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Democrats' former face of ethics under scrutiny by FBI for real estate, nonprofit deals

RAW STORY
Published: Tuesday April 25, 2006

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Twelve-term House Democrat Alan Mollohan (D-WV) -- who just recently stepped down as the ranking Democrat on the House Ethics Committee -- is now facing scrutiny from the FBI in West Virginia and Washington in a probe seeking to ascertain whether the congressman improperly steered federal funds to personal projects, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday's page one.

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Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have begun asking questions in Washington and West Virginia about the lawmaker's holdings and whether they were properly disclosed, according to people who have been contacted in recent days. Such investigations often end with no charges filed, and Rep. Mollohan has not been formally accused of misconduct.

Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV)bought a 300-acre farm with the head of a small defense contractor that had won a $2.1 million contract from funds that the congressman added to a 2005 spending bill last year. 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. It raises new questions about possible conflicts of interest by Rep. Mollohan and his use of such spending.

Over the past five years, Rep. Mollohan steered more than $200 million to a network of nonprofit groups in West Virginia, including more than $20 million in the latest fiscal year, often through narrow spending provisions known as earmarks. The Wall Street Journal reported in an April 7 story that executives of these groups and companies had contributed regularly to Rep. Mollohan's campaigns and to his family foundation. They included at least two people who were partners with the lawmaker in various real-estate investments.

The congressman rejects any link between his investments and earmarks that he says he has backed to create jobs and economic opportunity in West Virginia. "Any claim whatsoever that these investments are in any way related to my actions as a member of Congress is categorically false," he said last week.

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