May 05 2009

Don’t Witch Hunt Average Americans!

Published by at 9:12 am under All General Discussions

Update: No, I am not impressed by the far right blogs going over the deep end, see here for why I see this more as the liberal media yanking their chain and them reacting like Pavlov’s Dog, wasting their time and credibility.  – end update

I can see the right wing drama queens getting all aquiver over a ridiculous Washington Post story about the reprehensible congressman Jack Murtha (D-PA) and his average american nephew Robert Murtha Jr with his tiny government contracting company. The insinuation full, evidence free hit job tries to make it out that nephew Rob is unfairly or illegally getting government work from mad uncle Jack (seems to be mad aunt and uncle week):

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.

Here we go again, attacking those working to protect us. If this is a get rich scheme it is a joke. $4 million dollars covering 17 employees is nothing (doesn’t even factor in subcontractor purchases, etc). If you assume 30% is going out the door for materials, rent, etc that leaves $2.8 million for the 17 employees. If you divide the 2.8 by 17 workers you get an average billable rate to the government for a year of $164,705. That is pretty damn low for the DC area. Clearly Murtech is not soaking the government. 

To boil it down further that means (assuming 1800 billable hours per person per year) the average billable rate is $91 an hour. From witch must come health insurance, state and federal income tax, FICA taxes and vacation and sick leave coverage. If I recalculate the whole thing without and subcontractor costs (the 30% I took off the top) then get a billable rate of $130/hr.

There is no skimming or anything possible at these billable rates ($91-130/hr). These people are doing important and classified work. They do not deserve their reputations smeared or ruined by rampant innuendo and unfounded suspicion. If the Washington Post had just done some simple math, they would realize this is not a case of someone lining their pockets with millions of dollars a year. I realize Murtek has more income sources, but nothing in the story proves anything illegal is happening, it is all based on conjecture and spin.

28 responses so far

28 Responses to “Don’t Witch Hunt Average Americans!”

  1. Terrye says:


    I am sorry, but any time some member of Congress, especially one with Murtha’s shady background, awards no bids contracts to family members you gotta wonder.

    Just look at the crap Cheney and Bush took over Halliburton and Cheney was not even connected with the company anymore. Did that hurt Democrats to go after Cheney? No…well then, what can you expect?

  2. Terrye says:

    And who says they are risking prison? Murtha has been getting away with this kind of thing for years. I am sure it never occurred to him or anyone else that prison could be involved.

  3. Dagpotter says:

    If you look at the Murtech website,, they provide SETA services. So it looks like they are supporting either MDA or one of the service PM shops in the logistics realm. I manage a task worth about $3.5 million for an Army PM. I fund with subs about 18 work years with that. We make a profit, so 17 people for $4 million depending on the labor mix is not excessive.

    The issue is not that Murtech is making illegal profits off of its one contract but how it came to get it. It is not too difficult a stretch to imagine a contract being given to them due to their relationship to Congressman Murtha. Heck, in the Air Force, we had a PE that Senator Byrd funded directly for work in West Virginia. There was not discussion of what it was for he just did it. Earmarks are wonderful in that way.

    Murtha hasn’t done anything illegal that we know off as he hasn’t been as blatant as Randy Cunningham for example, but he is certainly unethical and misusing government funds. This contract may be the same, it may not be. I think Mr. Strata is a little overwrought in this protests, but as with the PMA issue it will slowly build and maybe nothing will come of it in the end, but maybe something will.

  4. Redteam says:

    Dagpotter, that site doesn’t really say what it does. It talks in generalities a lot and the Jobs opportunity page was especially interesting.

    I’m not sure why a project management team would need warehousing, and obviously they don’t according to the WaPo which says no trucks visit their loading docks.

    I think it’s safe to say their only function is to dispose of 4 million dollars of taxpayers money with zip accountability.
    How convenient to say that their function is ‘classified’ so they can’t talk about it. I’m sure it’s not so much the ‘classified’ that keeps them from discussing it nearly so much as the embarrassment of trying to describe exactly what it is they do.

    The web site uses all the right buzz words to sound important while not really saying anything.

    I would defy anyone to read the description on that site and tell me what it is that they do..

    yeah, it’s classified all right.

  5. Frogg says:

    I’ve seen several posts on blogs that say this was a “warehousing” business. That’s why they question the “no bid contract urgency” aspect.

    I don’t know. If nothing is there to implicate any criminal or ethical issues I would rather the news media not even publish an article about it. However, anytime deals are made that involves a politician’s family member, a closer look is warranted.

    And, anything having to do with Murtha should be looked at closely. That guy is unethical and corrupt.

  6. gary1son says:

    There are few words bad enough to describe John Murtha.

    He literally aided and abetted the enemy with his ignorant premature bluster regarding Haditha, and he’s yet to really apologize AFAIK.

    Anything and anyone related to him should automatically be suspect, IMHO.

    Assuming there’s nothing improper here however, and of course it would probably be lost on him — I wonder how he feels about he and his nephew getting wrongly accused of something prematurely by people who don’t really have all the facts and are just trying to score political points. — ????

  7. Dc says:

    Interesting post for someone who completely overlooked this:

    You defended the rightwing extremist report as being reasonable given it’s intent. And yet Napolitano apologizes for it and admits the language was not appropriate. Then, you completely ignore the next report that comes out that proves beyond reasonable doubt that somebody has gone haywire in HSD writing these things. And then also fail to cover it’s withdrawal, and admission from HSD that they have a “maverick” dept issuing these things that they need to reign in.

  8. Dagpotter says:


    I don’t know your background but what the website describes is pretty strait forward Scientific, Engineering, Technical and Analytical (SETA) support to a government PM shop. They say in the article that they do logistics for an entity doing missile defense tests. That is either MDA, the Navy or the Army. Logistical SETA support covers management of all of the domains of logistics — they could be managing the shipping and handling of targets or sensors or interceptors; or something more mundane then that like manuals.

    As to the fact they have no jobs listed as a 17 person company they are probably cherry picking who they want to hire as the task grows.

    $4 million in missile defense R&D is a drop in the bucket where one test could cost you $40 million.

    The issue isn’t the contract but Murtha’s actions.