Enviros were thrilled when Richard Pombo, a Republican who represented California’s 11th congressional district for seven terms, was ousted from his seat by a renewable-energy geek in 2006. Pombo had been deemed Public Enemy No. 1 by the environmental community, which invested big bucks in the effort to beat him.
As chair of the House Resources Committee, Pombo has enjoyed tremendous influence over environmental policy making in recent years. He spearheaded an effort to weaken the Endangered Species Act (which passed the House last year but got nowhere in the Senate), and pushed a bill that would lift a moratorium on offshore drilling (which also passed the House and also didn’t clear the Senate). Less successful have been Pombo’s attempts to green-light drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; sell off more than a dozen national monuments, preserves, and historic sites; allow advertising in national parks; and open vast swaths of public land to development under the guise of mining-law reform.
Pombo was also tainted by dealings with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and other unsavory characters. As David Roberts wrote in a heartfelt tribute upon his defeat, Pombo “embodied the cozy corruption, utter fealty to big industry, and mendacious faux conservatism of the 109th Congress.”
Reports Greenwire, “Since leaving Congress, Pombo has worked for the Oregon-based public relations firm Pac/West Communications, which has worked to ease logging restrictions and at one time backed Pombo’s efforts to overhaul the Endangered Species Act.”
But now Pombo is back, running to represent the 19th congressional district, right next door to his old district. He seeks to replace Rep. George Radanovich (R), who’s retiring.
When Pombo represented Dublin and Pleasanton he wanted to sell off the only national park that was in his district (Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site). Now he wants to represent Yosemite. National Parks were America’s best idea, film director Ken Burns reminds us. Having Richard Pombo represent Yosemite may be America’s worst idea.
Pombo’s aim for a comeback is nothing but a shameless attempt to exploit the revolving door that remains all too common in Washington. After doing the bidding of Big Oil and other special interests during his years in Congress, he literally went to work for the same lobbying firm that backed some his most egregious activities, and now he wants to be sent back to Congress to represent a district where he doesn’t even live. Who does Pombo really want to represent in Congress–the voters of California’s 19th district or his special interest supporters?
After being dumped by voters in one district, it now appears that both Richard Pombo and his Big Oil backers are looking for a taxpayer-funded bail-out from another.
And here’s the Sierra Club’s list of “Pombo’s Greatest Misses”:
- Proposed selling off our national parks, including the only national park in his former district
- Took more than $337,000 in campaign cash from Big Oil
- Tried to gut the Endangered Species Act
- Went on a taxpayer-funded cross-country family vacation
- Backed the George W. Bush administration’s misguided and disastrous effort to decimate our national forests, the so-called Healthy Forest Initiative
- Backed the George W. Bush administration’s efforts to gut the Clean Air Act
- Tried, repeatedly, to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling
- One of the most vocal proponents of disastrous Bush-Cheney energy policy, written by, and for, Big Oil, Dirty Coal, and the nuclear industry
- Named one of the “most corrupt members of Congress” by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, based on his ties to disgraced and convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and numerous other alleged violations of Congressional ethics rules and federal laws.
Other enviro groups are also getting riled up and ready to battle Pombo again.
“We’re not about to stand by and watch Pombo grab his carpetbag and return to Congress a mere four years after we worked so hard to oust him,” Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund President Rodger Schlickeisen said in a statement. “If he runs, we’ll be there to remind voters about his corrupt record and why he was booted out of Congress in the first place.”