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PMA Group ‘excel’s at access to Murtha, document shows

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It’s the end of an era for Paul Magliocchetti and his lobbying shop, the PMA Group. After 20 years of existence, the firm is closing down next week in the wake of federal law enforcement raids of its office and Magliocchetti’s home in the course of an investigation into whether it wielded inappropriate influence on Capitol Hill, especially in regard to the defense appropriations process. A curious document obtained by PaperTrail appears to show the degree of coziness between the PMA Group and the House defense appropriations subcommittee — it seems that PMA’s access exceeded that of even many in Congress.

The document — an Excel table of earmarks added by members of the House — was circulated in Congress on July 26, 2007. The document’s “properties” — which identify the computer file’s history — say the document was created by “ken” of “The PMA Group” on July 23, 2007, though that does not necessarily imply that PMA engineered the earmarks themselves through the process. Column C indicates which member of the House requested the earmark. However, in an e-mail message from a congressional staffer circulating the Excel attachment, the staffer wrote, “Don’t you just love how Murtha’s lobbyists had this list before most people in Congress had it?”

Patrick Dorton, a spokesman for the PMA Group and Magliocchetti, said the document was not proof that PMA had unusual access to the House defense appropriations subcommittee, which Rep. John Murtha (D-Penn.) chairs. “Like many lobbying firms, the PMA Group took a publicly available committee document called ‘the committee print’ and reformatted it into an excel spreadsheet and probably sent it out to clients and others for informational purposes,” Dorton said. “PMA was not the originator of the information in this document. ... If this document was being forwarded around, it is only because it was obviously a useful summary of an official Capitol Hill committee document that was probably difficult to understand.”

A screen capture of the Excel document’s properties, identifying it as having been created by “ken” of “The PMA Group.”

The firm stood at the intersection of its clients — mostly defense contractors — and powerful Congressional appropriators who inserted tens of millions of dollars in military earmarks into spending bills. On its website, PMA promises its clients “an inside track to business opportunities with the federal government.” Congressional Quarterly reported last month that PMA obtained $107 million in lobby fees from its clients. But the return on investment was impressive: “In 2007 alone, they got some $100 billion in government contracts, an amount that is about 20 percent of all federal contracts that year,” CQ reported.

Paul Magliocchetti and several other PMA employees are former staffers for Murtha, whose home district has received tens of millions in earmarks and is home to many PMA clients. In 2004 a Center investigation found that "30 of the 31 upper-level employees that PMA lists on its website have prior employment with some branch of the armed forces or with the House and Senate."