Remember just last Thursday evening at the Tracy Forum when Richard Pombo was questioned about his connections to Jack Abramoff? According to Erica Werner of the AP, Pombo strongly denied ever being involved with Abramoff:
"I met the guy two or three times in my whole life — he never once lobbied me on anything," Pombo said of Abramoff last week in a debate against McNerney.
Really? The AP story exposes a different version of the story:
Records show the disgraced lobbyist [Abramoff] billed a client for at least two contacts with Pombo a decade ago.Here are the particulars of the Pombo/Abramoff deal:
The lobbying records released by the Northern Mariana Islands show that Abramoff billed once for calls to Pombo, chairman of the House Resources Committee, and a second time for a discussion with him, while lobbying in 1996.
On more than two dozen other occasions from 1996 through 2001, Abramoff associates called or met with members of Pombo's staff, including his chief of staff, the records indicate. As the contacts picked up, Pombo voted Abramoff's way on a bill important to Abramoff's clients.
One focus was legislation in the Resources Committee, of which Pombo was then a junior member, to give the Marianas a nonvoting delegate to Congress. Then-Marianas Gov. Froilan Tenorio was opposed. Abramoff and his associates lobbied the Hill, including a July 29, 1996, contact with Pombo's office.And what do you imagine Pombo’s response is?
Three days later the bill was narrowly defeated in committee. Pombo voted no.
"I have great news!" Abramoff wrote to Tenorio on Aug. 1, 1996. The delegate bill "was DEFEATED at the markup which finished about an hour ago. ... We were able to add four conservative Republicans to the block of Democrat opponents and defeat the bill by a vote of 13-12." […]
On Sept. 10, 1996, Abramoff billed for a discussion with Pombo. Two days later he gave Pombo a $500 donation, the first of what would become $7,500 in campaign contributions. Pombo has since donated the money to charity. On Nov. 21, 1996, Abramoff reported putting in calls to Pombo and other lawmakers.
Pombo spokesman Brian Kennedy disputed the reported contacts, saying direct lobbying by Abramoff "never happened" and the staff-level contacts were "greatly inflated." Abramoff, who pleaded guilty in a congressional corruption investigation, is "an admitted felon" who can't be trusted, Kennedy said.Ouch! Did Pombo just resort to the classic “You can’t trust him because he copped a plea before I did” defense? And just when you thought the guy couldn’t go much lower. I would definitely add some questions about Abramoff and the Marianas to your list: (209) 836-3326.
[UPDATE:] For a really in-depth look at the Pombo/Abramoff/Marianas connection, check out this post by SNTP's Matt O. over at firedoglake.