Defense subcommittee could become appropriations consolation prize

Kaptur, the No. 2 appropriator, told The Hill on Friday that she's seeking the top spot, and Moran said he's "seriously considering" it. If both Kaptur and Moran seek the top spot on the full committee, the Defense subcommittee chairmanship could wind up a consolation prize.

Visclosky has seniority on the Defense subcommittee, but some defense analysts say his ties to the PMA Group ethics scandal, which forced him to temporarily step down as Energy and Water subcommittee chairman, might hamper his chances at the top slot. 

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While Moran and Kaptur were also included in the Ethics Committee investigation, Visclosky was one of the main targets because of his close ties to the PMA Group.

The FBI subpoenaed Visclosky’s office, and his chief of staff retired amid the federal probe.

In 2010, the Ethics Committee found there wasn’t evidence that any of the members tied to PMA exchanged contributions for earmarks, and Visclosky eventually returned to his position as chairman of the Energy and Water subcommittee.

The founder of the now-defunct PMA Group, Paul Magliocchetti, pleaded guilty in 2010 to making false statements, illegal conduit contributions and illegal corporate contributions.

One defense analyst who works closely on congressional issues said Visclosky was the “clear favorite” to replace Dicks on the subcommittee, arguing that the PMA Group issue is behind him now.

Read about the unfolding race for the full committee at The Hill's On The Money blog.