TACOMA (CN) -A defeated Republican candidate for Congress sued the Justice Department, demanding the FBI release records of its investigation of the incumbent’s alleged ties to a-pay-to play scandal.
Doug Cloud lost four election challenges to 16-term incumbent Congressman Norm Dicks, from 2004-2010.
In his federal FOIA complaint, Cloud’s 2010 campaign chairman Philip Watson and the Cloud for Congress Committee sued the U.S. Department of Justice.
Watson claims the Justice Department responded to the campaign’s FOIA request with the bogus statement that it would be an “unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,” to release the information.
Cloud’s campaign asked the Justice Department for “all records, files, and investigative reports” from an FBI investigation of Congressmen Dicks and his alleged involvement with the PMA Group lobbying firm.
The PMA Group specialized in getting earmarks for its defense industry clients. It shut down in 2009, after being raided by federal agents.
“The PMA group was an influential lobbyist firm operation headquartered in Pennsylvania which has been implicated in an influence buying scandal involving numerous congressmen, including Norm Dicks,” according to the complaint. “PMA’s Chairman, Paul Magliocchetti, has, in fact, pled guilty to violation of campaign finance laws in connection with the PMA influence buying scandal.”
Magliocchetti pleaded guilty to illegally funneling more than $386,000 in corporate campaign contributions to lawmakers and making false statements to a federal agency. In January this year he was sentenced to 27 months in prison.
The House ethics committee investigated earmarks connected to the PMA Group and found that no members of Congress or their staffs exchanged earmarks for campaign contributions.
Watson claims the Justice Department violated the “intent of the Freedom of Information Act, which is to favor public disclosure,” by refusing to release the records.
“The Department of Justice’s decision violates the requirement for release because of an ‘overriding public interest’ in whether Congressman Dicks has been implicated in the corrupt practice of selling his influence to favored parties in return for campaign contributions. From 1989 through 2008 Congressman Dicks received campaign contributions totaling $518,380.00 from the PMA Group, PMA group employees and PMA clients,” according to the complaint.
“That the requested records are required to be released because the records relate to an investigation of Congressmen Norm Dicks and his actions as ranking minority member of both the United States House of Representatives Defense Services Sub-Committee and the House Appropriations Committee to influence the award of Federal Contracts to PMA clients. Thus, the records requested concern possible corruption at the highest levels of the United States Congress.”
Watson and Cloud for Congress want to see the record.
Cloud, a Tacoma-based attorney, filed the complaint.
Cloud lost overwhelmingly to Dicks each time he ran against him, taking just 29 percent of the vote in 2006, 31 percent in 2004, 33 percent in 2007, and 42 percent in 2010.
Dicks’ 6th Congressional District is based in Tacoma.