Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Pombo Shoots The Bull, Part 2

On Saturday, I wrote about Richard Pombo’s participation in a buffalo hunt sponsored in 2004 by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. The main focus of the post was on the fate of the humble prairie dog and how the Rosebud Sioux were hoping to enlist the aid of Pombo in their efforts to rid themselves of ESA regulations that protect the prairie dog and, in the eyes of the tribe, diminish their ranching profits. To that end, the tribe hosted a fundraiser for Richard Pombo where hunters were invited to pay $5,000 to Pombo’s Rich PAC for the privilege of shooting a buffalo from the tribe’s herd. Not coincidentally, Richard Pombo, as chairman of the House Resources Committee, not only has oversight of all policy affecting federally-owned lands, but is responsible for heading up the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

What got me thinking about Pombo’s 2004 event was the recent news that a former deputy assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, David Smith had resigned after an ethics probe where he, too, participated in a buffalo hunt sponsored by a group who had business before his federal agency. Here’s another section from the article I quoted earlier about Smith’s encounter with federal investigators:
Smith did not pay for the hunt, the taxidermy or the 20 pounds of bison meat he put in a cooler and gave to a relative until after investigators began inquiring about the kill, according to the document, which The Washington Post obtained this week through a Freedom of Information Act request. He eventually shelled out $3,170.54 to cover the costs.
Now, the similarities between these two hunting events are striking, with only one exception that I can see.

Pombo never paid for his buffalo.

He also never reported it as a gift on his 2004 Financial Disclosure Statement. And it might be safe to assume that since he never reported the gift, he also never paid taxes on it.

It seems pretty clear-cut here. According to statements filed with the FEC, on April 26, 2004, Rich PAC posted a $5,000 contribution from the Viejas Tribal Government, which acted as a co-sponsor for the April 19 hunt. That is the only donation Pombo’s PAC received that can, in any obvious way, be connected with the fundraiser, which according to an April 20, 2004, report in the Argus Leader was sparsely attended by paying guests. As far as PAC expenditures related to this event, the only potentially related expenditures consist of two $147 rooms at the Holiday Inn Express in Rapid City, South Dakota, that were posted on April 27, 2004.

One other thing about this buffalo hunt is pretty clear. Thanks to the advance publicity for the event, a $5,000 price tag to take a buffalo would seem to be well established. But there is no mention anywhere in the financial records of a $5,000 payment from Pombo or his Rich PAC for the privilege of killing a member of the tribe’s herd. If Pombo paid his way on this excursion, I’m not finding any record of it.

That would mean the $5,000 buffalo was, indeed, a gift (albeit an unreported and untaxed one) from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe to Congressman Richard Pombo, serving in his role as Chairman of the House Resources Committee and head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

So I’ll repeat my question from Saturday, phrasing it a little bit differently: If there are “rules banning federal officials from accepting gifts from people who are regulated by, or might do business with, their agency,” why has there been no federal investigation of this apparently unreported gift to Richard Pombo from the Rosebud Sioux?


Blogger sarah's_life said...

like i'm sorry..but why would u l ike put all ur energy into this
dont understand

10:57 AM, July 26, 2006  
Blogger babaloo said...

Sarah --
like im sorry u dont understand
some of us think its like not cool if r elected officials accept bribes
sorry that doesnt make sense 2u

11:49 AM, July 26, 2006  
Anonymous JohnMac said...

Sarah -- it's about Pombo- if he's breaking the rules over smaller things, like taking a $5000 'gift' of buffalo hunt, or RV trip with his family, doesn't this point to his willingness to break rules over the bigger things? Perhaps rules he's already broken and just haven't come to light? That is the point of an investigation in a matter like this. The same principles are in play in the Marianas Islands sweatshops affair.

1:10 PM, July 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Buffalo are well known pests. They need to be culled.

4:34 AM, July 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Richard Pombo stands for a lot of what is wrong with the government leadership today. I hope that citizens of the district will band together over the next few months and vote him out of office. His disregard for the environment and willingness to corrupt himself for the benefit of himself and his oil and gas buddies is shameful. Pombo, Senator Inhofe, Roy Blunt - they're all in the same dirty basket - vote them out!!!!

4:00 PM, August 05, 2006  
Blogger Corey Cate said...

Richard was chosen by some powerful people to run. He was largely supported by farmers of San Joaquin county, citizens of Stockton and Tracy. Then the district was conveniently changed to make it one of the oddest and convoluted districts I can imagine, to keep him comfortably seated.
I always wondered why his positions were not more resoundingly opposed. Fractured news coverage is probably one reason. (No singly important newspaper to fight him.)
Now, finally, a roots based opposition is formed.
God bless the United States and the freedom of dissent and to speak what is known to be true.
Pombo has gotten nicely rounded in his years of eating the fat from lobbyist's credit cards.
He sure doesn't represent the little guy. How independent ranchers buy that lie is beyond me.
Must be the big hat! Or some claims of private property rights. See how far that gets ranchers in the eventuality of a new road to San Jose taking folks property from them.
His reputation from representation of Timber, Big-Ag, Big Developers, and push for overthrowing environmentally-positive laws is well earned and he's been effective.
That he did not push-back against Tom Delay's hammer tactics does not speak well for any veil he might claim of being an Independently Minded Republican or any sort of maverick.
It's time to change the dynamic.

4:58 PM, August 05, 2006  

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