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Over the past five years, a local defense contractor with close ties to Rep. John P. Murtha, a Democrat who has represented southwestern Pennsylvania for three decades, has selected several small police departments in the region to receive $10 million in Justice Department grants. The company, Mountaintop Technologies, was selected by the lawmaker in a series of earmarks to hand out and monitor the grants. As it distributed the money to the departments, the firm would explain each time that it was arriving through the largess of Murtha — often just before fall elections…
The tale of how a defense company ended up getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to distribute federal police grants is a chapter in a larger story of Mountaintop Technologies, its far-flung operations and its dependence on Murtha. The Johnstown firm has received at least $36 million in the past eight years in earmarks and military contracts, without competition and with the backing of Murtha, the powerful chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee. It also hired the lobbying firm where Murtha’s brother worked.
(I reported on Mountaintop, its lobbyists, and its ties to Murtha in a 2005 story for the Los Angeles Times).
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
Percentage increase in the annual number of polio cases in Pakistan since 2005:
A bowl of 4,000-year-old noodles was found in northwestern China; and a spokesman for the Chinese Academy of Sciences said that “this is the earliest empirical evidence of noodles ever found.”
A federal judge sentenced the journalist Barrett Brown to 63 months in prison for sharing a link to information stolen from the private-intelligence firm Stratfor by a hacker in 2011. “Good news!” Brown said in a statement. “They’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex.”
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