Follow the Money - Page 2

Pombo's campaign warchest leads to Abramoff and Big Oil
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Another LA Times article noted that in late 2005, just three months before Pombo inserted language into a budget bill—without debate or hearings—that would have opened public lands, including national forests, to mining operations, Washington lobbyist Duane Gibson organized a $1,000 a plate fundraiser for Pombo. Gibson is a former aide to Pombo’s House Resource Committee and is now under scrutiny in the Abramoff scandal. While the total dollar amount raised that night is unknown, the paper revealed several mining companies made donations to Pombo. Gibson, who also personally contributed $1,000, also represented some of those companies.  

In 2004, Pombo wrote a letter to then Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton urging her to suspend environmental regulations that the wind-power industry opposed. He neglected to mention that his parents own a wind farm on the Altamont Pass, nor did he mention his own stake in his parent’s ranch. Although wind-farm regulation does fall under his committee, it would have been less unseemly had he acknowledged his potential conflict of interest.

In other family matters, Pombo got into hot water for trying to bill the taxpayers almost $5,000 for a two-week family RV vacation by saying it was government related business because he visited several national parks.

Pombo, like many representatives Democrat and Republican, believes in keeping it in the family. He has paid out $357,325 to his wife and brother for bookkeeping, fundraising, consulting and other services to his political activities.

Rep. George Miller (D-Vallejo/Concord) has twice written Pombo with requests that he investigate allegations of sweatshop conditions, prostitution and gambling on the Marianas Islands. No such investigation has been initiated, but readers might remember that Abramoff lobbied extensively to oppose the implementation of U.S. labor and immigration regulations in the Marianas, which are U.S. trust territories. According to Time magazine, Pombo received $8,050 from Northern Mariana islanders following a visit to the islands.

For further fun facts, check out www.opensecrets.org for who gives Pombo what money or Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) www.citizensforethics.org.

Research assistance by Erin Podlipnik