The Charleston Daily Mail is reporting that "two dozen organizations in northcentral West Virginia with ties to Rep. Alan Mollohan reportedly have been subpoenaed, and one nonprofit has reportedly shipped 160 cartons of documents to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia." A source states that "between 25 and 30 organizations in north central West Virginia who have received subpoenas that are extremely broad." The head of two organizations, the Institute for Scientific Research and the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation, states that "the complaint filed by the NLPC is nothing more than a witch hunt" and that he intends "to provide anything and everything I can to [prosecutors] to demonstrate" that his organizations are innocent of any violations.Continue reading
The investigation into Rep. Alan Mollohan's (D-WV) personal finances has taken a new turn with the introduction of Mollohan's bankrupt distant cousin Joe Jarvis and his son, Skeeter. The New York Times reports on Mollohan's relationship with the scam man Jarvis:
The relative, Joseph L. Jarvis Jr., faced $1 million debts in a personal bankruptcy case when he partnered with Mr. Mollohan in 1996, a few years after his aerospace company failed to fulfill its federal contracts and also filed for bankruptcy. The 1995 West Virginia deal in Mr. Mollohan's district eventually soured too, and Mr. Jarvis walked away owing Mr. Mollohan's nonprofit group $67,681.63 in rent. Still, Mr. Jarvis, Mr. Mollohan and their wives enjoyed a lucrative real estate partnership managing condominium rentals at the Remington, a 52-unit building that bills itself as "Washington's best kept secret." The couples own 27 Remington condos, which have more than tripled in value, to $8 million, over the decade.There is no evidence to show that Mollohan in any way helped Jarvis obtain federal funds for his many (failed) projects. But that didn't keep Jarvis from constantly talking up his relationship with the high ranking Democrat. Jarvis seems like your average scammer who happened to have relatives in powerful positions allowing him to be a much more successful scammer than he probably was destined to be. Scandals need these characters, like the lifeguard who lived in the Delaware beach house owned by Michael Scanlon that was supposed to be a think tank or the owner of Shirlington Limousine, who is alleged to have ferried prostitutes to Duke Cunningham in the Watergate. No good politician is without his or her wacky relative - a Roger Clinton or a Neil Bush. Jarvis is no different. Continue reading
Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), under fire for writing earmarks to non-profits that he founded while his personal finances skyrocketed, plans on admitting, as early as today, "that he misstated some transactions in his congressional filings". According to the Washington Post Mollohan plans to explain how his personal wealth grew so fast while also admitting that he misstated a number of items in his personal financial disclosure forms. The Post also gives a good explanation of the history of Mollohan's string of non-profits which he created to diversify the West Virginia economy.Continue reading
A page one story by Jeffrey Birnbaum in Monday’s Washington Post recounts the growing ethical cloud surrounding West Virginia Democratic congressman Alan Mollohan, now under investigation by federal authorities looking into federal money he funneled to agencies – and some business partners – in his congressional district.
To boost jobs in his district, Mollohan established a network of nonprofit organizations and helped deliver federal funds to them, often through earmarked appropriations. At the same time, he invested as a partner in real estate deals with the head of one of those agencies and with the owner of a company that’s received “substantial federal aid.” Those investments have proved lucrative indeed.Continue reading
- Roll Call reports that the House Republican caucus remains "noncommital" on whether to push Bob Ney (R-OH) to resign if he is indicted on charges related to the Jack Abramoff bribery case. Just two days ago Ney's former chief of staff Neil Volz pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery among other charges.
- While House Republicans are weighing their options with Ney they are urging Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to pull Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) from the Appropriations Committee. Mollohan has been under fire for his earmarking of money to campaign contributors and nonprofits that he formed. He recently stepped down from his position as ranking member of the House Ethics Committee due to these allegations.
- USA Today reports that the ethics troubles of Democrats, including Rep. Mollohan, are having a dulling effect on the party's attempt to tar the Republicans as a party with a "culture of corruption." Other Democratic ethics woes include the advancing bribery probe of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) and rehashed allegations against Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) for using his staffers as babysitters and tutors.
- Nico at Think Progress writes about the importance of "Nine Fingers". For those who haven't been following the Cunningham/Wilkes/Prostitution scandal as close as others "Nine Fingers" is a CIA agent who attended the infamous poker parties that Wilkes threw at the Watergate and Westin hotels. These poker games are alleged to have turned into hooker parties.
