Pombo Staffers on the Abramoff Gravy Train
The other day I quoted Josh Marshall calling Richard Pombo “an Abramoff freebie-meister” after Pombo denied ever using the now infamous Abramoff luxury skyboxes. At the time, I pointed out that whereas Pombo might be telling the truth about himself, it did not mean that nobody from his office used the skyboxes.
Today, Josh Marshall has published a list of Pombo staffers who accepted tickets, and to what events. (Hat tip, Tom Hilton). This confirms two things we knew. First, Pombo’s former Press Secretary Doug Heye has horrible taste in entertainment. WWF? My response: WTF? Really? Come on. Okay, maybe he has a child or something. I just hope he didn’t take a date to the circus. That’s all I’m saying. But second, and more important, is that Pombo’s staffers, even when he was a junior member of the House Resources Committee, still were very much aboard the Abramoff gravy train. Check out the list (source):
- February 15th, 2000, Capitals/Avalanche Hockey GameTodd Willens, Legislative Director, 4 tickets
- March 24th, 2000, CircusDouge [sic] Heye, Press Secretary, 2 tickets
- April 30th, 2000, WWF Backlash LiveDoug Heye, Press Secretary, 2 tickets
- August 6th 2000, WWF Attitude (with appearances by The Rock, Triple H, The Big Show, Chyna, Chris Jericho and the Undertaker), MCI Center.Doug Heye, Press Secretary, 2 tickets
- October 2nd, 2000 WWF Raw Is War, MCI Center.Doug Heye, Press Secretary, 2 tickets
It’s important to note that these were not junior staffers. Nor have they left the legislature.
Doug Heye, who now apparently works for Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, was the Brian Kennedy of his day.
And Todd Willens has been promoted to Senior Policy Director of the House Resources Committee. This means that the Senior Policy Director of the committee that oversees Native American tribes received at least four skybox seats gratis from a lobbyist representing those very tribes. In fact, the cost of that very skybox was largely paid by money from the tribes that the Resource Committee oversees.
Not only does this raise troubling ethical questions, but it also raises the question about whether Pombo tolerated such unethical behavior. The promotion of Todd Willens certainly lends credence to the idea that he did and that this tolerance continues to this day.