Sunday, February 22, 2009

Udall, Lamborn Linked to Pay-for-Pork Probe

The latest focus of investigators trying to untangle the pay-for-pork racket on Capitol Hill, and determine if any criminality is involved, is the lobbying shop PMA Group, which has strong ties to notorious Pennsylvania porker John Murtha but also spread around a lot of money to a bipartisan list of other members of Congress, including local Rep. Doug Lamborn and now-senator Mark Udall.

Udall and Lamborn appear on a list of members who received campaign donations from PMA, and also allegedly secured earmarks for PMA clients, which was compiled by Taxpayers for Common sense and published on Thursday in CQ Politics, accompanying a story about the unfolding scandal. Udall and Lamborn aren't prominently ranked among the members who seemed to have a cozy, symbiotic relationship with PMA: Udall is credited with securing $2 million in earmarks for PMA clients, and receiving $6,533 in campaign donations from PAM since 2001; Lamborn is listed as having secured $1 million in earmarks for PMA clients, and having received $1,000 in campaign contributions.

Neither man ranks highly on the list, as noted, but their being listed at all could spell political trouble, since PMA seems to be shaping up as the biggest lobbying scandal since the Jack Abramoff affair. And it may be particularly damaging to Lamborn, who purports to be a fiscal conservative and represents a politically-conservative district.

Investigators, lawyers and judges will ultimately determine whether improprieties or illegalities were involved. Simply having one's name appear on the list isn't proof of any wrongdoing. But it seems that Udall and Lamborn at the very least have some explaining to do. And the sooner, the better.

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