Thursday, April 30, 2009

Speaker Pelosi Asked to Intercede in Congressional Turf War Over Mortgage, Senate Seat, and Defense Contracting Rackets

Washington, D.C.--Democrat leaders urged Speaker Nancy Pelosi to intercede after a congressional turf war erupted over congressional control of rackets in mortgages, Senate seats, and defense contracting.

Taxpayer money is being appropriated faster than bookies on the House Ways & Means Committee can process it, and their chairman, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), has been distracted by an ethics investigation regarding his failure to pay federal income taxes. The result is a rare breakdown in business as usual and a struggle for control over what scarce private funds remain in the economy.

The gangland rivalry began when Rep. Jesse Jackson (D-IL) called defense contracting “a dirty business” and threatened to divert lobbyist donations from a defense project in Rep. Jack Murtha’s (D-PA) district to Jackson’s Senate seat gambling operations in Chicago.

Rep. Murtha, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, struck back. The next day Jackson received a jackass’s ear in an inter-office envelope. “It was an appropriator message,” said a source. “It means your earmark sleeps with the donkeys at the bottom of the canyon.”

The situation escalated when Jackson found his Senate seat reduced to a smoldering pile by weapons the Pentagon had long rejected as unnecessary. And it reached a head when the loss of the Senate seat cost Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) leverage in negotiations over a conference report involving housing bailout policies. Dodd retaliated, and Murtha saw his mortgage rate skyrocket.

The next day, Speaker Pelosi called an emergency meeting of the congressional families. According to sources, Pelosi told those assembled that “vengeance won’t bring your earmark back,” and she admonished them to maintain the peace, saying “There’s enough taxpayer money for everyone as long as we don’t draw unwanted attention.”

But attention became impossible to avoid as family members, for the first time, broke the “code of silence” -- a family agreement to keep secrets that was employed most recently in a federal criminal prosecution when the Justice Department refused to give exculpatory information to lawyers for Republican Senator Ted Stevens.

Since then, word has leaked that Dodd’s Connecticut and Washington, D.C. homes were refinanced to below-market rates by a mortgage company under the jurisdiction of his banking committee. Dodd has insisted he was unaware being on the company’s “V.I.P list” meant he was receiving special treatment, saying “V.I.P? I thought the gesture was in honor of my late godfather, Vespaciano Ignacio Pasquini.”

Dodd has also come under scrutiny for authoring a provision in the federal spending bill that allows bailed-out companies to pay huge bonuses while receiving taxpayer dollars. He expressed dismay at the popular uproar that followed, saying “This isn’t personal. It’s business. Or government. Or business controlled by government. Capiche?”

The latest controversy surfaced when family members began questioning whether Murtha, along with Reps. Jim Moran (D-VA) and Peter Viscosky (D-IN), had steered $250 million in defense appropriations to clients of the PMA Group and KSA Consulting, which employed Murtha’s brother Robert.

“That’s my family,” Murtha said. “It’s not me.”

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