Pombo's Telephone Defense
Yesterday, the AP’s Erica Werner published an article detailing two different occasions where Jack Abramoff lobbied Richard Pombo and then followed up by making large contributions to Pombo's campaign. Pombo, who is in a tight race and being dogged by allegations of greed and corruption, has adamantly denied ever being lobbied by Abramoff.
Well, Lisa Vorderbrueggen over at the Contra Costa Times has kindly provided her readers with the Official Richard Pombo Version™ of his relationship with Jack Abramoff. The gist of the defense is that Pombo is telling the truth and that Abramoff lied and made up false billing statements to bilk his client, the government of the Mariana Islands. And what evidence is there for this scenario? Well, only the word of Richard Pombo and his spokesman.
The records show that [Abramoff’s firm] Preston Gates billed the Marianas government for a Sept. 10 discussion between Abramoff and Pombo, and a Nov. 21 telephone call from the lobbyist to Pombo, both in 1996.There you’ve got it. Pombo’s entire defense is that he was at home, and EVERYBODY knows better than to call him when he’s at home with his family.
The island government released billing records and correspondence to the Associated Press and other organizations after Abramoff came under federal investigation last year for his work for American Indian tribes.
Pombo spokesman Brian Kennedy said that Congress adjourned in October 1996 and like most lawmakers on recess, the congressman was very likely in his district on Nov. 21 for the Thanksgiving holiday.
He was also probably in his district Sept. 10, Kennedy said.
Although Congress had just reconvened after Labor Day, no votes were scheduled and Pombo typically does not return to Washington until voting begins, Kennedy said.
"His own staff members know better than to call Rich when he's at home with his family unless it's an emergency of the most serious sort, so the notion that this lobbyist would call Richard, who was practically a nobody then, at home is just preposterous," Kennedy said.
So if you have any questions for me, please call me, and I will personally answer any remaining questions you may have about any of these issues.Maybe someone should call Richard Pombo at home and ask him this question: “How come you’re talking to ME on your home phone, but you expect people to believe that Jack Abramoff could never have lobbied you because you don’t talk to people at home unless it’s an emergency of the most serious sort?”
My home phone number is (209) 836-3326.