobby shop specializing in procuring earmarks for its clients which infamously collapsed amidst an FBI investigation into its contributions to members of the subcommittee, with several of its former lobbyists founding the defense-centered Flagship Government Relations. (Read the Sunlight Foundations previous coverage of PMA here.)

Dicks doled out more earmark money than all but 9 of his colleagues in the House in fiscal year 2008, with 20 out of 80 earmarks going to organizations that had actively lobbied that yearmany employing PMAand much of the remainder going to local governments.  

In terms of industries, lobbyists have been Dicks largest contributorsonly 15 onetime House members, with Murtha topping the list, have received more from them in the last 21 years–followed by lawyers, defense aerospace and defense electronics, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.  Of the nearly one million dollars hes received from the defense industry and its employees in that timespan, nearly 90 percent has come directly from corporate political action committees. 

Defense contractors Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, SAIC Inc., Raytheon, and BAE Systems all rank among the top contributors of the man slated to wield enormous influence over Pentagon spending. 

Of Murthas passing, Dicks said in a statement Monday: The country has lost a real patriot; the Congress has lost a real workhorse; and I have lost a great friend.