This morning's Washington Post reports (based on an earlier Wall Street Journal article that I don't have access to) that federal investigators are looking into the finances of Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-W.Va.), the Ranking Minority Member on the House Ethics Committee:
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that federal prosecutors have opened an investigation of Mollohan's personal financial disclosures. The article also raised questions about earmarks -- or special provisions included in federal spending bills -- that he has steered to nonprofits in West Virginia in the past five years. Mollohan, a member of both the ethics and appropriations committees, has not been accused of any wrongdoing. He acknowledged in an interview making real estate investments with the head of a nonprofit company that received federal money from earmarks Mollohan backed. But, he contended, he is fully "at risk" in the investments and received no special favors in either financing or locating the investments.You can look up Mollohan's financial disclosures here; the issue is the rapidity with which Mollohan's net worth increased. The Post reports on a press release from the National Legal and Policy Center
"Mollohan's 2000 Financial Disclosure Report listed his income-producing assets as being worth from $179,012 to $562,000 with liabilities of $170,000 to $465,000. . . . Just four years later, Mollohan's 2004 Financial Disclosure Report showed him with assets worth $6,313,025 to $24,947,000 offset by liabilities in the $3,665,011 to $13,500,000 range. It also showed him owning an oceanfront beach house on Bald Head Island, NC which was valued at $1,000,000 to $5,000,000."Continue reading
Citizen's Against Government Waste unveiled its 2006 "Pig Book" of earmarked projects. The highlight is probably the $13.5 million earmarked for the International Fund for Ireland which includes a World Toilet Summit.
Go to their website to check it out.Continue reading
A number of religious groups and nonprofits are fighting a proposed ban on members of Congress accepting privately financed travel, arguing that their “activities are far different from the golfing and exotic foreign junkets that have been the centerpiece of recent lobbying scandals.” According to The Hill newspaper, the groups leading the fight are the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has raised the possibility of modifying the Democratic proposals after “discussions on things like the Faith and Politics trip to Selma and Montgomery or the Aspen Institute or other like institutions.”Continue reading
In 2003 Richard Pombo (R-CA) rented an RV and, with his family, went on a tour of tour of national parks that cost taxpayers $4,935, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Pombo claims that the trip was an official business trip because, as House Resources Chairman, he oversees all national parks. Pombo insists that there was no additional charge for him taking his family with him. House rules prohibit using government funds for personal travel, but allow family members to accompany congressmen on official trips. Undermining his defense, Pombo wrote about the trip on his committee’s website: “This August, my family and I rented an RV and set out to explore the West. We spent two weeks on vacation, stopping along the way to enjoy the splendor of many of our national parks.”Continue reading
The Houston Chronicle reports that former Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s (R-TX) defense fund is in the red, owing more money to lawyers than it took in last year. The defense fund reeled in $590,520 in 2005 but he ran up over $1 million in legal fees for the year. Support for DeLay may be dwindling on Capitol Hill considering that only 31 lawmakers contributed to his defense fund, down from 44 contributors in 2004.Continue reading