| home | Murtha
John P. Murtha, Jr.
Democrat, Pennsylvania (1973-present)
Update, July 10, 2009: New charges against a consulting firm tied to Murtha. A defense contractor, Richard Ianieri, president of Coherent Systems International, a firm closely tied to Murtha, has agreed to plead guilty to charges that he took $200,000 in bribes from a Coherent subcontractor. Now, federal prosecutors allege that he used one of Murtha's earmarks to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to other Murtha-linked companies for work that was never done or was not related to the project. Prosecutors allege that Coherent, which hired Murtha's brother as a lobbyist, helped to fraudulently pay out some of the $8.2 million earmark that Murtha arranged in 2005 for an Air Force battlefield communications system.
The Honorable John P. Murtha, Jr., one of the powerful old bulls of the Democratic party in the House of Representatives has been under continued fire in 2008 and 2009 for possible ethics violations.
The latest (June 2, 2009) difficulty for Murtha is that the FBI is investigation a little-known non-profit organization called Commonwealth Research Institute, which is located in Murtha's hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
Commonwealth is claiming a tax-exempt status, but it is a for-profit defense contractor. It's been nine years since Commonwealth got its tax-exempt status, but it hasn't published any government- backed research. But it's "classified" said a Commonwealth spokesman. In Spring 2008, Commonwealth was subpoenaed in a federal investigation into government contracts worth some $45 million.
Check out Murtha's earlier scrape with the Ethics Committee in 1981.
Commonwealth is owned by Concurrent Technologies, another Johnstown defense contractor, also registered as a charity. Concurrent, with the help of Murtha and The PMA Group (which is also under investigation by the FBI; see Visclosky) received a billion-dollars-plus in defense contracts and earmarks. Concurrent employees have given Murtha $95,000 in campaign contributions since 2002.
Murtha's response: "What do you think I'm supposed to oversee these companies? That's the Defense Department's job. It's not my job."
Sources: "FBI Eyes Charity Linked to Rep. Murtha," CBS News, June 2, 2009.