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Group of government contractors that received earmarks paid for senior Democrat's trip to Spain

RAW STORY
Published: Monday May 8, 2006

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According to travel records, Congressman Alan Mollohan (D-W VA) took his wife and two staff members to Spain in a trip funded by an "ad-hoc group" of government contractors who may have been rewarded with millions of dollars in earmarked funds, reports Roll Call, RAW STORY has found.

"West Virginia companies and organizations that rely on Mollohan and his seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee paid for the trip and sent representatives along to accompany him," writes John Bresnahan.

"Those organizations, through their employees, then donated more than $260,000 to his re-election campaign or political action committee during the 2003-04 election cycle," the article continues.

On April 21, Mollohan stepped down from his position as Ranking Minority Member of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. But the Democratic Congressman admitted no wrongdoing in a letter to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (link) that pegged the allegations and charges as little more than a partisan political attack.

"As you are aware, over the past two weeks I have been subjected to a concerted, politically motivated attack on my ethics that has been fomented by an ultra-conservative organization in Washington," Mollohan wrote.

At the time, Mollohan was "confident" that the allegations had no merit.

"While I am confident that any charges or allegations that this organization and its Republican allies make against me will be as meritless and, indeed, as frivolous as those they have made thus far, they must be responded to fully," continued Mollohan.

Days later, a report that the West Virginia Congressman purchased a firm with the chief executive officer of a firm that garnered a $2.1 million government contract off of a Mollohan earmark appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal (link).

"The joint purchase of the farm, which sits on the Cheat River in West Virginia, is the most direct tie yet disclosed between Rep. Mollohan and a beneficiary of the federal spending he has steered toward his home state," the Wall Street Journal reported. "It raises new questions about possible conflicts of interest by Rep. Mollohan and his use of such spending."

Sunday, on a morning talk show, DNC chairman Howard Dean said that, like Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), he would urge Mollohan to step down if indicted (link).

"Unlike the Republicans, our leader, Nancy Pelosi, particularly asked investigators for an ethics investigation of Congressman Jefferson," Dean said.

Excerpts from Monday's Roll Call article:

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Mollohanís trip to Spain was arranged by the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation, a nonprofit organization Mollohan created back in 1990. Mollohan has helped steer more than $30 million in federal funds to the foundation as part of his overall effort to revitalize West Virginiaís economy.

In a statement, Mollohan said his trip to Spain was proper and in accordance with House ethics regulations.

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Just a month before the trip, TMC Technologies announced that it had received a $5 million contract from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration thanks to a Mollohan earmark. In 2003, TMC Technologies received a $2 million NOAA contact, also via a Mollohan earmark.

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