PMA Update: The Soup Thickens

There’s a little more flavor in the brewing scandal surrounding the lobbying firm PMA Group, which the FBI raided last November.

“Get me some oysters! Get me some steamed crabs! Get me a rack of lamb!” That’s Paul Magliocchetti, the firm’s founder, addressing the chefs at his D.C.-area restaurant, the Alpine, according to a New York Times account this morning.

Yes, the superlobbyist co-owned a restaurant at which he regularly entertained members of Congress.  Indeed, sources tell the paper that Magliocchetti – “Mags,” as his nickname read on his private wine locker at the power-broker redoubt Capital Grille – “for decades. . . sought loopholes to shower food, drink and gifts” on lawmakers and their staff, at his restaurant and elsewhere.

As long as PMA’s troubles simmer in their own pot, things are fine for most of Washington.  But some are beginning to fear those troubles will boil over, if investigators (or investigative reporters) can find evidence of illegal influence or favors between PMA’s lobbyists and the lawmakers they courted so aggressively. (So far, of course, nothing has surfaced. A spokseman for Mags said his client "carefully complied" with all applicable rules and laws.)

“All the combustibles are here for a very salacious set of allegations that could go far beyond his campaign finance problems,” ethics lawyer Stanley Brand tells the New York Times.

Democratic House leaders are worried, according to a separate account today at Politico.com.  One unnamed aide told the publication that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “may only be one bad story away from seeing some big break.”  Pelosi has been fighting efforts by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to open an ethics investigation into the lobby firm and its transactions with members of Congress.

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