Ethics Panels Inexplicably Raising Questions About Norm Dicks' Earmarks for Contributors

For Norm, it really is a world of green.
When they outlaw handing out no-bid contracts to campaign contributors, only outlaws will get re-elected to Congress. But that prospect doesn't seem to be stopping a pair of Congressional ethics committees from raising questions about the relationship between defunct D.C. lobbying firm PMA and several members of the House favor factory known as the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

According to a story today in the Washington Post--whose reporters happened to find a confidential House document on a file-sharing network--our own master of pork procurement, Rep. Norm Dicks, is among those being looked at by the House Ethics Committee and the Office of Congressional Ethics.

PMA was founded by a former aide to the subcommittee, and the firm's mastery of the quid pro quo was apparently excessive even by D.C. standards. They also were seemingly quite creative in exceeding contribution limits by assigning donations to extended family members and various sommeliers and golf-course employees for reporting purposes. The FBI raided the group's offices a year ago. Now, according to the Post, investigators are looking at whether Congressional representatives accepted contributions "or other items of value" from PMA "in exchange for an official act."

As the Seattle Times reported earlier this year, Dicks was the fourth-biggest recipient of PMA money in all of Congress, and had "pushed for nine earmarks worth $20 million for PMA clients."

The chair of the House ethics committee told the Post "No inference to any misconduct" can be made from the mere fact that the investigation is occurring. And we agree. Though that inference can probably be safely made from the mere fact of serving on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

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