Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The People v. Richard Pombo

A hat tip to Rolfy Boy at Political Blues for finding these videos — one from House Majority Action and the other from Michael Evensen. Both are amazingly good, the first one on stem cell research and the second one on Pombo’s Hurwitz scandal. Both feature folks speaking out on issues that are important to the people of this nation but not so important to Richard Pombo.

Stem cell research probably doesn’t need much of an introduction. Jerry McNerney held a special press event last week to highlight his position on the issue, and the Contra Costa Times covered the event:
Flanked by a renowned stem cell research advocate, a San Ramon Valley pediatrician and a Danville mother of a 4-year-old daughter with cystic fibrosis, McNerney called embryonic stem cell research an integral component of his health care reform platform.

"Health care is a very important issue to me, and stem cell research is one part of that," said McNerney during a news conference held on the perimeter of a children's playground in San Ramon. "We need to move forward with stem cell research. Our country needs to support it as a tool for our health system."

Pombo has consistently sided with President Bush, who opposes the destruction of human embryos for stem cell research.

The congressman was among 180 Republicans who opposed a bill this past spring that would have expanded federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

As to the other video, for those of you who are not familiar with Pombo’s involvement in the Hurwitz scandal, here’s a brief rundown. The LA Times broke the story on this sordid affair back in January:
Reps. John T. Doolittle and Richard W. Pombo joined forces with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas to oppose an investigation by federal banking regulators into the affairs of Houston millionaire Charles Hurwitz, documents recently obtained by The Times show. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was seeking $300 million from Hurwitz for his role in the collapse of a Texas savings and loan that cost taxpayers $1.6 billion. The investigation was ultimately dropped.

The effort to help Hurwitz began in 1999 when DeLay wrote a letter to the chairman of the FDIC denouncing the investigation of Hurwitz as a "form of harassment and deceit on the part of government employees." When the FDIC persisted, Doolittle and Pombo — both considered proteges of DeLay — used their power as members of the House Resources Committee to subpoena the agency's confidential records on the case, including details of the evidence FDIC investigators had compiled on Hurwitz.

Then, in 2001, the two congressmen inserted many of the sensitive documents into the Congressional Record, making them public and accessible to Hurwitz's lawyers, a move that FDIC officials said damaged the government's ability to pursue the banker.

The FDIC's chief spokesman characterized what Doolittle and Pombo did as "a seamy abuse of the legislative process." But soon afterward, in 2002, the FDIC dropped its case against Hurwitz, who had owned a controlling interest in the United Savings Assn. of Texas. United Savings' failure was one of the worst of the S&L debacles in the 1980s. […]

In key aspects, the Hurwitz case follows the pattern of the Abramoff scandal: members of Congress using their offices to do favors for a politically well-connected individual who, in turn, supplies them with campaign funds.

[UPDATE:] The League of Conservation Voters Action Fund just unveiled a new radio ad that they'll be playing throughout the district — you can listen to the Pombo Mambo here.


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