If this were a Republican maneuver, they’d be all over this like stink on shit:
House Democratic leaders, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), have ratcheted up the pressure on their rank-and-file members to oppose a resolution calling for an ethics committee investigation into the ties between key Democrats and a controversial defense-lobbying firm.
Democratic leaders have told their members they should let the ethics panel do its work and stop supporting a measure sponsored by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) that calls for an ethics probe into political donations from the now-defunct PMA Group lobbying firm and earmarks its clients received.
With Congress back in session, Democratic leaders plan to lean on their members again this week or next.
The pressure appears to be working. Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Tim Walz (D-Minn.), two of more than two dozen Democrats who supported Flake’s measure in the latest vote, on April 1, are now wavering.
……Even though Kind is reconsidering his support for the Flake measure, he remains deeply concerned about the corruptive influence of earmarks and worries that the party is “on a collision course” on the issue if more reforms are not implemented. He said the issue is so “fraught with landmines” that he has personally expressed his views on earmark reforms to President Obama and other White House staff.
……Kind, a former prosecutor, has voted with Flake against tabling the measure all seven times the Arizona Republican has offered it. Kind and Walz were part of a growing group of centrist or reform-minded Democrats who have voted against leadership’s efforts to kill the resolution when it has come up on the House floor. The measure garnered support from 17 Democrats the first time it was offered, but Democratic defections increased to 27 during the latest vote.
Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), a former member of the ethics committee who now heads the Foreign Affairs Committee, lectured the rank and file against voting for the Flake resolution at a closed-door whip/caucus meeting earlier this month. Kind called the Berman remarks and the unhappy response from himself and several other rank-and-file Democrats “a major discussion.”
“It wasn’t the most pleasant conversation, I will admit that,” Kind recalled.
It is unclear if Pelosi was in the room during Berman’s speech.
When the shoe was on the other foot:
While still in the minority, Pelosi offered a series of privileged resolutions calling attention to Republican ethics issues, including one that would have created a bipartisan task force “to return to ethical rules of the House.” At the time of that measure, the ethics committee was not operating because of several partisan disputes. All of the resolutions were tabled on mainly party lines.
……Pelosi is in a particularly difficult position. Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), a Pelosi ally, has close ties to PMA and its clients, as do Reps. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.) and Jim Moran (D-Va.).
No wonder she’s scared of an investigation. The Democrats, in particular, have their grimy paws all over donations from beneficiaries of earmarks and bailouts.