By Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Marvin Hoffman is listed in campaign finance records as one of the many lobbyists with the powerful PMA Group donating money to lawmakers. But Hoffman is a soon-to-retire information technology manager in Marina del Rey, Calif., who has never heard of the Arlington lobbying firm or the Indiana congressman to whom he supposedly gave $2,000.
"It's alarming that someone is stealing my identity somewhere," Hoffman, 75, said in an interview. "I've never heard of this company."
Another contributor listed as a PMA lobbyist is, in fact, a sales manager for an inflatable boat manufacturer in New Jersey. John Hendricksen said he did make campaign donations but never worked at PMA and does not know how he ended up listed in records that way.
These errors, along with other unusual donations linked to the firm, come as the Justice Department examines allegations that PMA may have violated campaign finance laws. The offices of PMA, which ranked last year as the 10th-largest Washington lobbying firm by earnings, were raided in November by FBI agents and Defense Department investigators.
Federal investigators are focused on allegations that PMA founder Paul Magliocchetti, a former appropriations staffer close to Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), may have reimbursed some of his staff to cover contributions made in their names to Murtha and other lawmakers, according to two sources familiar with the investigation. PMA has long had a reputation for securing earmarks from congressional appropriators, particularly for defense contractors, and it has donated generously to influential members of Congress. Magliocchetti personally gave $98,000 in campaign donations last year, according to campaign records.
Federal election laws limit the amount of money individuals may contribute to candidates, but lobbying firms often show their clout by collecting and bundling contributions. It is illegal for employers to reimburse donors for their contributions.
The Washington Post examined contributions that were reported as being made by PMA employees and consultants, and found several people who were not registered lobbyists and did not work at the lobbying firm. It is unclear whether the donors misidentified as PMA associates are part of the federal probe.
A PMA spokesman said the firm's management does not know Hoffman or Hendricksen and does not know how the errors were made in reports to the Federal Election Commission.
"It's up to the campaigns to report contributions in their FEC filings," said PMA spokesman Patrick Dorton.
FEC spokeswoman Mary Brandenberger said she has not often seen such misidentified donations, but if a complaint were received, the commission would first question the campaign about its record-keeping.
Jan Witold Baran, a campaign finance and ethics expert and Wiley Rein lawyer, said the errors pose serious questions and should be cleared up.
"It's true that candidate campaigns have the responsibility for disclosure, but the information they obtain usually comes from the contributor or the person who solicited from the contributor," Baran said. "The question is: Where did that information come from?"
Murtha aide Matthew Mazonkey said the congressman was not the recipient of the erroneous donations.
PMA, founded in 1989 by Magliocchetti, a former Murtha aide to the House Appropriations Committee, has enjoyed a high success rate in winning earmarks for its clients, which include such major defense contractors as Lockheed and General Dynamics. PMA also represents a circle of lesser-known but also successful contractors such as Argon ST, MTS Technologies, DRS Technologies and Advanced Acoustic Concepts. Many PMA clients have opened offices in Murtha's western Pennsylvania district, donated generously to him, and received millions in earmarks requested by the congressman.
In the last election cycle, PMA and its clients donated $775,000 to Murtha's campaigns. Last year, those clients received earmarks worth $299 million and arranged by Murtha and his colleagues.
The majority of PMA's 35 lobbyists had worked on Capitol Hill or at the Pentagon. Several of the top lobbyists were also PMA directors and had ties to lawmakers.
Two men listed in campaign finance reports as together giving $30,000 to lawmakers and being part of the PMA Group team are not Washington lobbyists at all. They live and work in the Florida resort community of Amelia Island, where PMA founder Magliocchetti has a beachfront condominium. Both are listed as directors of PMA.
John Pugliese had been a sommelier at the posh Ritz-Carlton Hotel on the island, his family said. Jon C. Walker is in charge of golf marketing at the neighboring Amelia Island Golf Club, according to club personnel and its Web site. They each donated identical amounts to the same lawmakers, in 12 installments each, almost always on the same date.
Walker and Pugliese did not return repeated phone calls and messages.
Pugliese is listed as a PMA Group "associate," and Walker is a PMA Group "consultant" in finance records.
Rebecca DeRosa, who is listed as a part-time accountant at PMA and director, recently married Magliocchetti and has given generously on PMA's behalf for several years. Last year alone, she personally gave $73,000 to lawmakers and congressional political action committees, records show. For most of those donations, she is listed as a PMA employee. Her donations included $22,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and $4,250 to Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.).
DeRosa did not answer her phone or returns calls to the Gaithersburg office of the DRS subsidiary, where she is listed as an employee.
Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.