Murtha and Lott Spur Leadership Bids Spark Controversy
John Murtha is charging his Democratic critics of Swift Boat tactics for pointing out multiple ethical questions surrounding his candidacy for House Majority Leader.
Rep. John Murtha, the anti-war congressman who is the likely new House speaker’s pick for majority leader, fended off what he called “swift boat-style attacks” on his ethics record Tuesday.
In routing the GOP in the November 7 elections, Democrats attacked what they called a Republican “culture of corruption.”
Now a Washington watchdog group is questioning the party’s sincerity, alleging Murtha steered Pentagon contracts to businesses that hired his brother as a lobbyist. “How can Americans believe that the Democrats will return integrity to the House when future Speaker Pelosi has endorsed an ethically challenged member for a leadership position?” Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, asked in a written statement. “Rep. Murtha is the wrong choice for this job.” Murtha told ABC in October that his brother “was treated like everybody else.”
Murtha also turned up in the FBI’s Abscam investigation in 1980, when undercover agents offered bribes to several members of Congress. Murtha was videotaped turning down a bribe “at this point,” and he was not charged.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Murtha — who just won an 18th term — blasted critics who raised concerns about “unfounded allegations that occurred 26 years ago.” “I thought we were above this type of swift-boating attack,” he said, referring to the largely refuted but widely publicized attacks on Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry’s military record in 2004. “This is not how we restore integrity and civility to the United States Congress.”
Nor is it how we turn back a “culture of corruption.”
Of course, the Republicans would be in a better position if they were not about to re-elect two thirds of the House leadership team that blew it so badly. And, inexplicably, considering bringing Trent Lott back on the Senate side. It’s rather hard to claim that the party has changed when presenting the same old faces who got them where they are now.