Lobbying group's campaign donations scrutinized

The Baltimore Sun

WASHINGTON -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 suburban Arlington, Va., lobbying firm or the Indiana congressman to whom he supposedly gave $2,000.

"I've never heard of this company," Hoffman, 75, said in an interview.

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 made campaign donations but never worked at PMA and does not know why he is listed in records that way.

These errors, along with other unusual donations linked to the firm, are coming to light as the Justice Department examines allegations that PMA might have violated campaign finance laws. The offices of PMA, which ranked last year as the 10th-biggest-earning lobbying firm in Washington, were raided in November by FBI agents and Department of Defense investigators.

Federal investigators are focused on allegations that PMA founder Paul Magliocchetti, a former appropriations staffer close to Rep. John P. Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, 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, and it has donated generously to members of Congress.

Federal election laws limit the amount of money individuals may contribute to candidates, but lobbying firms often demonstrate their influence by collecting and bundling contributions. It is illegal for employers to reimburse donors for their contributions.

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.

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