PMA Group Contributions Hard to Track

Posted February 20, 2009 at 11:30am

Updated: 2:22 p.m. Tracking Federal Election Commission records of campaign donations attributed to the PMA Group is a comedy of errors, misinformation and mysteries, providing more questions than answers about how much money the lobbying firm actually raised for Congressional campaigns. Roll Call has located tens of thousands of dollars worth of PMA-linked donations that are improperly reported in the FEC database, beyond the suspicious pattern of giving established by two Floridians who joined the company’s board of directors in 2006. Patrick Dorton, a spokesman for the PMA Group, pointed out that the responsibility for the data reported to the FEC lies with the campaigns, not the firm. He added: “Everybody knows that there are lots of innocent errors that occur in campaign FEC reporting. … It happens all the time in this city.” The FBI raided the offices of the PMA Group in November, and the firm, which specialized in getting defense earmarks for its clients, has disintegrated since then. The government is apparently investigating whether some of the millions of dollars in campaign donations linked to the firm were improper. Roll Call reported last week that a hotel sommelier and a golf club marketing director who had no previous political profile joined the firm’s board in 2006 and made more than $160,000 in campaign donations over a three-year period. The two Floridians generally contributed the same amount to the same candidates on the same days, but in the FEC database, the description of their employer varies from PMA to a Ritz Carlton hotel to “self/retired” to no information. Roll Call reported Thursday that one of those men, Jon Walker, is reported on several donations as being a partner at EVAS Worldwide, a PMA client that has no record of ever employing anyone by that name. But the oddities in the FEC records don’t end there. Leslie Magliocchetti, daughter-in-law of PMA founder Paul Magliocchetti, provides a good example. According to the FEC database, Leslie Magliocchetti has made about $209,000 in campaign donations since 2002. PMA is listed as her employer on only $14,400 of that. But she also made $115,900 in donations that show her employer as the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. According to that organization’s annual reports, Leslie Magliocchetti was the organization’s director of field operations in 2002 and senior director of communications in 2003. By the 2004 annual report, she was no longer listed as a staff member, and the organization told Roll Call this week that no one there could recall when she had left. Nevertheless, she appears in the FEC database as an employee of the organization on dozens of donations since 2004, including 11 donations last year totaling $21,500. In addition, Leslie Magliocchetti’s employer is listed as the “Black Rooster/manager” on three 2008 donations totaling $1,750. It is not clear what the Black Rooster is, and the FEC has no other donations in its database from anyone listing the Black Rooster as their employer. The FEC database also includes people listed as working for PMA who never did. One such example is Evan Knisely, a former lobbyist at Van Scoyoc Associates Inc. who now works for MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc. Knisely is reported as a PMA employee on three contributions of $1,000 each to Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) in 2003 and 2004, and one $5,000 donation in 2004 to Visclosky’s political action committee. Through a spokeswoman, Knisely said he never worked for PMA and has no idea why his contributions are recorded that way. He has contacted Visclosky campaign officials and asked them to fix the reports. The Washington Post last week identified two men who each made single contributions that were attributed to PMA, though neither ever worked at the firm. An FEC spokeswoman said it is the responsibility of the campaigns to gather and report information about donors’ employers. FEC staff review incoming reports and will contact a campaign if the information looks obviously erroneous or is missing. Ultimately, campaigns can face civil penalties from the election agency for knowingly filing inaccurate information, and the Justice Department can pursue criminal charges.