As the evidence is mounting against Rep. RichPAC Pombo and he keeps demonstrating how corruption stupefies (he genuinely doesn't know he's done anything wrong and never will), we might pause and spend a few minutes getting a perspective on the Congress as a whole, provided in the Oct. 17 listing of Rolling Stone, "The Worst Congress Ever." http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/12055360/cover_story_time_to_go_inside_the_worst_congress_ever
However, as we sit back and spit, let us also consider that these guys aren't moral heroes, their just ordinary, pork-seeking, bribe-taking congressmen. We might contemplate for a moment the sheer rapacity of the special interests who sponsor them as if they were stock cars. Perhaps the day will shortly come when the members of Congress will be required to wear large decals advertising their 10 top contributors just to reach the political junkie segment of the TV audience. The corporations who just cannot pass up the opportunity to bribe a congressman to get a bill that will make them more profits are, if anything, more stupid and corrupt than the moral pygmies we elect to serve in Congress. What lies beneath the congressional corruption scandal is that appears to be much larger than the personal morality of congressmen, a very small thing in itself. The laws, or rather the destruction of Law, is being driven by something powerful. What is it?
Another view from a distance catches something of the anxiety:
The Guardian -- 10-28-06
Republicans facing 'electoral hurricane' in face of centrist Democrat push
Democrats on course to retake House of Representatives but euphoric mood tempered by fears of last-ditch media blitz
Julian Borger in Knoxville
... By several measures, national sentiment is more anti-Congress than it was in 1994, when the Republicans swept to victory with a net gain of 54 seats in the House and eight in the Senate, stunning Bill Clinton's administration. However, even the most optimistic Democrats do not expect a victory on that scale.
"I have a cautionary note to my friends in the Democratic party. This year is different from 94," Dick Gephardt, a former party leader in the House said. "Over the last six months, the Republicans have been on alert that they could lose the election. That was not the case for us in 94, and if you're expecting something, you fight harder."
... For one thing, the Republicans have more money in hand at the end of the campaign. In an election that will end up costing a record total of $2.6bn, the Republicans have a $200m advantage, much of which it will spend in the last few days. According to Jennifer Dunn, a former Republican congressman, her party has more money on hand than the Democrats in 19 of the closest 25 House races. In the Tennessee Senate contest, Mr Corker has raised nearly $13m, more than $4m more than Mr Ford. Furthermore the Republican contender can count on much more financial help from Republican headquarters in Washington than his Democratic rival.
Oct. 26, 2006
San Francisco Chronicle
Money flows to Democratic challengers in California House races...Erica Werner,
Democratic challengers in two hot Northern California congressional races out-raised the GOP incumbents during the first 18 days of October, as Democratic hopes rise for retaking the House. Both national political parties are spending in the district, with the GOP pouring in more than $1.3 million to protect Pombo.
Only corrupt Republicans should be afraid of Pelosi...Brad Baker
Local Republican congressmen are stoking the fear. Republican incumbents Richard Pombo, John Doolittle and George Radanovich need fearful voters. They're desperate to protect their seats and their majority party power. Congressmen, your party has led us to record-high deficits, a cascade of corruption scandals, a war without end, environmental plunder, the disastrous mismanagement of Hurricane Katrina, the subversion of Constitutional rights, and the United States' crumbling respect and credibility in the world. Let me whisper this to you gently: You guys are the scary ones. We're getting threats about Pelosi from local Republicans who helped turn the Capitol into a snake pit. They all backed Tom DeLay for their majority leader. Pombo and Doolittle have been linked to the Jack Abramoff investigation. Radanovich's ethics were challenged in a land deal that allowed him to keep his winery when his investors lost everything. Only Republican incumbents should be afraid. The rest of us desperately need a change.
