WASHINGTON -- A congressman who lost re-election amid a Justice Department probe of his financial dealings has resurfaced as a lobbyist on white collar crime issues -- getting paid by that same Justice Department.
Former Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) came under scrutiny after a conservative watchdog group filed a 500-page complaint alleging that he created a string of nonprofit groups in West Virginia through which he steered millions of dollars in earmarked federal funds, enriching himself and his associates.
The Department of Justice closed the investigation without bringing any charges in 2010, several months before Mollohan lost his re-election bid. But a liberal watchdog group that had also targeted Mollohan, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, obtained the federal files from the case last year and found reams of damning testimony against him, leading CREW to declare that Mollohan should have been prosecuted.
Instead, he became a lobbyist. He appears to have landed as a significant client the National White Collar Crime Center, based in West Virginia. That outfit bills itself as a nonprofit that "delivers training to thousands of law enforcement professionals in the areas of computer forensics, cybercrime, financial crime and intelligence analysis."
Last year, it received more than $7 million from the Justice Department to further that mission. The same year, it also spent $50,000 to have Mollohan and one of his former staffers lobby Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The White Collar Crime Center did not answer emails sent to its media department. One of Mollohan's critics, former CREW director Melanie Sloan, didn't seem entirely surprised that Mollohan was now profiting from taxpayer dollars spent by the agency that never prosecuted him.
"It's no surprise that he's a lobbyist, but it's kind of ironic that this would be the job that he'd get," Sloan said. She added that perhaps Mollohan's avoidance of a white-collar prosecution gave him special expertise in the field, much the way hackers become advisers to the government.
"You can't call him a criminal since he wasn't prosecuted, but someone who appears to have engaged in white-collar crime might well be able to offer advice as to how to investigate similar misconduct," Sloan said.
An email to Nelson Mullins, the firm listed on Mollohan's lobbying disclosure forms, also was not immediately returned.
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