Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Link Between Corruption & Anti-Environmentalism: Richard Pombo

Sierra Club: Two-Time Losers Turns out some of the most anti-environmental members of Congress are also ethically challenged. Sierra surveys the bottom of the barrel. (source)

"two-time losers: members of Congress who have LCV scores under 15 percent and who are ethically challenged." (source)

"SIX YEARS INTO GEORGE W. BUSH'S PRESIDENCY, anti-environmental extremism has become Capitol Hill's standard operating procedure. Hardly a major bill goes by that someone doesn't saddle with a rider to drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Neither war nor hurricanes nor $3-plus-a-gallon gas seems able to persuade the Republican majority in Congress to look beyond fossil fuel. Even proposals to sell off national parks and forests get serious consideration.


What's the connection between a bad environmental voting record and corruption? Follow the money. Votes against clean air and water are not cast out of antipathy to summer zephyrs and babbling brooks but to help some favored campaign contributor make an extra buck. For legislators willing to sacrifice wildlands or public health to corporate profits, it's not that big a step to feel entitled to a cut of those profits--especially when they see their former colleagues and aides cashing in with lucrative K Street lobbying jobs. Not everyone with a poor LCV rating is on the take, of course, but of all those implicated in the current scandals swirling around Washington, D.C., none has a good environmental record. In fact, all but a handful fall among the worst of the worst.

The scandals these environmental slackers embroiled themselves in fall into two broad categories. One involves disgraced super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who represented sweatshop owners in the Northern Mariana Islands and bilked Native American tribes of millions of dollars while he advanced their gambling interests or undermined those of their competitors. A second set of scandals grew from the shenanigans of military contractors Mitchell Wade and Brent Wilkes, who are alleged to have bribed Cunningham and possibly others in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars in Pentagon contracts." (source)

Pombo's League of Conservation Voters Score: 6% (source)

"Pombo is the chair of the House Committee on Resources, which also oversees Native American affairs. Among Jack Abramoff's clients were the Mashpee Wampanoag of Massachusetts, who were seeking formal recognition as a tribe (the first step toward opening a casino, should Massachusetts ever allow it). Abramoff directed tribe leaders to donate $12,000 to Pombo's Rich Political Action Committee, with further donations coming from the lobbyist and others. In short order, the Mashpees were put on "active consideration" for recognition by 2007.

In line with his official concern for national parks (scouting new locations to sell off?), Pombo charged the government $4,935.87 to rent an RV so he could visit Yosemite, King's Canyon, and other parks. And since he was tooling around enjoying the scenery, he decided to take the family along, at taxpayers' expense.

Pombo has lobbied for wholesale weakening of the Endangered Species Act, oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and dilution of citizen participation in the National Environmental Policy Act. He also advocated selling off many national park and national forest parcels, as well as millions of acres of public land, to mining interests, developers, and oil and gas companies. Working with Representatives John Doolittle (R-Calif.) and Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), he quashed an investigation into the dealings of Texas financier Charles Hurwitz, owner of the Pacific Lumber Company, the largest liquidator of California's last privately owned redwoods. Hurwitz donated generously to all three." (source)


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