Of shoddy combat helmets and Democratic corruption

This story may or may not become big news. But it certainly says a lot about the earmark culture on Capitol Hill.

A contractor, beneficiary of an earmark that the lobbyist group with close ties to John Murtha got for them, produced combat helmets so shoddy that the military has recalled 34,000 of them.

The lobbyists, PMA Group, is mostly identified with Murtha but also garnered an astonishing number of earmarks from other lawmakers from both parties. They are now under investigation by the FBI for illegal campaign contributions among other transgressions.

PMA Group Watch has the details:

The Army has issued a recall of more than 34,000 advanced-combat helmets that failed ballistics tests, a move certain to attract scrutiny on Capitol Hill.

But an added element of intrigue that may also catch lawmakers' attention is the firm that lobbied on behalf of the helmet's manufacturer: the PMA Group.

Gentex Corp. in Carbondale, Pa., manufactures those helmets and is based in Rep. Chris Carney's (D) district. Gentex has received earmarks sponsored by the lawmaker in recent years. In the 2008 defense appropriations bill, for example, Carney and Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) earmarked $2.7 million for improved performance for helmet displays and life support technologies . . .

The PMA Group and its lobbyists were the top contributors to Carney's reelection campaign, pitching in $41,500, according to data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics. The same data indicate that Gentex was Carney's fifth campaign contributor.

Way to go, Carney and Casey. Thank goodness they were around to steer that earmark; otherwise that $2.7 million could have gone to some other firm that makes helmets that are actually up to standards.

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