THE INFLUENCE GAME: Mixing donations, earmarks

Those political donations have followed a distinct pattern: The giving is especially heavy in March, which is prime time for submitting written earmark requests. Over the past two decades, $1.1 million has flowed to the campaigns and leadership PACs of Murtha, Visclosky and Moran from PMA and its clients in March alone.

Asked about the relationship between earmarks and contributions, Murtha spokesman Matthew Mazonkey said, "Every person that comes into our office with an appropriations request is treated equally." He said every request is properly vetted, and the office recommends funding only for meritorious, cost-effective requests. Moran's office said that it checks with the Pentagon on proposed earmarks and that whether someone "chooses to provide campaign support has no bearing on our vetting process." Visclosky's office did not return calls and e-mails seeking comment.

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