Jeff Flake is a Republican and a Congressman. But that hasn't stopped him from exposing the corrupt practices of the House of representatives. There are still some politicians in Washington that take seriously their oath of office to serve the people of America. Following is the eye opening speech given on the House floor yesterday:
Mr. FLAKE. Madam Speaker, yesterday I introduced a privileged resolution here in the House which asked the Ethics Committee to look into the relationship between campaign contributions and earmarks. This has been a problem, as we know, for a long time but it was brought to a head just recently when a lobby firm, a powerhouse lobby firm that had $14 million in revenue just last year, it was revealed that they were being investigated by the FBI.
This firm was quite prominent. It passed a lot of campaign contributions to Members here on Capitol Hill. In return, clients of this lobbying firm received in one defense appropriation bill $300 million. So it was quite lucrative for this firm obviously to do what it was doing.
Anyway, it was revealed that the FBI was investigating this firm, and within days, the firm completely imploded. It has dissolved. One week or so after it was revealed, it's gone, but the damage has been wrought to the dignity and decorum of this House. We sit here today all under suspicion because a firm spread so many campaign contributions around, and many earmarks were received. And no matter what the intent was or the motive here, the appearance of this does not reflect well on the dignity
and decorum of the House.
We have to remember that most of the earmarks sought by this firm, this firm that is now under investigation, are for for-profit entities, private businesses. These earmarks are essentially no-bid contracts. A Member of Congress will simply say, I want an earmark for this firm. Maybe it might be in his district, it might not, but it's a private, for-profit-making company, getting a Federal contract without scrutiny otherwise, with nothing and no other bids. Nobody else can bid on it.
Here, let me just step back for a second. One thing that is unbelievable here is we will be considering an omnibus appropriation bill, a $410 billion bill, tomorrow. We received a list of the earmarks that will be in that bill yesterday. So I think within 36 hours or so of receiving the list of 9,000 earmarks, we will be considering the bill.
Now, we have had rules in this House, and good rules, passed which stipulate that we have transparency, that we are supposed to be given notice of these earmarks well in advance. I would submit that 36 hours for 9,000 is hardly transparency, but even if it were, transparency has to be followed by accountability. Accountability means that somebody should be able to stand up and challenge any of these earmarks, to challenge whether or not a for-profit entity, a company in somebody's district, ought
to be getting a sole-source contract by a Member, with no scrutiny by other Members of this body. I cannot come to the floor tomorrow, nor can any other Member, and challenge any of these earmarks, to look at the relationship between earmarks, campaign contributions, or to simply say is this a good use of Federal spending.
Then we found that--add insult to injury, 9,000 earmarks with minimal notice--we found that the PMA Group, who lobbied for many earmarks in last year's defense bill the year before that, clients of the PMA Group received as many as up to a dozen earmarks in this omnibus appropriation bill that we'll be considering tomorrow. Let me say that again. A firm under investigation by Federal authorities, for what might be misused or mishandled campaign contributions to Members of Congress, clients of
that firm are receiving earmarks in the appropriation bill that we'll be passing tomorrow, and not one Member here has the ability to go in and challenge a single one of those earmarks. It's take-it-or-leave-it on the whole bill, one vote at the end, take-it-or-leave-it, no ability to challenge. That simply isn't right, Madam Speaker. That's not right.
That's why we need the Ethics Committee to take a look at this. We know from press reports that somebody's taking a look at it. Politico reported on February 12 that, ``Several sources said FBI agents have spent months laying the groundwork for their current investigation, including conducting research on earmarks and campaign contributions.''
Now, we may not want to look at it, but the Justice Department is. We have the obligation here to uphold the dignity and decorum of the House. Our standard should not be investigations, convictions, and imprisonment. It ought to be what upholds the dignity of the House. Let's pass this resolution.