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Special Report

Congressman Gives Defense Project to Company That's Never Built the System Before

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Wet ‘n Wild

Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman John Murtha has directed more than $3 million in earmarks to a company in his district to build an underwater swimmer detection sonar system for the Navy to protect its docks and ships.

But Roll Call newspaper reports the company had never built a sonar system before and had no experience in sonar engineering. Instead, KDH Defense Systems sews bulletproof vests. Documents indicate the company originally wanted to partner with other local defense contractors close to Murtha and it worked with a lobbying firm that employed both Murtha's brother and a former aide. KDH ended up hiring a British company to do the engineering.

Ultimately a prototype was produced. But the company president says it will have to be re-engineered before the Navy can use it. Murtha's spokesman told Roll Call the project achieved its goal and that the program was a research and development effort — not a procurement. Add this to the growing list of Murtha contracting stories.

Mind Your Mountains

Colorado gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis is learning a tough lesson in his race: mountains matter.

The Republican had a large photo on his Web site with the headline: "What do you want for the future of Colorado?" There was a slight problem, though. The mountains in that picture turned out to be the Canadian Rockies rather than mountains from his own state; not a small infraction in a mountain-loving state.

The photo was quickly replaced with an image of the Flatirons near Boulder. The head of one liberal group points out that McInnis was critical of former GOP Senate candidate Bob Schaffer for his use of Alaska's Mount McKinley in a TV ad.

A strategist for McInnis said an out-of-state design consultant created the Web site.

Food for Thought

A few minutes ago we told you about California’s budget woes. Tuesday the fiscal foibles ripened into a figurative food fight, when the state legislature spent time discussing three bills dealing with the blueberry industry, what can be termed "honey," and regulations pertaining to pomegranate juice.

Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's spokesman Aaron McLear was quoted by CBS 13 saying, "Look, we're pro-condiment, we're pro-fruit. But the focus needs to be on the budget crisis... The governor is not against condiments. The governor's not against fruits of any kind."

— FOX News Channel's Lanna Britt contributed to this report.