Could Dirty Money Hurt Jim Moran’s Re-election Prospects?

According to conventional wisdom, Rep. Jim Moran will likely win a comfortable re-election for an eleventh term as congressman for Virginia’s eighth district. But in an anti-incumbent year, any whiff of scandal could prove especially costly.

Enter last month’s guilty plea by former lobbyist Paul Magliocchetti, founder of the now-defunct PMA Group. Magliocchetti pleaded guilty to illegally reimbursing family members and PMA employees for making political contributions.

PMA and its employees funneled at least $150,000 into Moran’s campaign coffers from 1998-2008, according to data compiled by political blogger Ben Tribbett. While the donations were taking place, millions of dollars in defense contracts were awarded to PMA’s clients by Moran and two other Defense Appropriations subcommittee members.

In his 2,200 word post (the first of two parts) Tribbett details PMA’s hiring of former Moran Chief of Staff Melissa Koloszar and the firm’s uncharacteristically generous donation to a state-level candidate: Brian Moran, the congressman’s brother.

Prosecutors concluded that campaigns that received money from PMA employees and Magliocchetti family members did not know it was procured illegally. Still, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a non-partisan government watchdog, has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for additional information in the case.

Could the PMA affair hurt Moran’s re-election prospects? Obviously it doesn’t help, but at this point it doesn’t seem to be getting much traction. Moran’s Republican challenger, Patrick Murray, has done little to press the issue publicly, above and beyond sending an email calling on Moran to donate the money from PMA to charity.

Nonetheless, additional revelations could cause the slow-simmering affair to heat up as election day approaches.

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