NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 14, 2008

Rep. John Murtha (D-Penn.) led all House members this year in earmarks, securing $162 million in district favors, according to the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

But his delivering hundreds of millions of dollars in largesse to district beneficiaries is nothing new, says the New York Times:

  • In 1991, Murtha used a $5 million earmark to create the National Defense Center for Environmental Excellence in Johnstown to develop anti-pollution technology for the military.
  • Since then, it has garnered more than $670 million in contracts and earmarks.
  • Meanwhile it is managed by another contractor Murtha helped create, Concurrent Technologies, a research operation that somehow was allowed to be set up as a tax-exempt charity, according to The Washington Post.
  • Thanks to Murtha, Concurrent has boomed; the annual salary for its top three executives averages $462,000.

There's been no report of Murtha's profiting personally, says the Times.  But the Murtha operation -- which has become a model for other entrepreneurial lawmakers -- is a gross example of quid pro quo Washington.  Every one of the 26 beneficiaries of Murtha's earmarks in last year's defense budget made contributions to his campaign, a total of $413,250, according to the newspaper Roll Call.

The Pentagon, seeking its own goodies before Murtha's defense appropriations committee, is noticeably hesitant to challenge his projects.  And we're not hearing a lot of objections from his colleagues -- not after members have ladled out a fresh $15 billion for their own special interests, just in time for the coming elections, says the Times.

Source: Editorial, "The Pork King Keeps His Crown," New York Times, January 14, 2008.

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