This article originally provided by The Charleston Gazette

April 12, 2006

Political cash

Mollohan allegations

CONSERVATIVE groups in Washington accuse Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., of several ethics affronts. They allege:

  • Through his powerful seat on the House Appropriations Committee, the West Virginian used budget “earmarks” to steer about $250 million of taxpayer money to five Mountain State nonprofit groups he helped create.
  • The nonprofits pay high salaries to some of his associates and former aides — who donated nearly $400,000 to his campaigns in the past decade.
  • Mollohan’s net worth soared recently, largely because of real estate investments he made with some of the nonprofit figures.
  • One right-wing group asked federal prosecutors to investigate its claim that Mollohan filed untrue disclosure reports hiding much of his new wealth.

    Some Republicans say Mollohan should resign from the House Ethics Committee. But the congressman contends that the allegations are only political smears — crude attempts to divert attention from the GOP’s scandal over dirty money from crooked lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Nonetheless, the accusations against Mollohan are serious enough to demand public answers. The deciding factor will be whether U.S. prosecutors file any charges.

    Part of this mess stems from America’s ugly system in which special interests shower cash on powerful politicians. If Mollohan hadn’t taken $400,000 in donations from the nonprofit leaders, nobody would suspect that they were repaying him for funneling taxpayer money to them.

    Meanwhile, West Virginians should pay close attention as this affair unfolds. Results in coming months will show whether it’s election-year exaggerations, or whether real wrongdoing occurred.

  • Voter-Owned Elections

    Citizens for Clean Elections P.O. Box 6753 Huntington, WV 25773-6753 304-522-0246