EXCLUSIVE: FBI Raided Lobbying Firm Connected to Murtha

Feds narrowing in on companies with ties to congressman.

ByABC News
February 9, 2009, 6:34 PM

February 9, 2009— -- The FBI raided the offices of a defense lobbying firm with close ties to Democratic Rep. John Murtha (Penn.), sources tell ABC News.

The FBI searched the Virginia headquarters of the PMA Group in November, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. PMA was founded by former congressional aide Paul Magliochetti and specializes in winning earmarked taxpayer funds for its clients.

Good government groups have long criticized Murtha's cozy relationship with a handful of lobbyists and defense firms, ties that see millions of dollars in government spending go out from Murtha's office, and hundreds of thousands in campaign donations come in. Murtha has said his earmarking has helped revive his economically depressed district.

PMA is the second company with close ties to Murtha to be raided by federal agents recently. In January, agents from the FBI, the IRS and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service searched the office of Kuchera Industries and Kuchera Defense Systems, as well as the homes of the firms' founders. The companies reportedly have received over $100 million in earmarks, thanks to Murtha's efforts.

Investigators have not commented on their interest in the companies, and no official has suggested Murtha was involved in any suspected wrongdoing by the companies.

While it is unclear whether Murtha is a target of the investigations, the heightened scrutiny of some of his closest donors and allies signals that the Feds may be inching closer to the 35-year-member of Congress, who chairs the powerful Defense Appropriations subcommittee.

"The FBI is showing a lot of interest in" a lot of people around Murtha, said Keith Ashdown of Taxpayers for Common Sense. "If I was in Murtha's camp, I would not be sleeping at night."

A spokesperson for PMA Group, Patrick Dorton, confirmed the raid in a statement Monday afternoon. "Government representatives did come to the PMA offices. They requested a number of different kinds of information," Dorton said. "The firm is cooperating with their requests."

Asked if Murtha had been contacted by the FBI or if he believed he was the target of an investigation, spokesman Matthew Mazonkey said "no and no," adding, "I'm not going to waste my time with sensationalized journalism."