No Quid Pro Quo In Land Deal, Says W.Va. Democrat

The Washington Post
Thursday, April 27, 2006

Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-W.Va.) said this week that his purchase of farm property with a corporate chief executive has no relationship to his support for legislation providing a $2.1 million defense contract to the CEO's company.

Responding to a Wall Street Journal report published Tuesday, Mollohan said he and Dale R. McBride, head of FMW Composite Systems Inc. of Bridgeport, W.Va., have been close friends for 50 years.

Mollohan, who recently resigned from his position as the ranking Democrat on the House ethics committee because of a controversy over other investments, said he and McBride plan to use the 300-acre property for personal recreation, not for development.

Mollohan contended that he and McBride are equally at risk and equally responsible for paying off the eight-year, $900,000 mortgage they obtained from the previous owner, a widow.

"This has everything to do with friendship," he said, referring to the land acquisition. "This is totally 50-50," he added, saying that he received no special treatment from McBride.

Mollohan said he supported the $2.1 million contract for FMW after asking the same questions he applies to all decisions concerning money going to his home state: "Is it a good project, and does it mean jobs and economic development for West Virginia?"

The conservative National Legal and Policy Center filed a 500-page complaint against Mollohan with a U.S. attorney in February, challenging the accuracy of Mollohan's financial disclosure forms and detailing the run-up in Mollohan's wealth in recent years.

From 2000 to 2004, the congressman's holdings in real estate and other assets shot up in value from $562,000 to at least $6.3 million. Mollohan has argued that there is nothing untoward in the growth of his net worth, and that he has benefited from the surge in real estate values across the country.

In addition to winning approval of the contract for McBride's company, Mollohan used his position on the House Appropriations Committee to secure more than $150 million in appropriations for five nonprofit groups in his congressional district, including one run by a former congressional aide who, along with her husband, bought $2 million worth of property with Mollohan and his wife, according to an April 8 report in the Journal.

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