BY Benjamin Lesser
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy says she's "innocent" of pocketing possibly illegal donations from a tainted lobbyist because she had no clue "what was going on in the background."
McCarthy (D-Nassau) got some $50,000 from principals and clients of the defunct PMA Group, some of whose clients received millions of taxpayer dollars sponsored by McCarthy. [See which industries donate the most to McCarthy.]
PMA's founder, Paul Magliocchetti, was recently indicted on charges of funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal donations to several Congress members who sponsored "earmarks" for PMA clients.
When the Daily News revealed McCarthy's PMA donations Tuesday, McCarthy had refused to comment. Tracked down at a housing press conference, McCarthy reluctantly responded to The News' query.
"All of us that had gotten fund-raising from them were found innocent, that we knew nothing about what was going on in the background," she said.
McCarthy justified steering taxpayer dollars to two of PMA's clients by saying, "What I do on a daily basis is ... bring earmarks back to my district."
Records show McCarthy received substantial campaign donations from PMA and its clients in the weeks around the request for funding. PMA was McCarthy's single largest contributor in both the 2006 and 2008 elections.
McCarthy said PMA, which once represented dozens of defense contractors, sent her so much money because, "I work with a lot of defense companies. Long Island has a lot of defense."