The Pennsylvania Progressive has been peering into the way Congressman Mark Critz and his cohorts have been operating for quite sometime. Unfortunately for Congressman Critz, things may get more interesting as we head into the Fall. Fresh on the heels of Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Charlie Rangel (D-NY) corruption scandals, a former aide to the late Congressman John Murtha was indicted yesterday in an Alexandria, VA courtroom and released on a two million dollar bond.
Paul Magliocchetti, or “Mags” as his golf buddies affectionately called him faces 8 counts of making false campaign contributions and 3 counts of making false statements to federal officials. In short, I’d predict that Mags won’t be hitting the golf course anytime soon, unless he gets a golf course wall mural painted on the inside of his prison cell. The indictment contends that Magliocchetti had associates and employees of the now defunct PMA Lobbying Group become straw contributors to powerful Appropriations subcommittee members such as John Murtha, Norm Dicks, James Moran, and Peter Visclosky so that the PMA Group could maintain its prestige and win big time defense contracts for its clients. The contributors were then reimbursed which is a violation of the law. In 2006 alone, more than 60 earmarks went to PMA clients, totaling more than 95 million dollars, while according to the National Review, PMA associates and employees donated between $230,000 to $279,000 annually.
Congressman Mark Critz, of course, was very familiar with PMA Group. Just how close may yet remain to be seen. Typically in situations such as these, Magliocchetti may face the choice of a much lengthier stay in the slammer, or turning into the consummate rat and snuffing everyone that was involved or had knowledge of what was occurring, if anyone else knew. The big questions are, will the list of people with knowledge of what was going include former Economic Development Director, Mark Critz? And if so, what role did he have in this process?
If you’ll recall, around the time the 12th Congressional Recommendation Committee was being rigged, Former Pennsylvania State Treasurer and Auditor General Barbara Hafer, in fact, posed these concerns about Critz:
“We want to know what he testified to and what documents did he hand over to the House Ethics Committee when he testified recently,” Ms. Hafer said of Mr. Critz. “We also want him to explain his relationship with Coherent Systems.”
Coherent Systems was a defense company later acquired by Argon ST, a larger defense firm. Both were represented by PMA Associates, a now-defunct defense lobbying firm headed by Pittsburgh native and Murtha and friend Paul Magliocchetti.
Coherent’s former CEO, Rick Ianieri, later pleaded guilty to various fraud charges, including allegations that he received a kickback from officials at another defense firm, Kuchera Defense Systems, located in Windber, Somerset County.
In some ways, what Hafer asked, what was the nature of Critz’s testimony during the ethics hearing, and what was his relationship with Coherent, Argon ST, and PMA? This may turn into the achilles heel for PA-12 Democrats in the Fall for those willing to turn a blind eye to corruption. Unfortunately for the people involved, a Congressional Ethics hearing being dismissed is one thing, but the Feds are more interested in searching for criminality and investigating as to whether or not a law has been broken. That in itself is a much different standard. To my knowledge, although Critz vowed to release his testimony, he has yet comply with his commitment to do so.
We do know however, that former PMA associates persist to be close donors to Congressman Critz, as former PMA lobbyists recently gave at least $75,000 in personal contributions leading up to the Special Election in May. Indeed, it would not be surprising if any of those former PMA lobbyists and donors had knowledge of the racket that Magliocchetti orchestrated and if so, they may end up knee deep in it with him.
Ultimately, this should compel Congressman Critz to return their contributions or donate them to charity immediately and of course, release the full transcript of his Congressional Ethics Committee testimony to the press and public regarding PMA Associates and Mr. Magliocchetti.
As for Maglioccetti, he should come forward and reveal anyone else who had knowledge of the process that was occurring and their role, if anyone else knew what was going on. It may land him a much shorter stay in the slammer.
Correction: It seems Paul Maglioccetti never worked directly for Congressman Murtha. We regret the error. According to a Google search Murtha’s staff, at one time, issued this statement: “Magliochetti (sic) served as a staff analyst for the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Murtha was never Chairman or Ranking Member while Magliochetti (sic) worked for the subcommittee. In fact, Magliochetti (sic) worked for Chairman Bill Chappel and full committee chairman Jamie Whitten.”