U.S. Rep. John Murtha – one of the most corrupt, liberal members of Congress and an outspoken critic of the War in Iraq – died today of complications from gall bladder surgery.
The 77 year old had represented Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District for thirty-five years.
Murtha is perhaps best remembered for being involved in the Abscam scandal in the early 1980’s, an investigation in which FBI agents posed as Saudi nationals and attempted to bribe federal officials for favorable immigration treatment. Murtha was recorded by the FBI passing up a $50,000 bribe – but left open the possibility that he might be interested in accepting future bribes.
He later testified against two Congressmen who were also implicated in the scandal.
Murtha was U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s choice to become the Democratic Majority Leader in 2007, but was defeated by Rep. Steny Hoyer.
Scandal followed Murtha throughout his career. In 2009, he became embroiled in controversy related to his role as Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Defense.
According to the Washington Post, a Pennsylvania defense research center regularly consulted with two “handlers” close to Murtha while it received approximately $250 million in federal funding from Murtha’s earmarks.
The center then channeled a significant portion of the funding to companies that were among Murtha’s campaign supporters.
Murtha’s death means there will be a special election in Pennsylvania’s 12th district which went for John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election but flipped to John McCain in 2008.
Jack Murtha presides, ignores reality to push through his preferences without a vote.