Last year, Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) secured five defense earmarks for private companies in his hometown of Bremerton, Wash., worth a total of $10 million. Four of the companies shared something in common they were all represented by the PMA Group, the now-
defunct lobbying firm that has spurred an investigation of earmarks by the House ethics committee.
PMA has been Dicks largest source of campaign contributions since 2001, according to a Roll Call review of Federal Election Commission records, with the companys political action committee, employees and their family members providing the 17-term Congressman more money than the employees and PACs of Boeing and Microsoft combined.
But Dicks chief of staff, George Behan, said there is no connection between those donations and the earmarks Dicks provides, noting that the Congressman has also secured earmarks for infrastructure projects, libraries, naval operations and other private companies throughout the district that have no connection to PMA.
Behan also said the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, which announced last week that it is conducting an investigation related to PMA earmarks, has not contacted Dicks or his office.
PMA and its clients have provided Dicks with nearly $200,000 in campaign contributions since 2001, $116,000 of which came from PMA employees, their relatives and PMAs PAC.
By comparison, over the same period, Dicks has received $65,250 from Boeing employees and the Boeing PAC and $49,250 from Microsofts employees and PAC.
Denny Miller Associates Inc., a lobbying firm with deep ties to the Washington Congressional delegation and a client list heavy on Pacific Northwest firms, provided $44,250 in campaign contributions to Dicks over the same period. Miller did not return a phone call requesting comment for this story.
PMA was founded in 1988 by Paul Magliocchetti, who was a staff member on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. Of the Members who served on that subcommittee when Magliocchetti was on staff, only three remain in Congress Dicks and Reps. John Murtha (D-Pa.) and Bill Young (R-Fla.). Richard Efford, a colleague of Magliocchettis on the subcommittee staff in the late 1980s, also ultimately joined him at the PMA Group.
Much has been made of PMAs connections to Murtha, who has provided millions of dollars worth of earmarks to PMA clients and has collected hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of campaign contributions from PMA employees and clients.
Dicks has received far less attention but the pattern is similar.
In the fiscal 2009 appropriations cycle, four private companies in Bremerton that received defense earmarks from Dicks were PMA clients: Advanced Acoustic Concepts of Hauppauge, N.Y.; Planning Systems Inc. of Reston, Va.; Concurrent Technologies Corp. of Johnstown, Pa.; and 21st Century Systems Inc. of Omaha, Neb.
While none of the firms is headquartered in Dicks Congressional district, each has opened a satellite office in Bremerton, and Dicks knows the people that run those firms and he knows people who get a paycheck every week, Behan said.
The fifth Bremerton earmark was for the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, which has hired several lobbyists, including Dicks former district director.
The PMA clients also received defense earmarks from Dicks in the 2008 cycle, along with three other private companies in Bremerton that were not represented by PMA.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.