- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Rep. John Murtha is thinking big thoughts. Since coming out for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq last year, he has accused Marines of murder “in cold blood” before a preliminary investigation is even complete; accused the military of a cover up over the same incident; declared his candidacy for the House majority leadership post; and, most recently, refined his cut-and-run strategy in Iraq to mean “redeployment” to Okinawa, Japan.

That’s quite a splash for such a veteran congressman, who a year ago had zero name recognition outside Washington. That he’s made a name for himself now by slandering our troops and their mission deserves a brief recital of some other activities associated with Mr. Murtha.

Last June, the Los Angeles Times reported how the ranking member on the defense appropriations subcommittee has a brother, Robert Murtha, whose lobbying firm represents 10 companies that received more than $20 million from last year’s defense spending bill. “Clients of the lobbying firm KSA Consulting — whose top officials also include former congressional aide Carmen V. Scialabba, who worked for Rep. Murtha as a congressional aide for 27 years — received a total of $20.8 million from the bill,” the L.A. Times reported.

In early 2004, according to Roll Call, Mr. Murtha “reportedly leaned on U.S. Navy officials to sign a contract to transfer the Hunters Point Shipyard to the city of San Francisco.” Laurence Pelosi, nephew of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, at the time was an executive of the company which owned the rights to the land. The same article also reported how Mr. Murtha has been behind millions of dollars worth of earmarks in defense appropriations bills that went to companies owned by the children of fellow Pennsylvania Democrat, Rep. Paul Kanjorski. Meanwhile, the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan campaign-finance watchdog group, lists Mr. Murtha as the top recipient of defense industry dollars in the current 2006 election cycle.

As Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican, has said, “If there is a potential pattern where Congressman Murtha has helped other Democrats secure appropriations that also benefited relatives of those members, I believe this would be something that merits further review by the ethics committee.”

It’s odd that the media, which has been fairly unbiased in going after corrupt politicians recently, has gone silent on Mr. Murtha’s questionable actions. Or maybe it isn’t. Since December, Mr. Murtha has become the darling of the antiwar crowd, and, as we’ve seen with other such darlings, scrutinizing their behavior is considered disrespectful. But as we’re on the subject, few might recall that after the massive 1980 Abscam scandal, Mr. Murtha was named by the FBI as an “unindicted co-conspirator.”

Maybe the next time the new Jack Murtha thinks up another big idea someone can ask him about the old Jack Murtha.

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