Earmark outrage

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on November 9, 2007

This story is a week old, but I'm trying to clean up some of the browser windows that I've got open.

Concurrent Technologies began two decades ago doing metalworking research in Pennsylvania's struggling rust belt. In the years since, the Johnstown, Pa., company has become a federal contracting chameleon.

It is an intelligence adviser, an environmental consultant and a software engineering specialist. It has trained mine-detecting dogs and managed religion-based initiatives. It oversees construction projects, organizes conferences and studies ways to use hydrogen for fuel in Pennsylvania and South Carolina. Missile-defense research is part of its portfolio. So is the development of special armor for combat vehicles in Iraq and "solid waste technology" in Florida.

And it is a nonprofit charity.

Behind the rise of Concurrent is Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee, who helped arrange funding to launch the organization in 1988. Murtha has since arranged millions of dollars more in directed congressional appropriations called earmarks. Now Concurrent has nearly $250 million in annual revenue and 1,500 employees.

That's your tax dollars at work. Buried at the end of the article is some important comments by one of the few congressmembers -- of either party -- who is a critic of the earmarking system.

In a July 17 speech on the floor of the House, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) unsuccessfully sought to strike a $1 million earmark proposed for the Center for Instrumented Critical Infrastructure, to be run by Concurrent. Flake said he could find no evidence that the center existed.

"Concurrent Technology has been the recipient of millions upon millions of dollars over the years," Flake said during his floor statement. "The executives in Concurrent Technology contribute handsomely to members of Congress. So it receives a lot of earmarks. It seems to be an earmark incubator of some type, an earmark that begets more earmarks."

And the Democrats want to raise taxes even higher for more of this fraud?

On a related media note, there's a correction appended to the top of the article.

A graphic with this article incorrectly identified Rep. John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania as a Republican. He is a Democrat.

Yeah, force of habit and all that.

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