The senior Democrat who recently stepped down from the Ethics Committee, Alan Mollohan (D-WV), is under scrutiny from the FBI in both West Virginia and Washington for possibly steering federal money to projects that financially benefitted him. Raw Story reports on a Wall Street Journal article that details the new direction of this probe:
Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV)bought a 300-acre farm with the head of a small defense contractor that had won a $2.1 million contract from funds that the congressman added to a 2005 spending bill last year. The joint purchase of the farm, which sits on the Cheat River in West Virginia, is the most direct tie yet disclosed between Rep. Mollohan and a beneficiary of the federal spending he has steered toward his home state. It raises new questions about possible conflicts of interest by Rep. Mollohan and his use of such spending.For future appropriating congressmen: Don't jointly purchase any property with recipients of your federal earmarks on Cheat River. Continue reading
Hotline Blog picks it up via Roll Call:
"Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), under fire from Repulicans and watchdog group over his personal financial dealings, will step aside, at least temporarily, as ranking member of the House ethics committee, according to Democratic insiders."Continue reading
- Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), under fire for possible connections between his skyrocketing finances and earmarked provisions, aimed to rebut the charges by detailing his finances in an interview with the Charleston Daily Mail.
- An energy industry lobbyist whose company Xcel Energy is facing an EPA lawsuit attended a controversial fundraiser in Colorado headlined by the current EPA chief administrator Stephen Johnson, according to the Denver Post.
- Soon to be retired Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) brought in $484,475 in campaign contirbutions between February 15th and March 31st which he can now convert over to his legal defense fund, according to the Houston Chronicle. Continue reading
- According to Florida Today, Florida Congressman Dave Weldon (R) said that "he had no idea that Edwin Buckham" had a stake in Map Roi when he wrote a $1.55 million earmark to Florida Tech, of which $500,000 went to Map Roi. The original Los Angeles Times story quoted a university newletter that pronounced, "U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon was instrumental in bringing Map Roi to Florida Tech."
- The Washington Post reports on a taxpayer funded junket that Senators Arlen Spector (R-PA) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) are on right now to visit "the actual birthplace of the matzoh ball." Okay, they're also talking about drug interdiction, guest worker plans, and global warming but it's Passover so I had to go with the matzoh ball angle.
Two Congressmen are taking political heat for allegedly unethical behavior:
- Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post's The Fix analyzes Alan Mollohan's (D-WV) response to allegations that he has seen his personal finances skyrocket over the past few years thanks to earmarks that he has provided to a business partner of his in North Carolina.
Mollohan has smartly sought to cast the complaint filed by the NLPC in partisan terms. "The NLPC has in the past targeted Democrats with charges that later proved to be without merit," Mollohan said in a statement released by his campaign. "Obviously I am in the crosshairs of the National Republican Party and like-minded entities, such as the NLPC." In a letter sent to Reynolds and Hastert, Mollohan wrote that calls for him to resign from the Ethics Committee reveal "the entirely partisan, political nature of the attack that has been made upon me, and the reason this attack has been made." He added: "The reason is...that I strongly opposed efforts by the Republican leadership that would have seriously undermined the ability of the Ethics Committee to perform its basic function of enforcing House rules and standards."
- Over in Western North Carolina Charles Taylor (R-NC) is being challenged over his connection in the Jack Abramoff scandal, according to the Ashville Citizen-Times.
Abramoff’s firm threw the congressman a fundraiser on April 11, 2003, that scored thousands of dollars in donations for his campaign. That included a $2,000 contribution from Abramoff and $1,000 from the Saginaw Chippewa tribe, which wanted federal money for school construction.
A month later, he and a U.S. senator wrote a letter challenging the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ resistance that the Saginaw shouldn’t quality for the federal money, The Associated Press said in a report Tuesday.The tribe donated $3,000 more to Taylor a month after the letter.
According to CongressDaily PM, Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) is calling on Minority Leader Pelosi (D-CA) to remove the ranking Democrat Alan Mollohan from the Ethics Committee after a Wall Street Journal article stated that he is currently under investigation in a possible earmarking scandal.Continue reading
The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that the Justice Department has commenced a probe of Alan Mollohan (D-WV), the ranking Democrat on the House Ethics Committee, for his use of earmarking projects for nonprofits in his district:
A 12-term congressman, Mr. Mollohan sits on the House Appropriations Committee, a panel that disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff dubbed the "favor factory." Working with fellow West Virginian Sen. Robert Byrd, Mr. Mollohan has steered at least $178 million to nonprofit groups in his district over the past five years using "earmarks" -- special-interest provisions that are slipped into spending bills to direct money to pet projects.
The money has brought more than jobs and building projects to his district. It has formed and financed a tight-knit network of nonprofit institutions in West Virginia that are run by people who contribute regularly to Mr. Mollohan's campaigns, political-action committee and a family foundation. One of these people also invests in real estate alongside Mr. Mollohan and his wife. The network of contributors also includes private companies that get contracts through these nonprofits.
Central to the Mollohan network is a former staffer, Laura Kuhns, who heads the nonprofit Vandalia Heritage Foundation. It is a historic-preservation group that is financed almost exclusively by earmarks backed by Mr. Mollohan. It paid her $102,000 in 2004. Vandalia is coordinating construction of the new building for the Institute for Scientific Research, or ISR, and Ms. Kuhns sits on its board and those of three other nonprofits that get funds via earmarks.
She and her husband also are partners with Mr. Mollohan and his wife in five properties in Bald Head Island, N.C., valued in local real-estate records at a total of $2 million. The Mollohans recently bought a $1.45 million oceanfront home on the island, called the Peppervine House, which they rent out for $8,555 a week, next to the Kuhns' house, known as Cape Fearless. These and other investments, including a stake in a nine-story luxury condominium complex in Washington, appear to have made the Mollohans wealthy.
Mollohan has not been accused of wrong doing but “[s]uch a pattern raises questions about whether the donations or deals might be a way beneficiaries of earmarks could influence the legislator's actions.”Continue reading