CREW opposes Murtha

Citing ethics issues, the watchdog group opposes Jack Murtha's run for House majority leader.

Published November 13, 2006 7:09PM (EST)

In our post earlier on Nancy Pelosi's endorsement of Rep. John Murtha for the position of House majority leader, we didn't mention one reason -- besides ideological and alignment differences -- that some Democrats might oppose Murtha's candidacy: He's got a history.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the watchdog group that became embroiled in the Mark Foley scandal a little while back, has put out a press release opposing Murtha and chastising Pelosi for her endorsement of him, saying in the release that "Rep. Murtha has been involved in a number of pay-to-play schemes involving former staffers and his brother, Robert 'Kit' Murtha ... The New York Times reported on October 2, 2006 that he has consistently opposed ethics and earmark reform."

Murtha was also involved in Abscam, the notorious FBI sting operation of the early 1980s. Though Murtha turned down a $50,000 bribe from an FBI agent posing as an Arab businessman, he did provide the undercover agent with advice on where to legally invest his money and failed to report, as he was supposed to under House ethics rules, the bribe offer.

Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director, said in the release that "Future House Speaker Pelosi's endorsement of Rep. Murtha, one of the most unethical members of Congress, shows that she may have prioritized ethics reform merely to win votes with no real commitment to changing the culture of corruption."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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