This article originally provided by
The Charleston Gazette
April 12, 2006
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.