ESA foe Pombo took two trips paid for by anti-animal-welfare foundation

The ever-widening net of Republican-corruption busting may have snared a green bête noire: Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.). It seems Pombo took two trips, to New Zealand in 2000 and Japan in 2002, underwritten by a nonprofit foundation notable for opposition to environmental and animal-welfare protections. Problem is, tax laws prohibit private, nonprofit foundations from financing international travel by government officials. According to the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity, Pombo, his wife, and a staffer have taken $23,000 worth of international travel paid for by the International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources, whose backers include the Japan Whaling Association and the International Fur Traders Association. “This is an organization that has made a cottage industry out of opposing any animal-welfare reform,” says the Humane Society’s Michael Markarian. Pombo claimed he didn’t know the group was a private foundation and said he’ll reimburse the travel expenses if they prove to violate the tax code.