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[Washington Babylon]

Big Game Hunting with John Murtha

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Check out this story on last week’s raid on properties owned by businessmen close to Congressman John Murtha:

The Tribune-Democrat has learned that federal raids on the businesses and homes of Bill and Ron Kuchera are focused on a potential misuse of corporate funds. Kuchera Industries and Kuchera Defense Systems of Windber were raided by agents from three federal agencies on Thursday as part of an ongoing investigation led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

A source close to the investigation told The Tribune-Democrat that the investigation is focused on the actions of the corporate officers. The source said the investigation is examining the alleged use of corporate funds for unapproved purposes…

Multiple sources have told The Tribune-Democrat that part of the investigation is looking into the financing of LBK Game Ranch in Croyle Township. The 161-acre ranch is a private business owned by CEO Bill Kuchera. Customers at the ranch pay a fee for the opportunity to hunt big game. The ranch, which includes a lodge to house guests, shares the same address as Bill Kuchera’s home.

Records show that the LBK Game Ranch generates estimated annual sales of $150,000. The ranch often is used to entertain Kuchera clients and suppliers. In the fall, LBK Game Ranch was the site of a high-end fundraiser benefiting the campaign of U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Johnstown. Sources tell The Tribune-Democrat that the one-night event raised as much as $100,000.

Now check out the $8.2 million Murtha secured in earmarks for the Kuchera firms for 2008. Also note the $40,000 in lobbying fees that Kuchera Defense Systems paid to Ervin Technical Associates, a lobbying firm that is closely connected to Murtha. And see, too, the tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Murtha from the company’s executives.

It’s not clear where the federal investigation is heading, but it’s pretty obvious how companies bag earmarks from Murtha. It’s also pretty obvious why a few years ago Murtha reportedly described a Democratic plan for ethics reform as “total crap”.

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