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CQ reports on the latest earmark scandal:

More than 100 House members secured earmarks in a major spending bill for clients of a single lobbying firm — The PMA Group — known for its close ties to John P. Murtha , the congressman in charge of Pentagon appropriations.

….PMA’s offices have been raided, and the firm closed its political action committee last week amid reports that the FBI is investigating possibly illegal campaign contributions to Murtha and other lawmakers.

No matter what the outcome of the federal investigation, PMA’s earmark success illustrates how a well-connected lobbying firm operates on Capitol Hill. And earmark accountability rules imposed by the Democrats in 2007 make it possible to see how extensively PMA worked the Hill for its clients.

Now that’s how the game is played: 100 congressmen, $300 million in spending, and $1 million in campaign contributions.  And it might even be illegal!  Or not.  But while we’re waiting to find out, click here if you’re curious to see if your congress critter was involved.

UPDATE: Stuart Staniford, who obviously has way too much time on his hands, sends along a scattergram of earmarks vs. campaign contributions that demonstrates the difference between Democratic and Republican corruption: “Republicans apparently do this stuff pretty much for a small flat fee (on average) but Democrats need to be paid about 1/2 cent on the dollar.”  Coincidence?  Science says no!

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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