Representative John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, with Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, has long wielded considerable clout. Matthew Cavanaugh/European Pressphoto Agency
From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON — So powerful was Representative John P. Murtha at one time that he used to put up billboards in his Western Pennsylvania district declaring that “the P is for Power.” Few in Congress dared disagree: he doled out or withheld billions in federal money each year for lawmakers’ pet projects, better known as earmarks.
Now, however, a string of federal criminal investigations of contractors or lobbyists close to Mr. Murtha, the top Democrat on the defense appropriations subcommittee, are threatening to undermine his backroom clout.
In the weeks since the news that prosecutors had raided the offices of the PMA Group — a lobbying firm founded by a former Murtha associate that became a gateway to his office and his biggest source of campaign money — about two dozen rank-and-file Democrats have risked his wrath by calling for a House ethics investigation of the matter. One Democrat has even foresworn seeking earmarks for the military contractors in his district because of ethical concerns about the process.
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