December 26, 2006
In politics, there is no such thing as pure motives. It is still possible to distinguish politicians with real integrity from the ones who use their office as a brokerage house for trading favors, however. An article in the Washington Post suggests that a charitable program that receives Federal funds thanks to Rep. John Murtha is not quite on the up and up. Murtha, of course, has a senior spot on the House Appropriations Committee and is a close ally of Speaker-to-Be Nancy Pelosi. The Pennsylvania Association for Individuals With Disabilities (PAID) was set up by a former Murtha staffer, Carmen Scialabba.
But the group serves another function as well. PAID has become a gathering point for defense contractors and lobbyists with business before Murtha's defense appropriations subcommittee, and for Pennsylvania businesses and universities that have thrived on federal money obtained by Murtha.
In turn, many of PAID's directors have kept Murtha's campaigns flush with cash.
Well, what do you know?! It appears that many disabled folks are getting jobs, but the efficiency of the spending for that worthy purpose is probably as low as for those police-related charities that telemarketers are always pushing. Glenn Reynolds at first found it odd that the Post chose to publish this item on Christmas Day, suspecting they were trying to bury it, but he later gave them the benefit of the doubt for at least bringing the story to light. I probably would too. For what it's worth, I used to know someone who worked in Murtha's office, and she had a rather low opinion of him.