‘Prince of Pork’ King Among Like-Minded

As recently reported by The Washington Post , Pennsylvania Congressman John P. Murtha is not the only King of the Hill rolling lucrative contracts to friends and family.

According to the watchdog group the Center for Public Integrity, 12 of 16 members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense (which Murtha chairs) have replicated ol’ Blurtha’s behavior, channeling money to supporters, former staffers and the like. While the argument can be made that lawmakers believe in the standards and proven performance of these trusted allies, (not to mention “to the victor goes the spoils,”) these members of the powerful committee have earmarked $100 million for their cronies.

(Murtha, a long-time supporter of earmarks in general, has an area of his House Web site that lists earmark requests.)

The analysis, entitled, “The Murtha Method,” is a detailed, sobering look at an alleged slice of political business in Washington. Aside from the master, Murtha, the dozen members are highlighted. Northern Virginia’s own Rep. Jim Moran joins the ranks of defense dollar earmark royalty. Many companies, large and small depend upon defense contracts. It is tough to compete when fair competition is circumvented.

What can be done? Maybe not much. Watchdog groups and journalists can report this situation, but these lawmakers bring home the bacon to their districts, rendering them beyond reproach. In fact, Moran has been so effective that every conceivable command and office is being crammed into Northern Virginia. Forget that the roads, public transportation and critical infrastructure will be pushed well beyond capacity, but jobs and money will be flowing around the Beltway.

Our guess is that committees with dough to throw show similar behavior. But defense is fraught with cronyism, as most recently underscored by the findings of the DoD Inspector General investigation into disgraced former Air Force chief of Staff T. Michael Moseley – another wheeler and dealer with defense dollars. (Can you say Jumbotron?)

But is cronyism (real or perceived) bad for defense?

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