Negativity rules campaign ads...John Upton
Attack ads permeate local campaign material, and candidates of all partisan stripes are striking back. “If I were simply a private citizen and not an elected member of Congress, the litany of attacks against me and my family would constitute libel, slander and defamation of character,” wrote Pombo in a Wednesday e-mail to his supporters. “If Jerry McNerney were simply a private citizen and not a Congressional candidate for change, the litany of lobbyist-funded attacks against him and his family would constitute libel, slander and defamation of character,” Yoni Cohen said.
Election 2006...From the dirty tricks of Jerry McNerney's supporters to the money trail behind certain City Council candidates, more voters sound off about the upcoming election.
Trash McNerney tactics...Monica Dias, Tracy...Jerry McNerney campaign signs illegally placed in our public right of ways. For a man who professes to care so much about the environment, he evidently could care less about the visual pollution he is creating all over Tracy. Tracy’s parks and roads belong to the citizens, not the McNerney campaign. The city should immediately direct municipal workers to remove all the illegal McNerney signs from public property and throw them in the trash, where McNerney and his underhanded campaign tactics belong.
Vote against TRAZC...Dve Dawson, Tracy...TRAQC has accused members of the Tracy City Council of taking developer money, and it has accused developers of creating a monopoly over the housing market, yet TRAQC has taken developer money and is trying to create a monopoly on the City Council.
Follow the money!...Janet Greenhow, Tracy...Have you noticed the enormous amounts of money being thrown into Ives’ campaign and the costly ads falsely denying Garamendi’s concern for Tracy, all the while the city doggedly pursues the developer contracts.
McNerney won't make us saft...Steve Reshakis, Tracy...“Tough tactics produce leads,”...Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean and the rest, including liberal McNerney, cannot be trusted with the lives of our children.
Police our government...Kendra Niedziejko, Brentwook...Republican or Democrat, anyone with a grocery list of documented (even questionable) ethical violations should not only be voted out, but also removed from their existing position. It is our duty as citizens to start policing our government and expecting better of our leaders. It’s disgraceful that a local congressman is listed on the 13 most corrupt politicians’ list.
Contra Costa Times
'Pull untrue ad," Pombo demands...Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, has demanded a Sacramento area cable company pull a campaign ad placed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The television spot said Pombo voted to hike his congressional salary eight times while voting against a $1,500 bonus for troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. "The ad is entirely false," wrote Pombo campaign consultant Wayne Johnson in a letter to Comcast, which broadcasts in the San Joaquin County portion of District 11. The Democratic committee spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield said the party stands fully behind the ad... The dispute over the allegations in the ad offer a glimpse into the world of political spin and congressional machinations that would make Machiavelli blush. On the pay-raise issue, the argument centers on whether or not procedural battles over the automatic cost-of-living increase for members of Congress constitutes a direct vote on salaries. According to a Congressional Research Service report updated in April, the annual increase goes into effect unless lawmakers vote to stop it. Pombo said he has voted to block the increase four times since he took office in 1993. The congressman also voted in for a 1996 spending bill, which included the automatic pay increase. The salary of a member of the House of Representatives has risen 11 times and been denied five times since 1990. The eight votes referenced in the Democratic committee's ad involve the annual attempt of Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, to deny the pay hike through an unrelated bill, a violation of House rules. Bedingfield said that journalists have for years reported this procedural vote as de facto pay hike. "The bottom line is that when the votes came up, Richard Pombo voted to give himself a raise," Bedingfield said. Pombo voted against a failed 2003 bill that author Rep. Bart Stupack, D-Michigan, had said would direct $265 million from an Iraq reconstruction account to fund the bonus. Pombo's staff letter to Comcast calls the assertion false because its text did not specify that funds would go to the bonus. But Pombo said he voted no, along with war hero Jack Murtha, D-Penn., because he opposed the diversion of money intended to help secure Iraq and end the war. "A $1,500 check doesn't do you much good if means you are away from your family another year," Pombo said. Pombo also objected to the ad's portrayal of him as anti-military because several weeks before the bonus legislation he voted
for a 4.1 percent raise for all military personnel.
