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PMA Group Raided by FBI in November

Updated: 11:18 p.m., Feb. 9, 2009

The PMA Group, a lobbying firm with close ties to Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), was raided by the FBI in November, a PMA spokesman confirmed.

The revelation, coming after a raid by federal agents last month on the homes and offices of Pennsylvania contractors with ties to Murtha, could signal a wider probe of the powerful House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense chairman. The raid was first reported Monday night by ABC News.

“Government representatives did come to the PMA offices,” PMA spokesman Patrick Dorton said in a statement. “They requested a number of different kinds of information. The firm is cooperating with their requests.”

There is no evidence that the lawmaker is being accused of any wrongdoing or that he is a target of the investigation.

Matthew Mazonkey, a Murtha spokesman, said the Congressman “has not been contacted by any federal agency, and no one is suggesting that Jack Murtha has anything to do with this. Period.”

Keith Ashdown, chief investigator for Taxpayers for Common Sense, agreed that “there is no evidence that Jack Murtha is under federal investigation,” but, he added, “there is no entity that is closer to Jack Murtha in this city than PMA.”

Ashdown noted that there was an apparent connection to the federal raids last month on Kuchera Industries and Kuchera Defense Systems — two western Pennsylvania outfits with no link to the PMA Group but close ties to the lawmaker.

“This investigation is moving in the direction of Jack Murtha,” Ashdown said.

The PMA Group, founded in 1989 by former Murtha aide Paul Magliocchetti, vaulted into the top ranks of K Street firms in recent years in part by solidifying its reputation for unrivaled access to the defense cardinal.

The firm’s intensifying commitment to Murtha is evident from federal election records: While PMA lobbyists and their clients contributed about $370,000 to the lawmaker in the 2002 election cycle, in the 2006 cycle, that support jumped to $600,000.

For the two-year period just ended, the firm and its clients kicked in about $775,000, a recent Roll Call analysis found.

And Murtha has showered PMA clients with earmarks.

In 2007, the first year new transparency standards enabled researchers to track the projects’ sponsors, Murtha directed 17 earmarks worth a total of about $65 million to PMA clients. Last year, he secured a total of $28.1 million for nine of the shop’s clients.

The firm, based in Arlington, Va., claims a wide base of clients in Murtha’s district and has been active there. It has committed $25,000 to become a “silver sponsor” of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, a favorite of Murtha’s wife, Joyce, according to a report in the New York Times.

The firm sponsored a Champagne reception at the symphony’s opera festival in September.

In the two weeks before the Nov. 4 elections, with Murtha facing a surprisingly stiff re-election challenge after making controversial remarks about his constituents, the PMA Group and its clients contributed more than $110,000 to his last-minute fundraising blitz.

While PMA reported pulling down $13.8 million in 2008, a recent report by National Journal said the shop is “in turmoil.” Several veteran lobbyists at the shop have been trying to forge a buyout deal with Magliocchetti, the report said.

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