Flake Offers Democrats a Deal on PMA Resolutions

Posted May 6, 2009 at 4:43pm

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is renewing his challenge to House Democrats to confront the ongoing scandal surrounding the PMA Group, the now-defunct lobbying firm with close ties to senior appropriators.

But this time, Flake’s eighth attempt at forcing an ethics probe through a privileged resolution, he is also offering beleaguered Democratic leaders a deal to end the politically embarrassing votes: end earmarks to private companies, and he will back off.

“The ball is in the court of the House leadership,— Flake said on the House floor Wednesday afternoon, according to a prepared text. “If they want to continue to defend the practice of giving no-bid contracts to private companies, particularly those whose executives and lobbyists turn around and make campaign contributions to the members who secured those no-bid contracts, then I suppose we’ll have to continue to use this blunt instrument.—

Flake’s resolutions have caused considerable heartburn for Democratic leaders over the past few months. They lost 17 of their own on Flake’s first attempt back in late February, shortly after reports that the FBI had raided PMA’s offices in an apparent probe of improper campaign contributions. And a steady trickle of Democrats have joined him since, with 27 defecting on the last resolution, just before the Easter recess.

Pelosi recently enlisted Rep. Howard Berman (Calif.), formerly the top Democrat on the ethics panel, to help make the case to her Caucus that Flake’s resolution is the wrong approach.