It could get ugly.
The L.A. Times story starts off tauntingly:
In a case that echoes the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal, two Northern California Republican congressmen used their official positions to try to stop a federal investigation of a wealthy Texas businessman who provided them with political contributions.
Could it be?
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus:
Reps. John T. Doolittle and Richard W. Pombo joined forces with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas to oppose an investigation by federal banking regulators into the affairs of Houston millionaire Charles Hurwitz, documents recently obtained by The Times show. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was seeking $300 million from Hurwitz for his role in the collapse of a Texas savings and loan that cost taxpayers $1.6 billion.
Hee hee! Looks like the seemingly quixotic quest to bring Pombo down might not be quite so quixotic after all.
Mark Schmitt puts the story in context:
Hurwitz is a really evil guy, James Bond-villain-evil, one of the great corporate criminals of the last few decades. Hurwitz bears the same relationship to most corporate tycoons that Abramoff bears to ordinary sleazeball lobbyists.
He was one of Michael Milken’s junk bond pirates of the 1980s, taking over the savings and loans in question and then a company called Pacific Lumber. To pay off its new junk bond debt, Hurwitz’s conglomerate, Maxxam, stole Pacific Lumber’s pension funds, and then started clearcutting forests at three times Pacific Lumber’s previous rate. The battle over Hurwitz’s plunder of the Headwaters Forest — a range of redwoods on California’s North Coast — was one of the great timber battles of the late 1990s, even spawning a coloring book.
Pombo and Hurwitz are natural allies, of course. Pombo’s pet cause is the virtual elimination of the Endangered Species Act, which was one of, though hardly the only, obstacle to clear-cutting the Headwaters Forest.
More on Hurwitz’s scummy career from Forbes Magazine.
2006: The Year of Schadenfreude.