Donations from defense lobbyist PMA Group were a family affair

By Carol Eisenberg

March 16, 2009 at 9:00am

PMA Group was once one of the biggest lobbying firms in Washington, specializing in securing defense earmarks for its clients.

Now the firm is under federal investigation for allegedly making donations to lawmakers in return for earmarks for its clients. And a remarkably large share of those donations turn out to have been a family affair.

Paul Magliocchetti, the firm’s founder, and a former aide to top defense appropriator John Murtha of Pennsylvania, donated $355,000 to the campaign chests of lawmakers, political action committees and political parties from 2000 to 2008, according to an analysis by Congressional Quarterly.

In addition to Magliocchetti, nine of his relatives - two children, his daughter-in-law, his current wife, his ex-wife and his ex-wife’s parents, sister and brother-in-law - donated a total of $1.5 million to political campaigns in that nine-year period, according to the analysis.

During those same years, the firm grew into a Washington powerhouse, succeeding in winning billions of dollars in federal contracts for its clients, among them, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and the Boeing Company.

No charges have been filed yet against the Virginia-based firm, which was raided by federal authorities in November, and which is reportedly disbanding, with many of its top lobbyists and clients going to other shops.

Of course, family members weren’t the only contributors that PMA leveraged on behalf of its clients. Employees and clients donated millions more to members of the House Defense Appropriations Committee. (And all but one of the family members who made contributions were recorded as working for the firm in campaign finance reports, although most also were listed as having other employers.)

The top beneficiaries of the family’s donations were key Democrats on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, allies of Murtha, and the company’s own political action committee, which made contributions to many of the same lawmakers.

Among lawmakers, Rep. Peter J. Visclosky of Indiana received the most: $138,500 to his congressional campaign committee and his leadership political action committee, which is called Calumet PAC.

The family gave more than $75,000 each to the campaign committees of Murtha, James P. Moran of Virginia and former Sen. John Sununu of New Hampshire.

Murtha’s Democratic allies who were not members of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee also received the family’s donations, including Mike Doyle and Tim Holden of Pennsylvania, Michael E. Capuano of Massachusetts, Bill Pascrell Jr. of New Jersey and Loretta Sanchez of California.

The family also gave $49,500 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and $37,363 to the campaign of Sen. Bill Nelson.

According to CQ, the family’s donations from 2000 to 2008 break down as follows:

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