John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Reality Show

Posted on April 21, 2009

Reality Show


            The former Governor of Illinois has petitioned a judge to allow him to participate in an NBC reality show, kind of a celebrity version of “Survivor”, set in the jungles of Costa Rica.


            Apparently, Rod Blagojevich has decided that the best way to repair his tattered image is to become a laughingstock.  Well, it’s a strategy.


            But there is a different kind of reality show playing out in the halls of Congress.


            On the front pages of the New York Times today, there was this story: “One of the leading House Democrats on intelligence matters was overheard on telephone calls intercepted by the National Security Agency agreeing to seek lenient treatment from the Bush administration for two pro-Israel lobbyists who were under investigation for espionage, current and former government officials say. The lawmaker, Representative Jane Harman of California, became the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee after the 2002 election and had ambitions to be its chairwoman when the party gained control of the House in 2006. One official who has seen transcripts of several wiretapped calls said she appeared to agree to intercede in exchange for help in persuading party leaders to give her the powerful post.”


            And CBS News reported this about John Murtha, “CBS News has learned that this month, Murtha is steering new earmarks toward 10 companies that recently donated to his campaign. 

Murtha wants $8 million for Argon ST, a defense contractor whose CEO gave Murtha the maximum allowed by law - $2,400 by an individual. He's directing a $5 million earmark toward Advanced Acoustic Concepts, which also gave the max - $5,000 for a political action committee - to his campaign. In all, 10 recent Murtha donors are slated to receive $31 million in Murtha earmarks for 2010. 

Taxpayer watchdogs may not like how it looks, but it's not against the law unless donations were required in order to receive the earmarks. Looking for evidence of wrongdoing, the FBI has recently raided offices of two other companies linked to Murtha. 

"The sooner it gets to a bright line that's a direct connection of 'you give me money, you're going to get taxpayer dollars,' that's when you really cross the line," said Steve Ellis, with Taxpayers for Common Sense. 

That line was crossed in one case, according to a defense contractor who spoke to us on condition of anonymity for fear of losing government contracts. 

The contractor was set to receive $1 million tax dollars. He said the military told him the money would come through a company called Commonwealth Research Institute, whose parent company, Concurrent Technologies, ranked among the largest earmark recipients. Both were set up with Murtha's help in his own hometown. The defense contractor said Commonwealth officials told him to get the money, he should "consider opening an office" in Johnstown, Murtha's hometown, and chided his company for not giving "enough campaign contributions to Murtha," and not making "a showing at Murtha's annual defense contractor fair."


            Nancy Pelosi promised that under her rule, the House would be the most ethical in history.  That must have been some kind of joke.


            There are reality shows and then there is reality.  And the reality is that Mrs. Pelosi’s house is not in order.