the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

November 7, 2005

Pombo Watch


This past Saturday, a few dozen Sierra club members, local citizens, and environmentalists gathered on scenic Theodore Roosevelt Island, located on the Potomac between Foggy Bottom and and Arlington, VA. One person was conspicuously absent, however, Rep Richard Pombo (R-CA). Saturday’s rally may not have been held in Pombo’s “honor” so much as to point out the danger that Pombo’s actions hold towards the environment. From drilling in the Arctic reserve, to oil rigs on the coast of Virginia, to gutting the Endangered Species Act, Pombo seems to relish his role as the Anti-Environmental Prince of Darkness.

I asked one of the speakers, what in his opinion motivated Pombo. What could move him to draft a bill to sell off national park land, including the very park where we met? The speaker nodded his head, understanding how puzzling Pombo’s behavior was. “Power,” he said. “Money and power.”

“You don’t think it’s personal?” I probed.
“Pombo has been well trained to make it look like that.” While the speaker didn’t mention a certain exterminator from Texas, one whose antics leave one puzzling over how much is personal, how much is ham-handed acting, Tom Delay came unbidden to mind.

The connection to Delay may have been more than pure association. Like Delay, Pombo has built a network of industrial contributors that have helped win elections with comfortable margins. Both men have used money from their political networks to compensate close relatives. And if this report (pdf) from the California League of Conservation Voters is accurate, Pombo, like Delay, operates in a political realm that boarders Questionable, Unethical, and Illegal.

While Delay may be focused on building bridges to nowhere, Pombo, whose political action committee is aptly named RichPAC prefers a more concrete quid pro quo. Pombo’s largest donors, indian tribes, coincidentally have issues coming before him. As reports from June 2004:

Rep. Richard Pombo (R-California), chairman of the House Resources Committee, has accepted $76,500 from 31 tribes and tribal lobbyists.

The nonpartisan Political Money Line examined Federal Election Commission filings of RICHPAC, Pombo’s campaign committee, which raised $300,000 as of last month. Tribes were the largest group of donors.

The Barona Band of Mission Indians of California donated $10,000, the Osage Nation of Oklahoma donated $5,000 and several lobbyists, including Jack Abramoff, gave $5,000.

While Delay has been associated with a win-at-all costs effort for a permanent Republican majority, Pombo has been the go-to guy for anti-environmental causes. As the Chairman for the House Committee on Resources, he has reponsibility for the sound stewardship of environmental resources, a responsibility at odds with his donor list.

One such donor, the Safari Club International, a pro-hunting and anti-Endangered Species group gave Rep. Pombo over $15,000 in campaign contributions and travel expense reimbursements. Among other activities, SCI sponsors wildlife conservation education with lessons such as the following:


  1. Speaking of Pombo Watch, there’s a blog of the same name.

    Keith9:07 pm

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