MURTHA’S ‘DEFENSE’…. Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) has been confronted with some unpleasant questions of late. In late January, the FBI raided the offices of a defense contractor linked to the Pennsylvania Democrat. A few weeks later, we learned about another FBI raid, this time of the PMA Group — a lobbying firm founded by a former Murtha aide, which specializes in winning earmarks — touching off a series of questions about corruption.

The other day, in an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Murtha defended himself against allegations of wrongdoing.

“If I’m corrupt, it’s because I take care of my district,” Mr. Murtha said. “My job as a member of Congress is to make sure that we take care of what we see is necessary. Not the bureaucrats who are unelected over there in whatever White House, whether it’s Republican or Democrat. Those bureaucrats would like to control everything. Every president would like to have all the power and not have Congress change anything. But we’re closest to the people.” […]

What he says he does know is that without earmarks, “Johnstown would have been like Detroit is today. We would have been a ghost town.”

I suspect this isn’t the defense Murtha’s lawyer — or, for that matter, Murtha’s press secretary — would have chosen. It sounds a bit like Murtha’s saying he engaged in corruption, but only because his district would benefit from his alleged wrongdoing.

If memory serves, there was a very real possibility after the 2006 elections that Democrats would make Murtha the House Majority Leader, though he was later defeated. In retrospect, that probably worked out well for the majority party.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.