Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a government watchdog group, called on both the I.R.S. and Congress to investigate Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) for alleged ethical violations.
Among the charges (and straight from the CREW website):
•While serving as Chairman of the House Resources Committee, Rep. Pombo may have violated federal bribery laws by providing legislative assistance to Indian tribes in exchange for contributions to his campaign and political action committee, RICH PAC. For example, five days after RICH PAC received a March 10, 2004 $2,500 contribution from the Osage tribe, the Resources Committee held a hearing on a bill giving the tribe sovereign rights enjoyed by other tribes. Three days later, RICH PAC received an additional $2,500.
•Rep. Pombo may have violated the federal theft statute by using federal funds to pay for a 10-day summer family trip in an RV through a number of national parks in the summer of 2005.
•Rep. Pombo may have violated federal law by using his legislative powers to enhance and protect his family’s financial interests. In 2004, Rep. Pombo sent a letter to the Department of Interior urging the suspension of environmental guidelines opposed by the wind power industry without disclosing the fact that his parents had received hundreds of thousand of dollars in royalties from wind-powered turbines on their ranch – a ranch in which Rep. Pombo owns an interest. He has also supported legislation that would enhance the value of his family’s property by authorizing freeways to be built nearby.
•Rep. Pombo violated the franking rules by sending to swing state voters 175,000 copies of a leaflet that openly praised his committee and the Bush administration for overturning limits on snowmobiling in national parks within 90 days of the 2004 election.
•Rep. Pombo violated House rules by interfering in a pending federal banking investigation to protect a campaign contributor by knowingly keeping employees detailed from the Department of the Interior well over the one-year permitted by the House rules and by paying for the long-distance commuting expenses of the House Resources Committee chief of staff, who resides in California.
CREW also asked the I.R.S. to investigate whether or not Pombo violated the tax law by taking two foreign trips courtesy of a private foundation without either paying taxes on the value the trips or reimbursing the foundation for the costs.
Below is a news roundup of CREW’s announcement:
Group targets Pombo
Lisa Vorderbrueggen, Contra Costa Times, May 5, 2006
Pombo under fire from watchdog group
Zachary Coile, The San Francisco Chronicle, May 5, 2006
Look over there
John Upton, Tracy Press, May 5, 2006
Ethics group that targeted DeLay now seeks Pombo
Hank Shaw, The Stockton Record, May 5, 2006