A Tale of Two Old Porkers

When Speaker Pelosi vowed to "drain the swamp," she may have inadvertently dried up the mud in the pig pen, leaving Murtha and Abercrombie high and dry.

Neil Abercrombie, Citizens Against Government Waste’s August 2009 Porker of the Month, and John Murtha, winner of their Porker of the Year in 2007 have a lot in common. In fact it could be said that Abercrombie was a kind of Murtha porker protégé. Both Murtha (now deceased) and Abercrombie (now retired) chaired vitally important Congressional defense committees that controlled vast amounts of military spending.  Murtha and Abercrombie cultivated a wide array of eager defense contractors and harvested millions in campaign contributions.

Although Abercrombie finished well behind uber-porker, Barney Frank, for 2009 Porker of the Year honors, it cannot be said that he didn’t have “game.”

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WASHINGTON – (BUSINESS WIRE) – “Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) its August Porker of the Month. Rep. Abercrombie is a multiple threat to taxpayers. He ranked first in earmarks in the House in fiscal year (FY) 2009 with 44 projects worth $256.8 million and fifth in the House in FY 2008 with 29 projects worth $153.6 million. (2)

Rep. Abercrombie’s latest outrage is to slip a provision (Sec. 2833) into the House version of the 2010 Defense Authorization Act that would double the construction costs of relocating 11,600 U.S. troops from Japan to Guam. The original cost estimate was $15 billion, $10 billion of which is associated with construction of living quarters for military personnel and their families. However, Sec. 2833 requires that the wages paid to construction workers match the “prevailing” wages in Hawaii, which are 250 percent higher than those on Guam. The Congressional Budget Office estimates this “would increase the need for discretionary appropriations by about $10 billion over the 2010-2014 period.” (2)

OpenSecrets.org lists the Hunt Building Company, which is headquartered in Texas and would be one of the prime builders of the facilities on Guam, as among Abercrombie’s top five campaign contributors in the 2007-2008 election cycle. The Hawaii Free Press reported on August 4 that Hunt has contributed at least $32,500 to Abercrombie’s re-election since 2002. (2)(6)

Finally, Rep. Abercrombie has supported the unwanted and unnecessary alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which was first identified by CAGW as an earmark in the 2004 Congressional Pig Book and has been a target for elimination by the Pentagon and both Presidents Bush and Obama.” (2)

Since 2005, Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the F-35 has funneled $25,460 to Abercrombie. (6)

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“The PMA Group (Paul Magliocchetti and Associates) was primarily a defense lobbying group based in Washington D.C. and closely associated with Rep. John Murtha, D-PA. The firm’s main office was raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) last year. In total, PMA Group’s employees and its political action committee have given current members of Congress $3.4 million since 1989, with 79 percent of that going to Democrats, according to OpenSecrets.org.” (3)

Abercrombie received his share from Magliocchetti’s PMA before the doors closed including $2,000 in 2008 election cycle, and $3,000 in 2006 election cycle. (3)

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Another of Murtha and Abercrombie’s mutual contributors has also fallen on hard times, and pleading guilty to bribery in Federal Court certainly qualifies as “hard times.”

“Richard Ianieri, former president and CEO of Coherent Systems International Corp…gave $13,500 to Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.).(5)

In the last three election cycles, Ianieri cut checks to several other Democrats, including $5,300 to Rep. Patrick Murphy (Pa.), $2,000 to Rep. Chet Edwards (Texas), $1,500 to Rep. Neil Abercrombie (Hawaii), $1,000 to Rep. Joe Sestak (Pa.) and $1,400 to Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (Pa.).” (5)

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It’s not surprising that Abercrombie led the charge against Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s new ethics watchdog group.

“Pelosi called for creation of the OCE [Office of Congressional Ethics] when she was sworn in as speaker in January 2007, but it took until October of that year for a special task force chaired by Rep. Michael E. Capuano (D-Mass.) to flesh out the details for an independent ethics office. Several more months of haggling ensued, and the plan met fierce resistance from senior lawmakers such as Reps. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), who saw the outside office as an affront to the congressional tradition of self-policing. The House finally approved the resolution creating the OCE on March 11, 2008.” (4)

Abercrombie has been consistent in bristling against ethics oversight.  A Republican Campaign Committee press release noted:

Business as Usual: Neil Abercrombie Votes to Kill Motion to Investigate Pay-to-Play Earmark Schemes
Washington– Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) today continued to back-track on his empty promises to clean up corruption in Congress when he voted to kill a resolution introduced by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) that would “investigate the relationship between earmark requests already made by Members and the source and timing of past contributions.” (7)
Sources:
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  1. Pingback: Progressive Representatives « Recycle Washington

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