Rep. Pombo's refusal to investigate Jack Abramoff exposed in hard-hitting, but humorous, television ad...Rick Bielke, Money Watch
Newswire/ -- Rep. Richard Pombo's refusal to investigate convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff's lobbying on behalf of clients from the Northern Mariana Islands is the subject of one of the most creative and compelling television ads of the fall in the northern California district...
Entitled "Baker's Dozen." The ad is being run by Campaign Money Watch. "Richard Pombo needs to be held accountable for his inaction on serious human rights abuses, in apparent payback to lobbyists and campaign donors," commented David Donnelly, director of Campaign Money Watch. "Despite mounting evidence, he's refused to investigate anything to do with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Money may not buy everything, but perhaps it buys blinders for Pombo."
Pom and Jerry...Amanda Griscom Little
A year ago it was virtually unthinkable that Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) -- right-wing darling, fundraiser extraordinaire, champion of polluting industries, and enemy No. 1 of the environmental community -- could be unseated by any Democrat, much less one with zero political experience to his name. But now, a week and a half before Election Day, the rookie Democratic challenger in California's 11th District, Jerry McNerney, is giving Pombo a run for his (prodigious amounts of) money. "There's panic in the Pombo campaign," says Rico Mastrodonato, Northern California director of the California League of Conservation Voters. And now [Pombo's] in a dead heat with a guy who just months ago he thought he could eat for breakfast." Not surprisingly, environmeMntal groups have flocked to McNerney's side. Green groups have deployed an extensive on-the-ground outreach campaign to rally votes for McNerney. And it's not just enviros who are rallying behind McNerney. The local media is overwhelmingly endorsing the neophyte Democrat and sparing little subtlety in editorials skewering Pombo...Modesto Bee, San Jose Mercury, The Sacramento Bee. As it is, Pombo isn't saying much of anything. In the midst of the most important political battle of his career, he is reportedly refusing to talk to the press.
McNerney on Domestic Spying...Press Release
The Jerry McNerney for Congress campaign today responded to a desperate incumbent's slanderous television advertisement. Attempting to avoid being held accountable for flip-flopping on warrantless wiretapping, Pombo is misrepresenting McNerney's position in a new television ad. "In May, Pombo agreed with McNerney that current law provides law enforcement with the tools necessary to monitor terrorist communications and prevent future attacks," said McNerney communications director Yoni Cohen. "Pombo also agreed with McNerney that the government should not spy on American citizens without first obtaining a warrant. But in September, Pombo flip-flopped, embracing President Bush's unconstitutional attack on American liberties. California residents can't trust Pombo to keep his word. Why should they trust him with their vote?"
CLAIM: Pombo's vote for the Electronic Surveillance Modernization Act in September is consistent with his statement at a Republican forum in May. (Tracy Press, 10/12/06).
FACT: Pombo initially said law enforcement should monitor phone calls between suspected terrorists only after getting a warrant. In May, Pombo proclaimed: "I believe that when monitoring phone calls or amassing a list of where people call, even though it is specifically targeted at people that are believed to be associated with terrorist groups, that it does have to go through the normal process, that [intelligence officers] do have to get a warrant issued before they take advantage of having that opportunity." (Tracy Press, 10/12/06).
Four months later, Pombo voted to allow the government to spy on American citizens before obtaining a warrant.
CLAIM: "According to his own published answers to Vote Smart, McNerney would stop law enforcement from monitoring terrorist phone calls." (Pombo TV Ad, "Our Time")
FACT: McNerney would encourage law enforcement to monitor terrorist phone calls in a manner consistent with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
McNerney's position is consistent with his response(s) to an online questionnaire.
Notably, Project Vote Smart prohibits the use of its name or survey in any negative partisan activity, including advertising. According to the organization's website, "Project Vote Smart does not permit the use of its name or programs in any negative campaign activity, including advertising, debates, and speeches" (Associated Press, 10/24/06).
Oct. 25, 2006
No sure things this time...Robin Hindrey
Scandal fallout could hurt Pombo, Doolittle. Although California is 3,000 miles from the nation's capital, it's not far enough for either incumbent to escape the fallout from Washington's lobbying and congressional page scandals or the Bush administration's roundly criticized Iraq policies.
