Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Pombo's tripping on the Marianas

Someone (anonymous) from the Dump Doolittle site has posted a comment to my previous comments about Pombo and the Marianas. It deserves to come to the top level, because, according to this source, the DOJ has, for the first time, issued a subpoena for Pombo's records.

The is BIG, so follow along.

Yesterday, McCloskey stole the show from Pombo's fund raiser. He got better coverage on KGO that Pombo, who was shown walking along looking smug while Pete was willing to talk. Lisa Vorderbrueggen from the Contra Costa Times got a story out very quickly, "Cheney's visit lends support for Pombo."
Neither Pombo nor the vice president were as popular outside the theater, where several dozen protesters carried signs and chanted against the war and Pombo.

McCloskey took advantage of the media crush and delivered news interviews on the sidewalk as the crowd waited in vain for a glimpse of Cheney's first visit to Stockton.

The vice president used a back door.

"I can't imagine Cheney is helping Pombo's reputation," said McCloskey, who came out of retirement to run against the incumbent. "Cheney is less popular in California than Bush." (emphasis mine)

Still, no local reporter has picked up on the series of questions that McCloskey wanted to ask Pombo.

Questions to Congressman Richard Pombo:

1. When did you first become aware of the forced abortions, prostitution and exploitation of young women from the Philippines, China and other Pacific Rim nations in the Marianas Islands?

2. Why have you done nothing to investigate and address the Marianas' problems with forced abortions as described to the Senate by Secretary of Interior Babbitt in l998?

3. Have you ever discussed the Marianas situation with any of the men (Jack Abramoff, Neil Volz and Tony Rudy) who have now pled guilty of bribing or conspiring to bribe Members of Congress?

4. Were you ever asked by Mr. Abramoff or former majority leader Tom DeLay to hold up or block the passage of any legislation which would apply US labor and immigration laws to the Marianas? Have you ever assisted in helping to secure "earmarks" for any project in the Marianas?

5. Have you ever discussed the Marianas or Indian gaming issues with Kevin Ring?

6. Can you explain why you have declined to hold investigative hearings about Jack Abramoff's lobbying efforts with respect to Indian gaming or the forced abortions, prostitution and exploitation of women in the Marianas?

7. Do you feel that your constituents are entitled to full and fair answers to the foregoing questions, particularly prior to an election in which you seek to retain your seat in Congress?

8. Why did you vote for the rule excluding from a "yes" or "no" vote on the Shays Amendment providing for an independent House ethics agency?

But dengre, writing on Pombo and the Marianas at Daily Kos, has more information than we could possible gather ourselves.

Add this to the fact that, though the local press has not gone forward with this story, it made NPR this morning. This is interesting, as the allegations of forced abortions and prostitution that were in McCloskey's questions are validated in the NPR interview with Chris Geslin, a preacher who says that he was "drawn in" by one time DeLay staffer, Ed Buckham.

Will the religious leaders of this district take this to the pulpit Sunday?


Blogger VPO said...

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, was head of the House Resources Committee until the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994. He has been documenting lots of sleazy behavior in regards to the Marianas. See his site at: Miller on Marianas. Note that is George Miller's official House site. Lots of documentation there.

He visited there and was given the official tour, just like Pombo and Norton got during their visit. Miller, however, met surreptitiously with workers at the factories and recorded many abuses and outrages. He found out about the forced abortions, the sweatshops, the prostitution.

Also, Tom DeLay was heavily tied into the Marianas. There was a contract to build a power plant that DeLay strong-armed the Marianas government into accepting Enron's inflated bid. The project collapsed when Enron did, leaving a major disaster there. See: DeLay, Enron, Marianas.

House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX) relishes in describing the Marianas as his personal Galapagos Islands. The 14-island chain of Pacific Islands has long been DeLay's image of a perfect business environment -- virtually devoid of business or environmental regulations. Only one other entity, Enron, curried more favor with DeLay.

Now it is learned that DeLay helped Enron muscle its way into a contract to build a $120 million power plant for the Marianas in a campaign that included smearing the head the island's utility agency who opposed the deal.

"There was all kinds of political interference," said Vicente Mesa, manager of the island's Commonwealth Utilities Corporation. "There were all kinds of political pushes from the top and side and every way....They wanted that contract signed so they could make a quick profit and walk away."

And walk away they did. The Marianas are still without a power plant.

At a critical juncture in negotiations DeLay wrote to Mariana officials, pushing them into Enron's waiting arms. DeLay's former chief of staff, Ed Buckham, and his consulting company, Alexander Strategy Group, were hired by Enron to lobby in favor of their bid. (DeLay's wife receives a salary from Alexander Strategy and Enron contributed $28,900 to DeLay's campaigns.)

A former Marianas power official says now that Island officials were no match for Enron's politically-charged assault. "It was a real learning experience for me," he said.

12:53 PM, May 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post. This story deserves much greater attention.

Fortunately, it looks like the story has at least one leg.

The Tracy Press just covered the Mariana Islands story and included this factoid:

The Senate voted 100-0 to introduce American labor laws to the islands in 2000, but the bill failed in the House, where DeLay had great influence.

10:09 PM, May 24, 2006  

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