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Visclosky, Facing PMA Probe, Pays $100,000 in Legal Fees

Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) emptied his campaign coffers of $100,000 to pay legal fees in the third quarter of 2009, making him the only Member closely tied to the now-defunct lobbying firm PMA Group to report significant legal fees this cycle.

The Indiana lawmaker announced in May that his offices and aides had been subpoenaed by federal investigators examining the lawmaker’s relationship with PMA. FBI agents raided PMA’s office in November 2008, reportedly as part of an investigation of improper campaign contributions.

In addition, the House ethics committee announced its own investigation of “certain, specific allegations— related to PMA in mid-June, although it has not named any lawmakers in connection to the probe or even which House rules it is examining.

Visclosky has received consent from the Federal Election Commission to pay legal fees related to the subpoenas from his campaign funds, including attorneys’ fees for current and former staffers.

Visclosky reported two payments of $50,000 each to the law firm Steptoe & Johnson since July, according to his most recent FEC report.

In the first half of the year Visclosky had reported about $1,900 in payments to Perkins Coie, a firm often employed by Congressional Democrats seeking assistance with campaign finance compliance.

Other lawmakers with connections to PMA, including Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Chairman John Murtha (D-Pa.) and panel member Jim Moran (D-Va.) — reported little or no payment for legal services in the current cycle.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Murtha, Moran and Visclosky, also a Defense appropriator, received about $4.8 million in campaign contributions over the past decade from PMA and its clients. The lawmakers helped those clients secure tens of millions of dollars in targeted projects during that period.

Murtha’s re-election campaign has reported payments in 2009 totaling $2,800 to Perkins Coie for “operating expenses/legal fees,— as well as about $800 to the firm from his Majority political action committee.

Moran’s campaign lists payments to the McLean, Va.-based Waverly Group totaling about $5,000 this year for both “operating expenses/legal fees— as well as another “operating expenses/FEC compliance & related services.—

Rep. Norm Dicks (Wash.), the third-ranking Democrat on the Appropriations panel, reported no payments for legal fees, but lists about $8,000 for compliance and accounting services.

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