FBI Probing Pombo-Abramoff Connection
I’m running off to the airport right now, but before I left I wanted to direct your attention to a very promising development. It looks like the FBI has opened a probe into Richard Pombo’s efforts on behalf of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, who are former clients of uber-corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The L.A. Times has the story (hat tip: JaninSanFran):
The Mashpee Wampanoags, famed for greeting the Pilgrims at Plymouth, will be named a nationally recognized tribe — a designation they sought for 30 years so that they could benefit from federal aid programs.
Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist embroiled in a Washington corruption scandal, and his firm championed the Indians' cause and pocketed tens of thousands of dollars in tribal money.
And Rep. Richard W. Pombo (R-Tracy), chairman of the influential House Resources Committee, landed a lucrative source of political donations: the small group of Native Americans whose ancestral lands are about as far from his Northern California district as one can get in the United States.
The trifecta of money, politics and power that quietly came together over the last several years has attracted the attention of a federal law enforcement task force investigating the burgeoning Abramoff scandal.
FBI officials have visited the tribal offices here to obtain financial documents, and other task force investigators in Washington are reviewing what role political leaders and others played in the Mashpee's success.
Where the investigation will lead is unknown. But several people close to Abramoff have pleaded guilty in other aspects of the wide-ranging scandal. And in recent days, several Capitol Hill lawmakers, including Pombo, have returned donations from Abramoff or turned the money over to charity.
Officials do know that the flow of cash from the Mashpee to Abramoff and Pombo is a textbook example of the kind of cases of alleged influence-buying that the task force is assembling.
But what investigators want to determine is whether the Mashpee episode crossed the line into criminal behavior, as other Abramoff ventures allegedly did.
Read the rest of the article.
[Ed note: Those of us at Say No to Pombo are busy fighting the War on Christmas. I think I’ve already lost the Battle of the Bulge this year, but I’m still hoping that I’ll be more able to fend off a post-New Year hangover. In any event, the posting volume is going to be low through the end of the year. And the posts that I put up are probably going to be much less analytical than typical. ]