Report: Former PMA lobbyist to plead guilty

A former lobbyist implicated in a scandal involving hundreds of millions of dollars in defense earmarks will plead guilty to giving illegal campaign contributions to numerous members of Congress, according to an Associated Press report.

Paul Magliocchetti, who once headed the earmark-lobbying powerhouse PMA Group, shifted his plea regarding illegal donations to guilty Thursday. He previously pleaded not guilty to an 11-count felony indictment, charging him with doling out illegal donations to campaigns dating back to 2003 in order to boost his chances of winning earmarks for his clients.

The AP cites a “person outside the government who is familiar with the criminal investigation” who says the fallen lobbyist will enter a guilty plea on September 24th in federal court in Alexandria, Va. A new electronic courthouse docket states that Magliocchetti will attend a “change of plea hearing” on that date.

Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler did not return a request for comment.

The decision to plead guilty follows a decision by Magliocchetti’s son, Mark, to plead guilty. In Mark Magliocchetti’s statement of fact, which usually accompanies a guilty plea, he said the donations helped the lobbying firm get what it wanted from members of Congress.

“Making campaign contributions helped [the PMA Group] gain access to candidates for federal office, which in turn helped [PMA Group] maintain and accrue lobbying work and clients,” he wrote.

Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.) stepped down from chairing an appropriations subcommittee last year after a grand jury last year subpoenaed documents from his office, some of his staffers and his campaign committee.

Magliocchetti once worked on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee and lawmakers on the panel, including the Visclosky and the late Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Pa.), were showered with contributions and secured more than a hundred million dollars in earmarks for PMA clients.

In 2007 and 2008, the AP reported, Murtha, Visclosky, as well as Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) directed $137 million to defense contractors who hired PMA to represent their interests on Capitol Hill.

“Some lawmakers want us to believe these contributions don't get lobbyists or their clients diddly,” said Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Commonsense. “If you believe that, I've got a bridge to nowhere to sell you.”

Magliocchetti was accused of reimbursing his staffers for campaign donations they made from their personal accounts with the company’s funds.