Pombo trips broke tax law, promoted commercial whaling
Marketplace broke this story yesterday, where Pombo accepted $23,000 in travel for him, his wife, and a staffer, from the IFCNR (International Foundation for Conservation of Natural Resources -- it is an industry front group that took on a green name to disguise its true intent). IFCNR is a private foundation, and it is against the law for anyone in Congress to accept travel to overseas destinations when paid for by private foundations.
Pombo was Chairman of one IFCNR's working groups, the SUPU (Sustainable Use Parliamentarians Union) until this July. In fact, he founded SUPU in Nov. 2000 and has been heavily involved in its activities. Also, he was a Governor of the IFCNR. Yet, he claims in the interview below with Marketplace that, "I never heard about them being a private foundation. Obviously I will have my accountant check into this."
It is hard to believe that he could not have known that status of a group he was so involved. As a Governor and as a Chairman of one of its major working groups, Pombo had to know IFCNR was a private foundation. Not only that, he must have known this when he accepted their travel. And being in Congress for so many years, he had to be at least aware of possible ethical and illegal implications of accepting their travel.
This should not be passed off as, "well, he can repay it, and everything is fine". The IFCNR is a highly anti-environmental group, funded by the right-wing and run by Stephen Boynton, a major player in the Arkansas Project. The Arkansas Project was set up by Richard Mellon Scaife to find ways to embarrass and defame Bill Clinton, and eventually led to Paula Jones and to Clinton's impeachment.
The trips that Pombo took were to New Zealand in Nov. 2000 and to Shimonoseki, Japan, in May 2002. Both were SUPU conferences that passed resolutions calling for the resumption of commerical whaling and the exploitation of animals, as well as the blocking of ocean sanctuaries. The May 2002 trip to Japan coincided with the International Whaling Commission's annual meeting in the same Japanese city and was designed to pressure the IWC into easing its ban on whalilng.
Pro-whaling groups (yes, such things exist), praised Pombo, and noted how signficant it was that a US Representative was pushing for commercial whaling, when the official US policy, as well as most of the US public, was opposed to whaling.
Pombo's presence added weight the proceedings. If a US Congressman who is on the Resources Commitee shows up at these conferences, this comes across as a serious breach in official US opinion over whaling bans. It encourages the pro-whaling forces who are usually faced with the strong US opposition.
"WCW [World Council of Whalers] Resolution Read into US Congressional Record
US Congressman Richard Pombo read the WCW General Assembly Resolution into the Congressional Record on June 11,1998. WCW believes this is very significant because the US is one of the IWC member States that continually comes to the IWC forum with a "no whaling" position. We thank Congressman Pombo for his strength and courage to introduce such a controversial resolution into the Congressional record of an anti-whaling nation. Mind you, Congressman Pombo is not new to sustainable resource issues as he represented the US Congress at the CITES Conference held in Zimbabwe in June 1997."
This is a big scandal, and Pombo could be in trouble over his illegal acceptance of gifts from the IFCNR. This goes even deeper in that Monsanto is a major funder of IFCNR and has pushed to exempt its pesticides from regulation under the ESA. Lo and behold, what is in Pombo's latest ESA bill? An exemption for pesticides and herbicides.
The people of the District need to know about these things and who their rep is working for and the kinds of unethical and possibly illegal activities he is involved in.
http://marketplace.publicradio.org/shows/2005/10/18/PM200510184.html (You can either read or listen; Pombo refused to talk to the media.)