Archive for Friday, October 30, 2009

Tiahrt denies any ethics violations

No reason exists for believing he’s under investigation, he says

October 30, 2009, 8:14 a.m. Updated October 30, 2009, 6:04 p.m.


— Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., denied Friday that he was focus of a House ethics investigation related to a defunct lobbying firm, earmarks and campaign contributions.

The Washington Post reported Thursday night that Tiahrt and six other members of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, including chairman John Murtha, D-Pa., were named in a leaked document. It outlined a probe about allegedly steering appropriations to clients of a defunct lobbying firm, The PMA Group, and in turn, receiving campaign contributions.

Tiahrt, of Goddard, said Friday he has no reason to believe he’s under investigation by the House ethics committee. He said his office complied with a request from the independent Office of Congressional Ethics about the process he uses to submit defense-related project requests to the appropriations committee.

“Projects I submit that are approved by both the appropriations committee and the full House are made available online with my name appearing next to the initiative,” Tiahrt said. “I also routinely issue press releases for these funding requests because I’m proud to fight for worthy projects that help protect our troops serving overseas and that create thousands of direct, high-quality Kansas jobs."

House Ethics Committee leaders in a statement said that its security was breached through “peer to peer file sharing software” used by a junior employee who was working from home. The employee was fired. Committee leaders said because the document was preliminary, no inferences should be made about any lawmaker mentioned in it.

The campaign

The news story drew widespread attention Friday because Tiahrt is campaigning for election in 2010 to a Senate seat that’s opening up Sen. Sam Brownback is running for governor. Tiahrt’s opponent is another Kansas Congressman, Jerry Moran, R-Hays.

Bob Beatty, a Washburn University political science associate professor, said the leak itself can become a major development.

“Just the looking into it can harm somebody in a campaign,” Beatty said. “To them, it’s very important that that’s kept under wraps because of the impression of impropriety, and it can be damaging in a campaign.”

Moran’s campaign could bring up the issue in coming months as the race heats up. Even if Tiahrt is never officially investigated, a third-party could run an ad reminding voters he was linked to potential scandal, Beatty said.

Because it is a primary race, Moran also has to be careful about antagonizing Republicans if he brings it up, Beatty said.

"This is a serious issue that needs to be resolved,” Moran’s campaign manager Aaron Trost said Friday. “This matter speaks to a larger issue. Washington, D.C., needs to change the way it does business when handling taxpayer dollars.”


Beatty noted that campaign contributions from groups that benefit from federal legislation don’t necessarily mean anything unethical happened.

“Obviously, they’re looking into whether any hanky-panky occurred,” he said.

Moran earlier this year said he would donate $1,500 in contributions from PMA’s political action committee to charity when federal investigators raided the lobbying firm’s office.

Tiahrt’s campaign has said in earlier news reports that it had a strict policy of only returning campaign donations if a contributor was convicted of a crime. Tiahrt raised roughly $19,750 from PMA’s PAC and employees from 2003 through 2008, according to figures compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

When PMA was in operation, two of its clients were aerospace giant Boeing Inc. and Aeroflex Inc., a Boeing supplier. Both companies have a presence in the Wichita area in Tiahrt’s district. Tiahrt said his office has “an extensive, four-phase, 15-step process for scrutinizing defense-related project requests to determine which ones have merit.”

According to an analysis by Congressional Quarterly and Taxpayers for Common Sense, Tiahrt secured $5 million in earmarks to PMA clients in 2007, and with others helped secure $2 million.


Flap Doodle 8 years, 6 months ago

Most ethical Congress ever? Hopenchange, you bet. Unless there's been a delay former Democratic Congressman Cold Cash Jefferson will be sentenced today.

headdoctor 8 years, 6 months ago

Yawn. More symbolism over substance. Nothing new. Congress members put fat in the fire, the fat gets pulled out of the fire. Resulting in a supposedly remorseful apology and or some poor staffer or adviser gets thrown to the wolves. All for the attempt to make it look to John Q Citizen that something is being done about Congressional corruption and or wrong doing. Next day, business as usual with no real down side for the politicians involved.

headdoctor 8 years, 6 months ago

snap_pop_no_crackle (Anonymous) says… Most ethical Congress ever? Hopenchange, you bet. Unless there's been a delay former Democratic Congressman Cold Cash Jefferson will be sentenced today.

Even though they will perhaps make an exception in Jefferson's case, I will be very surprised if he spends anywhere close to the amount of time in jail that a regular citizen would and it will probably be in a minimum security setting.

jmadison 8 years, 6 months ago

Rep Rangel donates to members of the Ethics committee. Its been over a year with no resolution of his situation and he remains in power as the head of the committee that writes Tax law. Our current political class is not up to the tasks the country faces.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 6 months ago

todd tifart LOOKS like a used car saleman but you can't go off of aesthetics.

parrothead8 8 years, 6 months ago

As George Washington Cable once wrote, " careful next time how you cast doubt upon a public official's guilt."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 6 months ago

"Beatty noted that campaign contributions from groups that benefit from federal legislation don’t necessarily mean anything unethical happened."

Hogwash. Just because it's standard operating procedure in Washington, on both sides of the aisle, doesn't mean it isn't unethical.

leftylucky 8 years, 6 months ago

Tiahrt was the head of the Boeing union before becoming a congressperson.

Cait McKnelly 8 years, 6 months ago

He was the head of a union and Republican? That's an oxymoron if I ever heard one and speaks volumes about his ethics.

Bob Burton 8 years, 6 months ago

After the democratic party threw the middle class white man in the dirt, we had to change partys..

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