The House ethics committee is probing two lawmakers’ ties to PMA Group, the now-defunct lobbying firm that has been at the center of a federal investigation since last year.
The identity of one of those lawmakers, Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-IN) comes as little surprise. That of the other, Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS), is more unexpected.
A separate body, the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), since early December has been conducting preliminary inquiries into the two lawmakers’ ties to PMA. The Ethics committee announced on Friday that the OCE had recommended that the Ethics committee launch a full investigation. It now has until March 2 to announce a course of action.
The investigations concern earmarks won by the lawmakers for PMA, and whether they came in return for campaign contributions. Visclosky’s former chief of staff, as well as office records, were subpoenaed last year by the FBI. That led to Visclosky temporarily stepping down as chair of an appropriations subcommittee last year. Only Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) has received more in campaign contributions form PMA and it employees than has Visclosky. PMA’s offices were raided last year by the FBI.
Tiahrt, by contrast, has not figured prominently in news accounts of the PMA probe, and has not received as many campaign contributions from the firm. He is running for the U.S. Senate this year. Like Visclosky, he serves on the Defense Appropriations sub-committee. Tiahrt also is involved with C Street, the controversial Christian fellowship house on Capitol Hill, according to the writer Jeff Sharlet, an expert on the group.
Last month, OCE recommended that the Ethics committee drop similar inquiries into several other members of the sub-committee, including Murtha.