- Also at Think Progress, Judd writes that Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) inserted a provision into a Defense Appropriations bill that was written by the vaccine industry. The provision "granted vaccine manufactures near-total immunity for injuries or deaths (even in cases of “gross negligence”) caused by their drugs during a viral pandemic, such as an outbreak of the avian flu." The vaccine industry's lobbyist was none other than Hastert's son, Joshua Hastert.
- Raw Story picks up a Roll Call story that shows more trouble for Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV). Taking trips to Spain paid for by non-profits that you created and then funnelled millions of dollars in federal earmarks to while receiving campaign contributions from the directors of said non-profits is bound to raise some eyebrows.
My colleague Bill Allison came up with a new lede for the Washington Post story today on Alan Mollohan's (D-WV) defense of his securing earmarks for campaign contributors:
The former ranking minority member of the House Ethics Committee said he saw nothing wrong with using his position on the appropriations committee to secure federal funding for the organizations and companies of friends, former staffers, and his own real estate partners.Apparently, Mollohan thinks that there is no reason that anybody should question him for investing with his campaign contributors who have received million dollar earmarks from him. Nothing to see here! Continue reading
The former ranking minority member of the House Ethics Committee said he saw nothing wrong with using his position on the appropriations committee to secure federal funding for the organizations and companies of friends, former staffers, and his own real estate partner.Well, glad he cleared that up for us! Continue reading
- Ken Silverstein has a must-read post on earmarks at Harpers.org. Here's a slice of the action:
Consider here the tangled tale of Representative Pete Visclosky, an Indiana Democrat and a powerhouse on the House defense appropriations subcommittee, and a Washington lobby shop called The PMA Group. In November 2004, Visclosky secured a $900,000 earmark—the final tranche of $6.9 million in federal funding he won—to build the Purdue Technology Center, a high-tech “business incubator” in Merrillville, Indiana. Two months later, Visclosky participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the inauguration of the center. Visclosky also took credit for recruiting four of the center's seven charter firms, 21st Century Systems of Virginia, ProLogic of West Virginia, ACT-I of Texas, and Sierra Nevada of Nevada. But on closer inspection, Visclosky's actions are less like “recruiting” and more like “quid pro quo.” According to campaign finance records, all four of those firms have donated generously to Visclosky in the past, with ProLogic giving $19,000 to Visclosky since last year—making it the leading donor for his current reelection campaign. Sierra Nevada, ACT-I and, 21st Century are each on the list of the top-20 donors.
- Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit provides a Porkbusters Update. Reynolds quotes a report that indicates that Senators Bill Frist (R-TN), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) have put together "34 Senate signatures on a letter backing the veto threat the President laid out yesterday on the groaning Senate supplemental."
- Tim Shoop at Govexec's FedBlog writes about all those lawmakers justifying the earmarking practice. His take on it: "That's right folks. Hundreds of congressmen jockeying and horse-trading for approval of their pet projects is better than experienced professionals--accountable to their politically appointed overseers--making rational decisions about how to most effectively distribute appropriated dollars."
- The New York Times picks up the story of Alan Mollohan's (D-WV) farm on Cheat River. Mollohan "acknowledged yesterday that he had on several occasions steered earmarks to federal agencies to finance contracts with his friend's company, FMW Composite Systems. ... But Mr. Mollohan said that he was not FMW's only 'Congressional sponsor' and that he saw no conflict of interest between his personal real estate purchase and the company's federal contracts." Congressmen, act now, and sponsor a campaign donor today.
- Tom DeLay's (R-TX) former chief of staff and now powerful Republican lobbyist Susan Hirshmann is profiled in the Legal Times.
- We have another editorial bashing the House's attempt at lobbying and ethics "reform", this time from the New York Times.
"The proposal is a cadaverous pretense that Congress has learned the corrupting lessons of Jack Abramoff, the disgraced superlobbyist; Representative Tom DeLay, the fallen majority leader; and Duke Cunningham, the imprisoned former congressman. It makes a laughingstock of the pious promises of last January to ban privately financed junketeering by lawmakers. Instead, these adventures in quid pro quo lawmaking would be suspended only temporarily, safe to blossom again after the next election."
- And if you thought those gas prices were going to go down I hope you have a few million dollars to lobby Congress. The Hill reports that the oil and gas industry are preparing to throw $30 million into a "grassroots" campaign to lobby Congress and improve their image among the American people.