|By Bob Weaver|
Congressman Allan Mollohan (Dem) is under investigation by the FBI, an agency in which the 63-year-old is the new chairman of the panel that determines their budget.
Last week, while not removing himself, announced he would not be responsible for the FBIs budget and monetary allocations.
Allegations forced Mollohan to step down from his post as the senior Democrat on the House Ethics Committee.
At issue is at least $202 million dollars in federal funding Mollohan has steered to five nonprofit groups in his West Virginia district. Much of the money has gone to organizations run by people who have then contributed to the 12-term congressman's campaigns.
Mollohan, whose roots are deep and wide in Calhoun, has been criticized for under-representing his assets and earnings on personal financial disclosures from 1996 to 2004, and for steering taxpayer money to the non-profits he helped create.
His father, the late Congressman Robert Mollohan, was a Calhoun native.
His critics claim Mollohan and his wife, Barbara, reported under $550,000 in assets in 2000. While bringing home the bacon to his district, his assets soared to more than $8 million just five years later.
Critics allege his wealth skyrocketed mostly due to real estate investments he has made with business partners, some of whom run his designated non-profits.
Political observers say it is a tenuous situation investigating Mollohan for his earmarks, when earmarks are the main mechanism that all congressman use to pork their districts.
While Mollohan does not serve Calhoun, during the past few years he got $200,000 to purchase bleachers for the Calhoun Middle-High School field, help complete the athletic building and a new school board building.
He also obtained $208,000 for the historical renovation of the Stump Hotel and several local students have benefited from scholarships he has funded.
Since Grantsville's town hall building committee was initiated by businessman Jim Morris in 2003, Mollohan and Delegate Bill Stemple's names have been invoked at most council meetings as wanting to help the construction of a new town hall.
Financial disclosure statements listed on the web, indicate Morris and his wife Lynn Gilbert contributed over $6,000 to the Mollohan campaign in 2006.
At a council meeting a few days ago, attorney Frank Venezia ask that some members be willing to meet with Mollohan over the matter.
The issue surfaced after indications the town property might be put on the auction block.
Morris successfully stopped a trade deal for the town hall property by businessman Steve Satterfield in 2003. Satterfield offered to build a new structure, but the court said the property should have gone to auction.
Morris then offered the town two houses on the flood plain as a trade, an idea that was rejected, after which he organized the building committee three years ago.
Mollohan is accused of purchasing a farm in partnership with the head of a defense firm to which he earmarked a government contract in a 2005 spending bill.
During the last election, Mollohan raised $1,500,000 for his campaign, saying "I'm in the cross-hair of the Republican party."
Legal experts indicate some of Mollhan's answers during an investigation are "Plausible, others less so."
Mollohan says he has been forthcoming regarding his finances and says he has done nothing wrong.
Mollohan filed two dozen corrections to his past six annual financial disclosure forms last year, asserting that his accountant had uncovered unintentional errors.
He attributes his rise in assets to prudent real-estate investments.
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