Amid probe, Rep. Visclosky steps aside from approps bill

Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.) announced on Tuesday that will ask another lawmaker to oversee his panel’s main appropriations bill while he deals with a federal investigation.

Visclosky said in a statement that he is planning to ask Rep. Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.) to temporarily handle the subcommittee’s work on the fiscal 2010 Energy and Water appropriations bill.

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Visclosky is the chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over that funding bill.

Visclosky’s announcement came the same day a spokesman for the Indiana lawmaker said Visclosky’s chief of staff had “retired.”

On Friday, Visclosky announced federal law enforcement officials had served the congressman’s offices and some staff with subpoenas related to an investigation into a now-defunct lobbying firm, The PMA Group.

Federal investigators are looking into whether PMA Group and its owner, Paul Magliocchetti, made illegal campaign contributions to lawmakers. Visclosky was one of the top recipients of campaign money from PMA and its associates.

Rich Kaelin, Visclosky’s former chief of staff, was a lobbyist at the now-defunct firm. The FBI raided PMA in November.

“I have represented the people of Northwest Indiana to the best of my ability and I have always abided by the law and adhered to the rules and code of ethics of the House,” Visclosky said in a statement issued Tuesday.

“However, as a firm believer in the institution of the House of Representatives, I intend to ask Congressman Ed Pastor to temporarily handle the Fiscal Year 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations bill during committee and House consideration.