Sacramento Bee Editorial
The Bee recommends
District 11: Jerry McNerney
Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton is a political neophyte, a Ph.D. engineer who attended West Point, once worked at Sandia National Laboratories and now owns a wind power company. This, like any election with an incumbent, is a referendum. Richard Pombo work for special interests is at the diseased heart of the quid-pro-quo process that defines Washington politics today. To send him back to the Capitol endorses a system we can no longer tolerate. (Read more)
District 4: Charlie Brown
It's time to replace 16-year incumbent John Doolittle, R-Roseville, and send Democrat Charlie Brown of Roseville to Congress. Doolittle is emblematic of what's wrong in Washington. Brown was a career Air Force pilot and worked eight years in the Roseville Police Department. Brown has a lifelong commitment to public service. (Read more)
Pombo should be re-elected, but needs to change...Editorial
Pombo has become an influential insider susceptible to the enticements and temptations of political power in the nation's capital. The forces arrayed against him in his re-election campaign are an indication of just how powerful he's become - and how he has faltered. The Record endorses Pombo for an eighth term in Congress, but its support is qualified. His Democratic opponent, Pleasanton wind energy consultant Jerry McNerney, has almost no background as a public policy-maker. He's a stronger candidate than his first run at Congress two years ago, but not strong enough. Pombo has found it difficult to counter the criticism. Some of it is accurate. Some is based on falsehoods. Some is rooted in interpretation. Or distorted. If he survives the McNerney challenge, Pombo will have a choice to make: Continue in the same direction or heed the criticism and do some things differently. If re-elected, he must shut the doors of vulnerability - or two years from now, he'll find a more experienced Democrat presenting an even stronger challenge.
McNerney files ad complaint...Press staff report
The team behind Democrat Jerry McNerney filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission regarding an advertisement aired by his opponent, Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy. The mandatory message from Pombo saying that he authorized the advertisement came at the beginning, instead of at the end, of a television advertisement, as FEC rules demand. Yoni Cohen, said the mistake shows Pombo has a habit of bending rules..said the mistake could cost the Pombo campaign money that could otherwise have been used to pay for more advertising because it could be forced to pay TV stations money as a penalty.
San Francisco Chronicle
Santa Cruz - 3 lawsuits challenge UC campus growth...Tanya Schevitz
The University of California's plan to expand its Santa Cruz campus has attracted a spate of lawsuits. University officials have argued that they followed all requirements for approval...also contend that the campus has to grow in order to meet the educational needs of the state.
National parties upping the ante as Pombo battles to keep seat...Rachel Gordon
Republican Rep. Richard Pombo of Tracy, once expected to cruise to re-election after easily subduing a primary challenge, now finds his House seat threatened by the Democratic wave that seems to be building across the country. Analysts say the contest for Pombo's district, which includes much of San Joaquin County and parts of three Bay Area counties, has tightened... When the campaign ends, the race between Pombo and Democrat Jerry McNerney, 55, a Pleasanton wind energy consultant, is expected to have cost upwards of $10 million, making it one of the priciest congressional battles ever in California, say campaign strategists.
Contra Costa Times
Outsiders converge on contentious race...Lisa Vorderbrueggen
It's crowded on the Congressional District 11 campaign trail. Nearly two dozen groups are burning shoe leather, Internet time, money or all three in the contentious contest between GOP Rep. Richard Pombo of Tracy and Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton. In a clear sign that both sides believe they can win, the district's 350,000 registered voters are awash in precinct walkers, rallies, radio and TV ads, e-mail solicitations, phone calls and fundraisers.
