House Ethics Committee clears 7 in PMA probe

A House ethics panel has cleared seven members of Congress of ethics violations in a probe of defense lobbying and corporate influence peddling.

Cleared were Reps. Todd Tiahrt of Kansas, Norman Dicks of Washington, Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, James Moran of Virginia, the late John Murtha of Pennsylvania, Bill Young of Florida, and Peter Visclosky of Indiana.

In announcing its findings, the committee concluded that there had been no violation of “any law, regulation, rule or other applicable standard of conduct.”

The existence of the probe was first reported in October after supposedly secret files were found on the Internet.

The representatives were being examined in connection with their work obtaining earmarks for clients of an influential lobbying firm known as the PMA Group.

The PMA Group, which has now closed, allegedly was part of a pay-for-play operation in which the firm and its clients benefited from billions of dollars in earmarks in exchange for campaign contributions.

After its nine-month review, the ethics panel — formally known as the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct — determined that none of the members under review, which included five Democrats and two Republicans, had violated “any provision of the Code of Official Conduct.”