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June 03, 2009

Steny Hoyer Siding With Republicans, Against Pelosi, on Ethics Investigations?
Update: Just "Cover" for Democrats

Granny Rictus McBotoxImplants once promised "the most ethical Congress in history." Right before simply blocking all investigations into Democratic malfeasance.

Steny Hoyer, pressured by Jeff Flake and his own Speaker-ly ambitions and maybe even his conscience, may be bucking her. Hate-bucking her, maybe.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) plans to offer as early as Wednesday afternoon a privileged resolution to force the ethics committee to disclose whether it is investigating senior Democratic appropriators’ ties to the PMA Group, Democratic sources say.

Hoyer’s move follows eight attempts by Republican anti-earmark crusader Rep. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) to jump-start a probe — and aims to pre-empt Flake’s ninth stab at the issue, which was due for a vote on Thursday. It marks a sharp break from Democratic leaders’ previous approach to the burgeoning controversy involving the now-defunct lobbying firm, which amounted to them trying to keep their ranks in line opposing the Flake resolutions.

In late winter, when Flake began his assault, Hoyer argued in leadership meetings that Democrats should embrace the resolution to neutralize it.

But Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pushed back, contending that such a move would open lawmakers up to ethics witch-hunts down the line. Since then, Democrats have slowly peeled off to support Flake: While only 17 broke ranks on his first attempt, 29 supported his latest, offered just before the Memorial Day recess.

The move comes just after Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) acknowledged his offices and some staff had been subpoenaed as part of a federal probe into PMA. Other Democratic appropriators, including Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), have long ties to PMA and its clients.

Jeff Flake is pretty sweet, eh?

"Cover:" The Hill reports this is just intended as cover for Democrats-- the Democrats get to vote on weak measure and claim they take corruption seriously, while, um, not taking corruption seriously.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is making plans to offer a resolution as early as Wednesday afternoon that will provide Democrats political cover on an FBI investigation into the now-defunct PMA Group and its ties to senior Democratic lawmakers.

The resolution would force the House ethics committee to disclose whether it is investigating the nexus between campaign contributions and earmarks PMA Group clients have received, according to knowledgeable Democratic sources. Such a move would implicate Reps. Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.), whose office the FBI subpoenaed for documents last week, as well as Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) because both are top recipients of PMA campaign contributions and have doled out millions of dollars in earmarks to the firm’s clients.

Hoyer’s move is aimed at countering a resolution Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) has offered nine times. That measure would force the ethics committee to investigate the PMA Group matter and report back to the full House within two months. Democrats have managed to kill debate on the resolution each time Flake has offered it, but it has gradually picked up Democratic support. The first time Flake offered it only 17 Democrats bucked their leaders and voted with Flake; the last time 29 Democrats broke off.

Flake, however, will permit the measure, as long as it's not further watered down, and still thinks the weak measure would wind up forcing an investigation, and that "there are a lot of places that could go."

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posted by Ace at 01:36 PM

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