Oct. 24, 2006
Reality check on ad from McNerney...Hank Shaw
The Record will examine the claims made in advertisements various candidates or political groups air locally this election season. Here is one ad released last week from Democrat Jerry McNerney. The ad: "Lost Limbs."Claim: Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, voted to raise his pay by $30,000. The facts: False. The last time Congress voted to raise its pay was in 1991, two years before Pombo arrived in Washington. Claim: Pombo voted against a measure that would add $53 million to the federal research budget for new prosthetics; the proposal is in response to the large number of Iraq war veterans returning home with lost limbs. The facts: Yes, Pombo voted against it...
The key vote in question was an amendment to a larger defense appropriations bill offered... Melancon and his supporters - mostly Democrats - argued that even though a "yes" vote would use $169 million in base-reduction money to get $53 million in new prosthetics money (congressional accounting rules are arcane), the base-reduction process would be going on for a long time, and the needs of the returning vets were immediate.
Pombo camp rebukes accusers...John Upton
The campaign manager for Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, described anti-Pombo campaigners linked to Defenders of Wildlife as “scum” after they accused Pombo in a mailer of refusing to investigate child prostitution, forced abortion and sweatshop labor in the Mariana Islands while he was “under the influence” of convicted felon and former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Brian Kennedy, a spokesman for Pombo’s campaign and the House Resources Committee that Pombo chairs, would not rule out that employees at Preston Gates & Ellis, which employed Abramoff, might have lobbied Pombo or his staff on behalf of the Mariana Islands government. Dennis Stephens, a former Pombo staffer employed since 1995 as a lobbyist for Preston Gates, attended a $500 Pombo fundraiser Oct. 23, 1997, and discussed Mariana Islands issues with Pombo and Rep. John Doolittle, R-Rocklin, according to election filings and Preston Gates billing records released by the Marianas. Kennedy said he couldn’t comment on the fundraiser because it was nine years ago, but he said the Preston Gates invoices “scream of padding.”
San Francisco Chronicle
Doolittle, Pombo face unexpectedly tough re-election fights...Robin Hindery, AP
Like many endangered House Republicans, John Doolittle and Richard Pombo enjoyed years of job security most politicians would envy. But no one is envying their re-election prospects now... Although California is 3,000 miles from the nation's capital, it's not far enough for either incumbent to escape the fallout from Washington's lobbying and congressional page scandals or the Bush administration's roundly criticized Iraq policies. The defeat of Doolittle and Pombo, both from normally safe Republican districts, could prove pivotal.Through their political action committees, groups including the Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters and Environmental Action have spent about $1 million on anti-Pombo advertising since California's June primary. The Republican Party has taken notice of both congressional races. The National Republican Congressional Committee has contributed more than $153,000 to Doolittle and more than $650,000 to Pombo as of Oct. 23. President Bush visited both districts this month on a fundraising sweep. As of Sept. 30, both incumbents held a financial edge. Pombo had $1.1 million in his campaign fund... The incumbents also are banking on party loyalty to carry them through another re-election.
Oct. 23, 2006
Two lawmakers with Abramoff ties in tight...Martin Kasindorf
TRACY, Calif. — Rep. Richard Pombo's record as chairman of the House Resources Committee has environmental groups so riled that they're spending more than $1 million to beat the seven-term Republican on Nov. 7. In a normally ironclad GOP district that Pombo won with a 61% majority two years ago, polls show that the environmentalists' TV spots and doorbell-ringing are helping to make him a candidate for the politically endangered list. The Sierra Club calls Pombo, a Stetson-wearing cattle rancher, an "eco-thug." The League of Conservation Voters says he advances a "radical, anti-conservation agenda." The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund voted him "wildlife villain of the year." Rolling Stone magazine dubs him "enemy of the earth." Brian Kennedy, a spokesman for Pombo, says the environmental groups "need a boogeyman to sell their message and raise money," and that Pombo disagrees with "the very left-leaning ... organizations on the best approaches to protecting our environment."Polls show races tightening for Pombo and Republican Rep. John Doolittle, worrying GOP leaders enough that President Bush flew out this month to raise $400,000 for Pombo and $600,000 for Doolittle in their districts. After commissioning three private polls it won't release, the National Republican Congressional Committee has spent $625,000 on Pombo. "
Green political groups throwing mud...Cory Reiss, Washington Bureau
A recent mailer to voters in a House district south of San Francisco Bay accused the incumbent Republican, Rep. Richard Pombo, of failing to act on "documented charges of child prostitution, forced abortion and sweatshop labor." The only mention of the environment was in the disclosure: Paid for by Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund. The mailer ties Pombo, chairman of the House Resources Committee, to corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who represented business interests in the North Marianas Islands, a U.S. territory where abuses have been alleged. The Pombo race holds particular interest for Florida, home to many endangered species and epicenter of the offshore drilling fight. When environmental groups talk about environmental issues in Pombo's district, it is often to argue that Pombo is "in the pocket" of Big Oil. Pombo is unapologetic about his efforts to, in his view, fix an outdated endangered species law and provide offshore energy to the country while preserving the ability of states to keep drilling more than 100 miles from shore. Pombo's campaign says some allegations by environmentalists are "subhuman" and unwarranted. He denies any significant contact with Abramoff or hint of influence.
