The coincidences that occur in Washington, D.C. are truly extraordinary. According to the Washington Post:
The headquarters of Murtech, in a low-slung, bland building in a Glen Burnie business park, has its blinds drawn tight and few signs of life. On several days of visits, a handful of cars sit in the parking lot, and no trucks arrive at the 10 loading bays at the back of the building.
Yet last year, Murtech received $4 million in Pentagon work, all of it without competition, for a variety of warehousing and engineering services. With its long corridor of sparsely occupied offices and an unmanned reception area, Murtech's most striking feature is its owner -- Robert C. Murtha Jr., 49. He is the nephew of Rep. John P. Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who has significant sway over the Defense Department's spending as chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.
Robert Murtha said he is not at liberty to discuss in detail what his company does, but for four years it has subsisted on defense contracts, according to records and interviews. He said Murtech's 17 employees "provide necessary logistical support" to Pentagon testing programs that focus on detecting chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, "and that's about as far as I feel comfortable going." Giving more details could provide important clues to terrorist plotters, he said.
Murtha said he does not advertise being the nephew of John Murtha and considers it "unfortunate" that some will unfairly assume Murtech received its federal contracts because of his uncle's influence at the Pentagon.
"If we're not doing our job well, we wouldn't be doing our job," he said. "I'm successful at the work I do because of the skill sets I have. . . . You don't know how good someone is unless you work with them."
A spokesman at Murtha's office did not return calls seeking comment. The lawmaker, a former Marine, has said in the past that he is proud of his family's service to the military and the government.
Over the years, John Murtha has proudly claimed credit for using his Appropriations Committee seat to steer hundreds of millions in Pentagon work to companies in his district, many of them fledgling enterprises run by campaign contributors. His influence also may be seen in the military improvements at the Johnstown airport that bears his name. The little-used commuter airport doubles as a wartime preparedness facility for the Pentagon after $30 million in improvements.
Murtha's power has had beneficial effects within his family. His brother, Robert C. "Kit" Murtha, built a longtime lobbying practice around clients seeking defense funds through the Appropriations Committee and became one of the top members of KSA, a lobbying firm whose contractor clients often received multimillion-dollar earmarks directed through the committee chairman.
Of course there is no relationship between Rep. John Murtha's position and the taxpayer money collected by his relatives. Still, it is amazing how things like this just seem to happen when Capitol Hill gets involved.