The cloud of money that surrounded the PMA Group lobbying firm was apparently bigger than many had thought.
The lobby shop raided by the FBI last November had been credited with $1.8 million in contributions since 2001, and that’s just to members of the Defense Appropriations Committee. (The firm won hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars for clients via earmarks from that committee.)
But if one counts the money coming from PMA’s clients, also, that number skyrockets, as the group OpenSecrets.org found . PMA and employees for its clients combined have given a whopping $7.8 million to members of that august panel since 1998.
The firm’s operations – millions out to lawmakers, hundreds of millions back in earmarks for clients – have made it, for many observers , the poster child for tacit “pay-to-play” politics in Washington. (PMA spokesman Patrick Dorton denies the firm engaged in anything resembling "pay-to-play." "Any projects that the PMA Group worked on were evaluated on their individual merits and the benefits to the American public," he wrote in an email. "There were no guarantees and many projects never got funded.")
In some cases, I’m sure, it’s likely the checks were written by conscientious employees, of their own volition. But some portion of that money may have been part and parcel of PMA’s own lobbying strategy. Indeed, some former PMA clients have complained of being pressured by PMA lobbyists to write checks for politicians they either had no interest in or openly opposed.