Congress

House of Murtha

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Yesterday, Dave Weigel pointed out that the two top dogs in the hunt for the role of House Majority Leader are the underwhelming Reps. John Murtha (Pa.) and Steny Hoyer (Md.).

Presumptive Speaker o' the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has pushed the idea that the Dem-controlled Congress would be ethically cleaner than, well, Murtha's plate at a Golden Corral buffet, has put her backing behind the Pennsylvania vet. Who unfortunately has a pretty spotty record when it comes to charges of corruption. The Wash Post reports:

Some Democratic lawmakers and watchdog groups say they are baffled that Pelosi would go out of her way to back Murtha's candidacy after pledging to make the new 110th Congress the most ethical and corruption-free in history.

Murtha, a longtime senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, has battled accusations over the years that he has traded federal spending for campaign contributions, that he has abused his post as ranking party member on the Appropriations defense subcommittee, and that he has stood in the way of ethics investigations. Those charges come on top of Murtha's involvement 26 years ago in the FBI's Abscam bribery sting.

Abscam? Gee-zus, there's a trip down memory lame, what with FBI agents dressing up like Arab sheiks even less convincingly than John Saxon (born Carmine Orrico) would later do on Dynasty. The Murth was an "unindicted co-conspirator" in that laff-filled sting operation. Though as Conservative News Service points out–with nary an axe to grind, natch–that's not the only shady grove in the congressman's past.

Whole Post dispatch here. With the Dems stumbling out of the blocks (don't forget that the Jane Harman-Pelosi feud is likely promote impeached former judge Alcee Hastings to the top of House Intelligence Committee), it may well be glorious gridlock 'til '08.

NEXT: Another Victim of Dread Urine-Going Borat

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  1. First off, what the hell IS an unindicted co-conspirator, anyway? And second, Abscam seemed like entrapment, from the little I know. And as for…

    “he has traded federal spending for campaign contributions, that he has abused his post as ranking party member on the Appropriations defense subcommittee, and that he has stood in the way of ethics investigations.”

    Business as usual.

  2. Adam, he showed up to a sting where he was offered a bribe but refused it. Others in the room did not and he testified against them. This apparently makes him as filthy as Duke Cunningham.

  3. John Murtha is a big fan of the draft, as well. Fuck him.

  4. Hopefully, the bugetary rules the Dems put in place for the 110th Congress will be strong enough to keep a lid on such backsliding.

    Eliminating this sort of “business as usual” entirely is probably too much to hope for, but dialing back from the current 10 to a manageable 4 or 5 would be nice.

  5. First, geez Nick! If I decided to start pluggin’ restaurants maybe, who knows, with the prospects of a free meal or two, I think I’d shoot at least for Mortons. Or is there a connection between Murtha and Golden Corral of which I am unaware?

    Second, that’s the spirit, Joe! Why don’t you suggest that as the Dems campaign theme for ’08 — “Hey, we’re only stealing half as much as the other guys!”

  6. Hopefully, the bugetary rules the Dems put in place for the 110th Congress will be strong enough to keep a lid on such backsliding.

    This seems unrealistically optimistic. If Bush really is going to “work with” the Dems, that says to me he’s willing to spend yet more to try salvage something, anything, from the ruin he’s made. If Bush opens the checkbook, I don’t see the Dems holding back on principle, as they’ve already made it clear they regard the election as an affirmation of their agenda, rather than a repudiation of the GOP agenda.

  7. Grumman,

    We’ll see, although I’ll note that curtailing pork and cutting deficits were most certainly put forward as integral parts of the Democrats’ agenda throughout the campaign.

  8. The Democrats are not going dial things back. They have too many constituencies who have been out of power too long who want payback. The only hope tacks right and picks up his veto pen and tries to get back in good graces with his base by vetoing spending bills. If that happens of course, get ready for the media to give us a load of evil Bush throwing grandma out in the street to pay for tax cuts and the war. One positive thing that has come out of the last two years is that the media discovered the earmarking and sleaze that goes on in Congress. This is where a truly non-partisan media would be nice because they could actually put pressure on the Democrats to change things. Fat chance. I somehow doubt Congressional corruption and pork spending is going to be too high on the NYT or major news networks’ radar anytime soon.

  9. I have a question:

    If the Democrats hold spending growth to or below inflation + population growth over the next two years, and put almost all of the additional revenue from economic growth into deficit reduction, will that change anybody’s mind?

    I once wrote that, in response to being prodded on this board, that if the Iraq War worked, and created a stable democracy that inspired democratic reform throughout the Middle East, I would seriously revise my foreign policy beliefs, because such a thing would be an irrefutable rebuke to what I have held to be true. Obviously, I haven’t had to do that. Is anyone willing to make a similar statement in regards to the budgets produced by the incoming Democratic Congress?

  10. Joe,

    It depends. If the Democrats do that because Bush forced them to with vetos, then no. But if they actually do something about domestic spending besides doing the usual Democrat tack of cutting defense, but going after sacred cows like the agriculture and transportation budgets, then yes I will be convinced that they are no longer the tax and spend party.

  11. Well at least this is a victory for feminism. The girls can screw the pooch just as hard as the boys can.

  12. If the Democrats hold spending growth to or below inflation + population growth over the next two years, and put almost all of the additional revenue from economic growth into deficit reduction, will that change anybody’s mind?

    It won’t change my mind that, being politicians, they’re still weasels; but beyond that, sure, I care more about what elected officials actually do than what they promise or, for that matter, actually want to do.

  13. If the Democrats hold spending growth to or below inflation + population growth over the next two years

    Well, seeing as they just put national health care back on the table, that ain’t gonna happen.

  14. So, Murtha’s role in Abscam: FBI agents come to him in disguise as arab sheikhs, offer him a bribe to advocate their interests. He says no, and essentially tells them that if they want to translate money into congressional influence, what they should do instead is invest it in job-producing enterprises in his rust belt district.

    And, yeah, influence peddling and favoritism and pork and all that are bad, but they’re an accepted part of the representative-constituent dynamic, so I really can’t get very riled up about this. He was given an opportunity to take a bribe, declined, and instead used the opportunity to leverage his reputation for constituent service into investment in his district. Within the context of Congress, that’s pretty decent.

  15. Eh. Murtha’s gay.

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