Update: The Mollohan news just keeps coming.
New Porkbuster slogan at the end of the post!
Roll Call (subscription required) reports this morning that Alan Mollohan broke House rules in soliciting people to bankroll a trip to Spain for him, his wife, and staff. They also report on earmarks and contributions that look pretty bad. I would highlight the relationships between donations and earmarks, but the entire article would be in italics.
W.Va. Firms Footed Mollohan Trip
May 8, 2006
By John Bresnahan,
Roll Call Staff
Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), his wife and two top aides took a five-day trip to Spain in June 2004 that was paid for by a group of government contractors for whom Mollohan steered tens of millions of dollars in earmarked funds, according to travel records and other documents.
The trip sponsor listed on travel disclosure forms is the “West Virginia (WV)-01 Trade Delegation,” which Mollohan’s office described as an “ad hoc group” of 19 government contractors and West Virginia-based nonprofits that came together to pay for the trip. The total cost of the trip for Mollohan, his wife and aides was $7,874.
Mollohan’s 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 Virginia’s economy.
In a statement, Mollohan said his trip to Spain was proper and in accordance with House ethics regulations.
“In June 2004, I led a delegation of West Virginia high-tech companies to Bilbao, Spain to pursue collaborative opportunities with the high-tech businesses and associations in that region,” Mollohan said in the statement. “The trade mission was fully disclosed in complete compliance with all House rules and guidelines...”
But the details of the Bilbao trip fully illustrate the political and potential legal challenges Mollohan now faces.
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. Those organizations, through their employees, then donated more than $160,000 to his re-election campaign or political action committee during the 2003-04 election cycle.
One of those companies, a West Virginia high-tech firm called TMC Technologies, issued a July 28, 2004, press release stating that it “was invited by Congressman Alan B. Mollohan to participate in a trade mission to the Biscay region of Spain,” which includes Bilbao.
Under House regulations for privately funded travel, Members are specifically prohibited from soliciting sponsored trips.
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.
TMC, which had a $50,000 contract in 2003 with a nonprofit run by one of Mollohan’s former aides and current business partners, has contributed heavily to his political committees. TMC officials and its employees donated more than $39,000 to Mollohan’s re-election campaign and leadership PAC during the 2003-04 election cycle.
Like TMC, many of the companies that paid for the Spain trip are also sponsors of the Robert T. Mollohan Family Charitable Foundation, named after the Congressman’s late father.
The Robert T. Mollohan Family Charitable Foundation sponsors an annual charity golf tournament; this year’s event is scheduled for Sept. 5 at the Pete Dye Golf Club in Bridgeport, W.Va. Mollohan has declined to reveal how much each company donated to the foundation, but the amount raised by the organization totaled $1.35 million during a three-year period, according to the foundation’s tax records.
Wade Linger, TMC’s president, said the company’s press release regarding the Bilbao trip was in error, although he and another TMC employee did take part in the excursion.
“If TMC issued a press release stating it was invited by Congressman Mollohan to participate in the the Spain mission, then that would have been an overstatement,” Linger said in a statement. “But the invitation did not actually come from Congressman Mollohan.”
Linger added: “The relationship between TMC officials and Mr. Mollohan is that TMC officials are constituents who live and work in Mr. Mollohan’s Congressional district.”
TMC ended up contributing $2,500 to the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation to help pay the costs of Mollohan’s junket, according to Linger. As a nonprofit group, the foundation is allowed to pay for Congressional travel...
Another company that had a representative on the trip was FMW Composite Systems. A recent Wall Street Journal article highlighted the relationship between Mollohan and the CEO of FMW, Dale McBride, whom Mollohan has described as a life-long friend.
Mollohan and McBride purchased a 300-acre farm together in West Virginia in May 2005. In December 2005, FMW won a $2.1 million NASA contract from a program funded through a Mollohan earmark.
Other companies or organizations that helped underwrite the trip to Spain have benefited from Mollohan’s assistance as well.
ManTech International Corp., a Fairfax, Va., defense contractor, shared in an $8.2 million contract that Mollohan secured.
The National Technology Transfer Center, officially known as the Robert C. Byrd National Technology Transfer Center after the state’s senior Senator, founded what it calls the Alan B. Mollohan Business Accelerator Program in 2003. From 2001 to 2004, Mollohan helped steer more than $2 million in federal grants and contracts to the center from the Justice Department, NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency.
ProLogic, Inc., of Fairmont, W.Va., a software company, got $670,000 from NASA in 2004, thanks to Mollohan.
Morgantown-based Azimuth Inc. won a $20 million contract from the Department of Homeland Security this year. Azimuth provides electronics and software engineering support services. Azimuth’s “mentor” firm, Electronic Warfare Associates, is a large defense contractor.
D.N. American, an information technology services company in Fairmont, W.Va., received funding out of a $3 million earmark by Mollohan for recycling programs via the Energy Department. The funding was announced in January 2004.
Other organizations represented on the 2004 trip include: Braun Technology; DSD Laboratories Inc., now known as Backbone Security; Galaxy Global Corp.; Information Research Corp.; Lockheed Martin; SAIC; Touchstone Research Laboratory Ltd.; Vandalia Heritage Foundation; and the Vandalia Redevelopment Corp.
Wow. Alan Mollohan had better have a great relationship with his constituents, because this doesn't look good. He really needs to come clean very soon. It will hurt that this information hits the papers a few weeks after the initial report from the Wall Street Journal. The "Robert T. Mollohan Family Charitable Foundation" is likely to have to open its records eventually; it's sure to be another blow at Mollohan when that happens. Mollohan's political career is now in jeopardy. If I were he, I would make sure that everything which will eventually come out, comes out now. That'll give him more time to rebuild ties with his constituents - to the extent that's possible.
This all suggests a new slogan for Porkbusters: "Earmarks: Look What They're Doing for Alan Mollohan!" The Appropriators could wind up the biggest backers of reform!
Mollohan's primary is tomorrow, May 9. He is unchallenged.
Back to the top.