Resolution would offer Dems cover in PMA probe

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is making plans to offer a resolution as early as Wednesday afternoon that will provide Democrats political cover on an FBI investigation into the now-defunct PMA Group and its ties to senior Democratic lawmakers.

The resolution would force the House ethics committee to disclose whether it is investigating the nexus between campaign contributions and earmarks PMA Group clients have received, according to knowledgeable Democratic sources. Such a move would implicate Reps. Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.), whose office the FBI subpoenaed for documents last week, as well as Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) because both are top recipients of PMA campaign contributions and have doled out millions of dollars in earmarks to the firm’s clients.

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Hoyer’s move is aimed at countering a resolution Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) has offered nine times. That measure would force the ethics committee to investigate the PMA Group matter and report back to the full House within two months. Democrats have managed to kill debate on the resolution each time Flake has offered it, but it has gradually picked up Democratic support. The first time Flake offered it only 17 Democrats bucked their leaders and voted with Flake; the last time 29 Democrats broke off.

In closed-door leadership meetings Hoyer has tried to convince Democrats to vote in favor of Flake’s resolution as a way to defuse the issue, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has resisted.

Flake said he would be happy to step aside and allow Hoyer to offer the resolution, as long as it wasn’t watered down in any way.

“I think [Democratic leaders] are in a real box,” Flake said. “If they allow a real investigation between earmarks and campaign contributions, there are a lot of places that could go.”

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