What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : HR 1105. (Fiscal 2009 spending) Coburn of Oklahoma amendment that would prohibit funds for being used for certain projects related to a lobbying firm under investigation/On agreeing to the amendment (2009 senate Roll Call 80)
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HR 1105. (Fiscal 2009 spending) Coburn of Oklahoma amendment that would prohibit funds for being used for certain projects related to a lobbying firm under investigation/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 80     Mar 04, 2009
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on an amendment by Tom Coburn, R-Okla., that would prohibit funds from going toward 13 projects that would benefit clients of the PMA Group, a now-defunct lobbying firm that is under investigation for allegedly making illegal campaign contributions.  Some of these projects include a lithium ion battery project, a liquid crystal windows project, renovating Carnegie Mellon University, and renovating a hospital in Pennsylvania. The amendment was offered to the bill that funds most domestic agencies in fiscal 2009.

John McCain, R-Ariz., said PMA Group has had a long history of security money from Congress for their clients, including about $300 million in the fiscal 2008 Defense spending bill.  The company is now under investigation for allegedly using false donors to get around campaign finance laws.

“Why should we approve earmarks from an organization that is clearly in violation of numerous laws, including having the FBI raid them and shut them down?” McCain asked.

Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said Coburn’s amendment presumes guilt before the investigatory process is allowed to run its course.  Additionally, it presumes that the lobbying group’s clients knew about the alleged illegal activity, Inouye said.

“The last thing we in this body should do on matters such as this is rush to judgment. Yes, we know the firm was raided by the FBI, and we also know the firm is in the process of being disbanded, but we also know no one from the firm has been convicted of any crime. In fact, as far as we know, no one has even been indicted for a crime. Further, there is nothing to suggest that the clients themselves are being investigated, much less guilty of some Federal offense. There has been absolutely no indication by anyone involved in the actual investigation that any of the clients of the PMA firm were involved in any illicit activity,” Inouye said.

By a vote of 43-52, the amendment was rejected.  All but two Republicans present voted for the amendment.  All but six Democrats present voted against the amendment.  The end result is that the measure went forward with funding intact for projects secured by a lobbying firm that is under investigation for corruption.

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