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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
Estimated number of genetically modified mosquitoes released since 2012 to combat dengue and chikungunya:
In Brazil, a herpetologist reported seeing a male black-and-white tegu copulate with a dead female. “I felt a sense of wonder,” he said.
Florida state officials announced plans to patrol Palm Beach County four to six times a month in order to kill five-foot-long lizards that are presumed to be responsible for a drop in the population of feral cats and the disappearance of a number of Dachshund puppies.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”