Magliocchetti takes the fall
At first glance this title looks like the end game in a gangster movie, but I guess Paul Magliocchetti is in fact a gangster of a different sort…..the kind that has risen to the top of the political class on K Street in Washington, or “lobbyist row” as some may characterize it. Mr. Magliocchetti, or “Mags” to some, is a key player in the BRAC Initiative Agreement sweetheart deal that apparently transferred $1.9 million from Greene County and Ohio citizens to the political class.
In March 2009, super-star lobbyist Paul Magliocchetti and protégé of powerful (and deceased) Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha closed his PMA Group, once one of the most potent lobbying firms inside the beltway. PMA abruptly headed south shortly after November 2008 when federal agents raided PMA’s offices and began an investigation leading to Magliocchetti pleading guilty on three charges:
- Making illegal corporate contributions,
- Illegally funneling money to dozens of congressmen through surrogates who Magliocchetti later reimbursed, and
- Causing dozens of political committees to file inaccurate disclosure reports with the Federal Election Commission.
The third item on that hit-list deserves a closer look. First, it is an understatement; although when filed, the disclosure reports were inaccurate we now know that they were illegal contributions. Apparently dozens of congressmen were duped into breaking the law. You would think the Department of Justice and the Federal Election Commission would go back to their cronies in the political class and warn them that they should be more careful of those wily lobbyists who may expect something in return for funneling illegal contributions into the campaigns of naïve, innocent public servants. Well of course the DOJ and FEC notified the campaigns that received the illegal contributions, and many members of congress returned the illegal donations from Magliocchetti and the co-conspirators associated with PMA, or gave them to charity. However, the Federal Election Commission disclosure data base does not indicate that Dave Hobson and Steve Austria (former Representatives to Congress from the Ohio 7th District) returned theirs.
However, the FEC disclosure data base does reveal that Jon Walker and John Pugliese on at least two occasions made illegal contributions to both Hobson and Austria. Bag-men Walker and Pugliese were not the only PMA co-conspirators advancing the political careers of Dave Hobson and Steve Austria. PMA lobbyist Briggs Shade was right there with Mr. and Mrs. Austria on the Dayton Development Coalition’s Wright Patt 2010 Committee. You may recall that Eileen Austria was Dave Hobson’s District Director before Hobson retired and greased the skids for Steve to replace him. The quid pro quo is crystal clear:
- Coalition CEO J.P. Nauseef gets nearly $300,000 a year to supervise a couple dozen overpaid feather merchants and a few interns,
- Sam Greenwood and his Greentree Group are non-competitively awarded the $1.9 million BRAC Initiative Agreement by Greene County Commissioners Reid, Harper and Madden,
- Convicted felon Paul Magliocchetti, Briggs Shade and their PMA Group strike a deal with the Coalition that pays PMA over a half million dollars over precisely the same period of performance as the BRAC Initiative Agreement,
- Dave Hobson and Steve Austria get tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions, some of which were illegal and apparently never returned.
We shouldn’t be surprised that after all this everyone walked except Paul Magliocchetti and his son, and John Pugliese who died of an apparent suicide less than two months after Magliocchetti was indicted. As of March 14, 2013 twenty-eight of 33 former PMA lobbyists are still stalking the halls of Congress scrounging for earmarks for their clients. If you think that is outrageous, you are not alone. At Magliocchetti’s sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis observed, “I’m a bit dismayed that the government does not pursue all of these cases with the same vigor.” Although “a bit dismayed” seems somewhat subdued, at least Judge Ellis confirmed what many of us believed for years…..not only has the Department of Justice gone missing on prosecuting the chief perpetrators who broke campaign finance laws, the U.S. House Ethics Committee and the Federal Election Commission have failed to hold members of congress accountable to the same laws that put Paul Magliocchetti in prison for 27 months.
OCGJ’s investigation has discovered no evidence that Dave Hobson and Steve Austria forfeited illegal campaign contributions from PMA operatives, but if they have it’s time they step forward and reveal how and when they did so. Then, when and if that happens, perhaps they can also explain why state and federal prosecutors shouldn’t open an independent investigation on other alleged crimes and misdemeanors related to the Dayton Development Coalition’s secretive scheme’s to spread the wealth from the citizens to the political class.
- Allison, Bill, As earmark lobbyist gets out of jail, former colleagues still on the trail, Sunlight Foundation blog, March 14, 2013.
- Kirkpatrick, David and Savage, Charlie, Star Lobbyist Closes Shop Amid F.B.I. Inquiry, The New York Times, March 29, 2009.
- Yachnin, Jennifer, Report: Former PMA Board Member Commits Suicide, Roll Call, October 28, 2010.
- Yachnin, Jennifer, PMA Founder Magliocchetti Sentenced, Roll Call, January 7, 2011.