Bill Young cleared, again, in ethics case
The investigation focused on the now defunct lobbying firm PMA Group. Young, who just announced he plans to seek a 41st term, had already been cleared in a related probe by the Office of Congressional Ethics. Young was asked about six PMA clients but said only three got money through him: Concurrent Technologies Corp. in Largo, AAR Corp. in Clearwater and CodaOctopus in St. Pete Beach.
According to a campaign finance database complied by Opensecrets.org, Young has received $460,000 from PMA and its clients over the years. But Young's office contended that number is distorted since it includes companies for which PMA did specific work, but Young was not involved with that aspect of the companies.
A report issued today says that Young told the committee that "when he meets with the representatives of companies for whom he requests earmarks, it is his practice to meet only with the companies’ principals without a lobbyist present."
It went on, "While members of his staff might have had interactions with PMA lobbyists, Representative Young has never met with a PMA lobbyist on any matter and could not recall an instance when a PMA lobbyist attempted to lobby him."
The report was blasted by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a leading critic of the earmark process.
"Despite the Committees assertion that they talked to 40 companies, 25 member offices and reviewed nearly 250,000 documents, they didn’t find any ties between campaign contributions and earmarked funding," the group said.
"Perhaps that’s because they had about 200 million reasons not to find anything wrong. TCS found that in each of the last three years, members of the Ethics Committee obtained roughly $200 million in earmarks either by themselves or with other lawmakers. So, any finding that revealed the seamy underbelly of thousands of dollars in campaign cash turning into millions of earmarked tax dollars was bound to create a stir for them and the rest of Congress.
"The Ethics committee seems to have taken a “see no evil, here no evil, speak no evil” approach potential earmark quid pro quo, while at the same time recognizing that lobbyists certainly think contributions result in earmarks or special treatment. The idea that lawmakers ignore previous or future campaign contributions flies in the face of political realities and quite frankly common sense."