The most ethical Congress EVAH. After a four year investigation looking into Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) using his position to secure more than $250 million in federal funding for close friends running non-profits, the Department of Justice just closed the investigation with no action.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia had been overseeing an investigation of Mollohan, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, for steering roughly $250 million in line-item expenditures to several nonprofit organizations run by close friends, who also were real estate partners with him.
Mollohan’s office was notified this month that the investigation had been closed without criminal charges filed. Federal prosecutors declined to elaborate on what the investigation had found.
“We’re not going to get into any details, but I can confirm we’ve closed the investigation into Alan Mollohan,” Ben Friedman, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, said Monday evening.
Even if Mollohan’s efforts are completely legal and “ethical” as defined by the current leadership in the House, the real problem is perception. Sure, Mollohan’s constituents have not been screaming about him bringing a quarter billion dollars in cash back to his district which has a population of more than 600,000 residents. With these projects alone, that’s more than $400 per resident. How many actually vote?
The Department of Justice is not telling us why they dropped the investigation. How come? Simple … this is business as usual inside the beltway. Bring home the bacon, and of course Mollohan helped set up the non-profits to bring that pork back home. From the New York Times in April 2006.
As lawmakers have increasingly slipped pet projects into federal spending bills over the past decade, one lawmaker has used his powerful perch on the House Appropriations Committee to funnel $250 million into five nonprofit organizations that he set up.
Those actions have prompted a complaint to federal prosecutors that questions whether any of that taxpayer money helped fuel a parallel growth in his personal fortune.
The most ambitious effort by the congressman, Alan B. Mollohan, is a glistening glass-and-steel structure with a swimming pool, sauna and spa rising in a former cow pasture in Fairmont, W.Va., thanks to $103 million of taxpayer money he garnered through special spending allocations known as earmarks.
The headquarters building is likely to sit largely empty upon completion this summer, because the Mollohan-created organization that it was built for, the Institute for Scientific Research, is in disarray, its chief executive having resigned under a cloud of criticism over his $500,000 annual compensation, also paid by earmarked federal money.
The five organizations have diverse missions but form a cozy, cross-pollinated network in the forlorn former coal capitals of north-central West Virginia. Mr. Mollohan has recruited many of their top employees and board members, including longtime friends or former aides, who in turn provide him with steady campaign contributions and positive publicity in their newsletters.
This is a perfect example of a symptom of the disease. Don’t like these types of earmarks that steal money from taxpayers and distribute that wealth to friends and cohorts of Congress-critters with the power to do anything they want with the cash? You know what needs to be done.
Cut federal spending unilaterally without remorse and limit federal spending to constitutionally authorized spending. If you want those special projects in your state – and I’m perfectly fine with that – come up with the damn funding yourselves.
Concerning Mollohan … what did you expect Pelosi to do? Suggest he retire after more than 25 years in Congress?
Some history on Mollohan over at Death by 1,000 Papercuts.