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House Blocks Flake’s Earmark Investigation

The House curtailed Rep. Jeff Flake’s (R-Ariz.) attempt Wednesday to force an ethics investigation into the relationship between earmark requests and campaign contributions, which he sought in response to the ongoing federal investigation into the PMA Group.

As expected, the House voted largely along party lines to table the motion, which Flake brought to the floor as a privileged resolution.

“We have the obligation here to uphold the dignity and decorum of the House,” Flake said on the House floor Tuesday. He did not have an opportunity to speak about the resolution Wednesday. “Our standard should not be investigations, convictions and imprisonment. It ought to be what upholds the dignity of the House.”

The FBI raided PMA Group’s offices in November, apparently part of an investigation of campaign contributions made by people identified as PMA employees. The lobbying shop focused primarily on defense appropriations earmarks.

“This firm was quite prominent,” Flake said Tuesday. “It passed a lot of campaign contributions to Members here on Capitol Hill. In return, clients of this lobbying firm received in one defense appropriation bill $300 million. So it was quite lucrative for this firm obviously to do what it was doing.”

Earlier in the week, Flake criticized the inclusion of a handful of earmarks for PMA clients in the 2009 omnibus appropriations bill, worth a total of approximately $8 million.

The House passed the omnibus spending bill, 245-178, immediately before voting on Flake’s resolution.

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