The Office of Congressional Ethics turned over its files relating to an ongoing investigation of the PMA Group, a now-closed earmarks lobbying firm. The OCE’s investigation generated more than 250,000 pages of documents. The Hill reports that the OCE’s turnover of data may indicate that its findings uncovered illegal activity in the course of its investigation.
The firm was under a cloud after allegations of earmark fraud and pay-for-play activity among the clients of PMA and certain members of the House Appropriations Committee, and closed its doors in 2009.
Reps. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) requested that the OCE release to the public evidence collected in its investigation of PMA, but the OCE refused to grant the request, citing the “circumstances of this case and the risk of prejudice to any pending criminal investigation, among other concerns.” The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (Ethics Committee) had been investigating seven Representatives in connection with the affair, but cleared them all in February.
Washington Post reports that the main point seized on by the investigators regarded providing campaign funds to lawmakers – “In one e-mail exchange, a McLean defense contractor seeking an earmark complained that he didn’t want to go to a wine-tasting fundraiser hosted by PMA for Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) because he didn’t drink. His boss responded: ‘You don’t have to drink. You just have to pay.'”