The region’s outspoken congressman is in the national lens again – this time CBS News television cameras – in a report Wednesday that calls him “the king of earmarks who wastes a lot of taxpayer money” and implies that the FBI is investigating.
U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Johnstown, responded by waving the Constitution at the camera, saying: “What it says is the Congress of the United States appropriates the money. Got that?”
The CBS article in question is here, along with video footage that Murtha is going to regret. You can say and do things to, say, a private citizen with a video camera that you can’t do to a national news organization, and he made no friends in CBS with that antic. As can be seen with the next couple of paragraphs:
What he means is Congress gets to decide how tax dollars are spent. Specifically, Murtha himself often gets to decide. As head of the Defense Spending Committee he has the power to steer hundreds of millions of tax dollars in earmarks to companies of his choice.
Republican Rep. Jeff Flake, who’s against earmarks of any kind, is calling for an ethics investigation and says it could dwarf the last lobby mess to hit Washington.
“In terms of contributions and circular fundraising and the involvement of members it’s much bigger [than the Abramoff scandal],” he said. “Much bigger.”
Here’s the video: watch it while it lasts.
If you read the entire CBS article, you’ll see that the reason why this is triggering Murtha’s slightly confused, but full-throated, response: it’s come out that there’s a third company with ties to the Congressman being checked out. Looking back at the original article, Murtha’s office is blaming this whole thing on a ‘disgruntled worker,’ which suggests that they know (and have inadvertently revealed) something about the investigation. Something that worries them. A lot. As it should.
PS: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard this before: Murtha’s untouchable. You know something? – I heard that about Dollar Bill Jefferson, too. They always are… until, all of a sudden, they’re not.
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