As the PMA lobbying scandal grinds on, reform-minded Republicans in Congress have forced Democratic leaders to rally and cajole support from their party ranks to protect the Democratic members implicated in the scandal – notably Reps. John Murtha (PA) and Pete Visclosky (IN) – from negative headlines and congressional investigations. But Dems, especially vulnerable first-termers, aren't toeing the party line.
Anti-earmark crusader Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) keeps introducing legislation to open a congressional ethics probe into the firm’s activities, which saw millions in campaign donations flow to lawmakers, and hundreds of millions in earmarks flow to their clients.
Eight times Flake has introduced such a resolution, and eight times it’s been defeated. But that’s not the point: each time out he picks off a few more Democratic votes, often from junior lawmakers eager to hold on to their seats. They can already see their future opponents’ campaign ads: “Rep. So-and-so voted AGAINST investigating corruption in his ranks EIGHT TIMES!”
Flake has indicated he’s going for a ninth try this evening. And some of those nervous Democrats are starting to really push back against their leadership about the situation, Congressional Quarterly reports today.
“To me it’s a no-brainer that if you get someone earmarks, they can’t contribute to your campaign,” Rep. Jim Himes, a freshman Democrat from Connecticut, told the publication.
By now, almost a third of freshmen Democrats have voted against their party to support Flake’s resolutions.
Rep. Tom Periello, a 34-year-old Virginia Democrat, told CQ he thought Republicans were involved in “some partisan game-playing,” but he still supported Flake’s resolution. “We want clean government,” Perriello said to CQ reporter Bennett Roth. “A lot of us ran on that. We think the rules are still broken.”