Democratic Rep. John Murtha led all House members in earmarks last year, procuring $162 million in “pork” for his congressional district.
Murtha — an outspoken critic of the Iraq war and powerful chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee — secured earmarks in the defense budget for 26 beneficiaries. Every one of them has contributed to his campaign, giving a total of $413,250, according to the newspaper Roll Call.
That is “a gross example of quid pro quo Washington,” the New York Times states in an editorial.
The Times cites one example of Murtha’s largesse. In 1991, he used a $5 million earmark to create the National Defense Center for Environmental Excellence in Johnstown, the largest city in his district. The company was set up to develop anti-pollution technology for the military.
Since then, it has received more than $670 million in contracts and earmarks. But an investigation by the Washington Post, found that little of the center's work has been widely used or deployed by the Defense Department.
The Center is managed by another contractor Murtha helped to create, Concurrent Technologies, a research firm that was allowed to be set up as a tax-exempt charity, according to the Post. Concurrent now has annual revenue of nearly $250 million, and the salaries of its top three executives average $462,000 a year.
The Times observes that Murtha’s “universe” is a “costly creation of interlocking contractors who continue to feed at the public trough despite reviews questioning their performance.”
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