Feds issue subpoenas to Visclosky's office

2009-05-29T00:00:00Z Feds issue subpoenas to Visclosky's officeBowdeya Tweh
bowdeya.tweh@nwi.com, (219) 933-4183

U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky's Congressional office, campaign committees and certain employees have been sent grand jury subpoenas requesting documents relating to The PMA Group, the congressman said Friday.

Visclosky said he was surprised by the subpoenas, which he said were issued earlier this month and earlier this week, adding that he has conducted himself "with the highest degree of integrity." The Merrillville Democrat said he would "make sure every request is fully complied with under the law."

"I did not expect it," he said. "I have done nothing wrong."

Visclosky said he's not aware of other members of Congress dealing with subpoenas from law enforcement officials relating to the PMA Group. He said no federal authorities have visited his office nor have taken any materials out of it.

The PMA Group is a defunct Arlington, Va., lobbying firm, and the FBI conducted a raid on its offices in November. The lobbying firm, formerly named Paul Magliocchetti Associates, has been one of Visclosky's top contributors. Since 1998, the firm and its clients - through political action committees or employees and their families - have contributed nearly $1.38 million to Visclosky's campaign and leadership political action committee, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Visclosky said he began having a working relationship with Paul Magliocchetti, founder of PMA Group, in the early 1990s when Magliocchetti was a Congressional staff member. After he went into the private sector, Magliocchetti had clients in the area of defense and Visclosky said earmarks he may have secured for PMA Group clients were because he thought they did good work. Media reports say the firm closed its doors in March.

Magliocchetti is a former staffer on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense chaired by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa. Visclosky is also a member of the panel, and chairs another House appropriations subcommittee, the Associated Press reported.

PMA also employed Visclosky's former congressional chief of staff Richard Kaelin. The AP reported Magliocchetti is under criminal investigation.

Visclosky returned $18,000 in campaign funds linked to the lobbying firm in March to the U.S. Treasury. Earlier this year, Visclosky said he decided he wouldn't seek earmarks for for-profit companies - although he said the action is not illegal.

"I want to make sure there's no question of my conduct," Visclosky said.

A spokeswoman for the FBI Washington Field Office didn't immediately return a call for comment confirming the subpoenas being issued.

Visclosky is serving his 13th consecutive term in Congress and represents areas of Lake, Porter, Benton, Newton and Jasper counties. The congressman reaffirmed his intent to run for re-election in 2010. He said he's worked hard to secure dollars over the years to develop the lake shore, the Gary/Chicago International Airport and investments in Purdue University Calumet in Hammond.

"As we work through this process, I intend to work as hard as I always have on behalf of the people of Northwest Indiana," Visclosky said. He later said: "There's a body of work after 24 years of working every day on behalf of the constituents I represent," Visclosky said.

Visclosky said his office has retained the law firm Steptoe and Johnson LLP on the matter.

The congressman issued the following statement on the issue:

"Federal law enforcement officials have issued grand jury subpoenas to my Congressional office, campaign committees and certain employees to request documents relating to PMA. It is my intention to fully cooperate with the investigation consistent with my constitutional obligations to Congress and my duties and responsibilities to my constituents.

"I will continue to work hard to represent the people of Indiana's First Congressional District as I have done since being elected to Congress. I am confident that at the end of this process, no one will conclude that I have done anything wrong or harmed my constituents in any way. The investigation is at an early state and I respect the investigative process. For that reason, I will have no further comment on the matters under review."

Visclosky is awaiting an advisory opinion from the Federal Election Commission to determine whether he can use campaign funds to pay for legal fees related to a federal investigation into PMA Group. Jacob Ritvo, a Visclosky spokesman, said last month the request was a procedural matter and there is a legal precedent for legislators taking this action.

Larry Baas, professor and chair of Valparaiso University's political science, said he wasn't aware of other Indiana legislators being subpoenaed for documents or being compelled to appear in front of a grand jury.

Baas said that unless the subpoena eventually leads to a criminal indictment, Visclosky's seat should be safe because he has a lot of support in the region.

Times Staff Writers Dan Hinkel and Christine Kraly and Associated Press Writer Henry C. Jackson contributed to this report.

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