Sunday, April 23, 2006

On The Pay Roll

There's an ongoing debate in these times of Corruption (Abramoff, Delay, Cunningham, Scanlon, Ney, Noe, etc.), Corporate Welfare (subsidies, loopholes, tax breaks, bail-out's, giveaways, privatization, etc.) and Cronyism (Brown, Leavitt, Safavian, Norton, Miers, Snow, etc) and calls for Reform (lobbying, ethics, earmark, campaign finance, voting, etc.) -over whether or not it is ethical to have family and friends on the pay roll and/or as beneficiaries of policy and other political activities. (I like run on sentences.) The conflicts of interests are obvious and Richard Pombo is has been in the middle of this debate for some time. It's an "ethical gray area", as USAToday put it.

This is not new news, but it may be new to some as more and more people become interested in this important race to replace an incumbent congressman who's done so much to harm working families and consumers, the air and water we breathe and the food we eat and it's also become relevant in the case of John Doolittle and his wife.

Hat Tip to Land of Enchantment for Blogging about this in regards to Pombo, Doolittle, and Abramoff and hiring family at DailyKos, which inspired this blog.

-The California League of Conservation Voters has report on "Richard Pombo's Family and Friends Network" Here.



Pombo Lobbied Against Guidelines Opposed by Wind Power Industry, But Failed to Disclose His Family Had a Personal Stake in Wind Power. In 2004, aides to Pombo lobbied the U.S. Department of the Interior to suspend environmental guidelines opposed by the wind-power industry without disclosing that Pombo's family had a substantial financial stake in wind energy. The 2003 guidelines sought to reduce the number of birds killed by the spinning blades of wind turbines. In the letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, Pombo asked that draft guidelines be suspended because of the harmful effect they would have on existing operations. Following Pombo's letter, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service representatives subsequently withdrew from talks with environmentalists, wind operators and local regulators. When asked if he felt any obligation to disclose his family's income when dealing with wind-power issues, Pombo answered: "Disclose what? That somebody in my family makes money?” [Los Angeles Times, 4/7/05; Contra Costa Times, 4/21/05; Fresno Bee, 4/8/05]

  • Pombo's Parents Own a 300-acre Ranch In Altamont Pass And Have Received Thousands in Wind Power Royalties. Just east of Oakland, Pombo's parents own a 300-acre ranch in Altamont Pass and have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties from wind-power turbines on their land over the last 17 years. According to price and production records obtained by the Los Angeles Times, Pombo's parents' royalties for the most recent year available, 2001, topped $125,000. That was at the peak of the California energy crisis when prices were unusually high. [Los Angeles Times, 04/07/05]
  • Pombo's Parents Ranch Is Considered to Be a Problem Area By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The ranch owned by Pombo's parents is in the 73-square-mile Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area, which is on a major migratory bird route. Each year, several hundred raptors are killed there, including 40 to 60 golden eagles, leading the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to declare it a problem area. Biologists have been documenting bird deaths at Altamont for possible prosecution under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which makes killing golden eagles and other rare species a crime. [Los Angeles Times, 04/07/05]

Pombo Paid Family Members Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars from Campaign Accounts. According to the Los Angeles Times, Pombo and indicted former Majority Leader Tom Delay dished out some of their largest payouts to their own family members from their campaign coffers. Pombo paid his wife and brother $357,325 from his political fund between 2001 and 2005 for responsibilities listed as bookkeeping, fundraising, consulting and other unspecified services, records show. The amount paid to Pombo’s wife and brother in the 2004 election cycle was more than his challenger spent during his entire campaign. His wife, Annette, was paid $85,275 for her work over the last two years, while his younger brother, Randy Pombo, has been paid $272,050 in the last four years. [Los Angeles Times, 4/14/05]


Pombo and His Family Stand to Profit if Two Freeways Are Built on their Property. According to the East Bay Express, Pombo has a history of using the power of government in ways that would directly or indirectly help his family. One case involves Pombo's support for two new freeways connecting the Central Valley and East Bay. In early August 2005, Pombo attained $21.6 million in federal funds to study the freeway projects, neither of which according to critics addresses the pressing transportation issues in the Tracy, CA. Public records indicate Pombo and his family could handsomely profit from the highway proposals, regardless if no freeways are ever built. The Pombo family owns more than 1,500 acres of land close by to the two new freeways. [East Bay Express, 8/24/05]

Pombo and His Family Have Made Millions from Selling Land for Development. As reported in the East Bay Express, Pombo's father and uncles have brought in tens of millions of dollars from selling land such as farm and ranch land developers desire to be converted into suburban homes and strip malls yet Pombo's biggest contributors have been agribusinesses who have put in nearly $1.1 million into his campaign war chest. [East Bay Express, 8/24/05]

Pombo Told "Tall Tales" Later Proven Untrue About His Family's Encounter With Land Agency. According to the East Bay Express, during his early years on Capitol Hill, Pombo added to his Western persona by developing a reputation for telling tall tales. In his 1996 book with conservative writer Joseph Farah, This Land Is Our Land: How to End the War on Private Property, Pombo told an apparently fanciful tale about how he got into politics, implying that a family run-in with the East Bay Regional Park District in the 1980s first prompted him to run for office. Agency spokesmen later said Pombo wasn't telling the truth. He had alleged that the park district sought 'an abandoned railroad right-of-way as a recreational trail through the property of two dozen local ranchers and that of my family.' He also complained that the park district had sought to block construction of homes to protect the 'viewshed' of the trails 'without any compensation whatsoever.' Park district spokesmen later pointed out that the district had no interest in the Pombos' Altamont property because it was beyond the district's boundaries at the time, and that it was actually seeking railroad right-of-ways in Niles Canyon, at least twenty miles away. [East Bay Express, 8/24/05]

Pombo Used False Claim Against Endangered Species in Senate Committee As Well. According to the East Bay Express, "Protecting the value of his family's property has been a recurrent theme for Pombo. In 1994, he told a Senate committee that his family ranch had been devalued after it was declared a critical habitat for the San Joaquin kit fox. When questioned, he and his staff later acknowledged that the claim was untrue, but said the problem still applied to other Central Valley ranchers. But that wasn't true either. At the time, the federal government had yet to declare any critical habitat for the fox." [East Bay Express, 8/24/05]" (Source)

-Also, here's another Blog At Daily Kos that caught my attention recently - Is Richard Pombo Part Of "The Abramoff Seven" Implicated By Tom Coburn (R-Ok) Recently?

Here's an excerpt from that:
"Not that Pombo was among the GOP congressmen closest to Abramoff. He received only $7,000 in campaign contributions from Abramoff and that's what he gave away. But late last year, FBI agents visited the headquarters of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe in Massachusetts. It turns out that the Wampanoags' 30-year struggle to gain national tribal recognition made sudden progress after they hired Abramoff as their lobbyist -- and contributed $20,000 to Pombo's political action committees. Pombo had considerable say in the Wampanoag case: The Native American Affairs Subcommittee is part of his Resources Committee. (Source)

(HT to Land of Enchantment's Squanto's Abramoff Connection (Pombo Diaries #16), which provides additional background on the reported Pombo-Abramoff ties.)"" (Source)


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