Grass roots on firs in midterm campaign...Sari Gelzer
Pombo Meets His Match - Jerry McNerny's "People Power." Strong grass-roots mobilization paired with a dissatisfaction with Pombo's support of Big Oil's and developer's interests over his local constituents' needs has brought even Republican voters to the conclusion that they are no longer being represented by their Republican candidate, with some choosing to vote for McNerny this election.
CNN "Broken Government" To Air Thursday Night
Thurs. 8PM CNN will air a segment on the House Republican-led effort "To allow Congress to reverse the judgments of the United States Supreme Court." Pombo is featured prominently in the ad for the show. 8PM Thurs; rebroadcast at 11PM.
Pombo and his flawed ethics don't deserve support
Oct 21, 2006 - 07:16:49 am
www.lodinews.com/articles/2006/10/24/opinion/guzzardi/guzzardi_061021.txt - 52k
Last week, the Lodi News-Sentinel tepidly endorsed Congressional incumbent Richard Pombo, citing vague reasons like "bright," "amiable," and has "solid conservative values." But the News-Sentinel then listed alarming reasons not to support Pombo, including donations he received from convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and from the Indian tribes whose fortunes he oversees in the House. And the News-Sentinel noted that Pombo has hired and retained his wife to work on his re-election staff. Unmentioned is that Pombo also hired his brother and paid both over the last three election cycles more than $370,000 for "bookkeeping" and "consulting."If you don't think these salaries are excessive for the jobs performed, just try to imagine what you, as a non-Pombo family member would be paid. More abuses that the News-Sentinel did not include but which are written up by the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct are Pombo's support of two new freeway projects (the Pombo family owns 1,500 acres near the freeway), his opposition to environmental standards, an excessive and inappropriate use of franking privileges and use of federal funds for campaign expenses…
Oct. 22, 2006
Shaping the future of agriculture-rich Valley...Hank Shaw
TRACY - Richard Pombo's cattle ranch sprawls over the suede hillsides of the Coastal Range. Several hundred Angus - black and red - mixed with young Holsteins bound for dairies from Tulare to Tulelake wander the open feedlot below his house. Whether he wins or loses his bid for an eighth term in Congress, Pombo will always have his herd. Pombo is vice chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and is in line to take over that panel in 2009 - if he wins and if his fellow Republicans retain control of the House. Pombo's opponent, Pleasanton wind energy consultant Jerry McNerney, is not an expert on agriculture. He said securing a seat on the Agriculture Committee is not one of his top priorities should he beat Pombo next month, but McNerney says he is rapidly getting up to speed on the industry's issues. Pombo and McNerney agree that the key to next year's Farm Bill debate...
Pombo denies doing big favors for Big Oil...Rep. Richard W. Pombo, R-Tracy
The Record's decision to run a Los Angeles Times story last Sunday ("Pombo bill gives tax incentives to oil companies") was a disservice to readers. The Times has a penchant for tainting its reporting with a liberal slant and willfully neglecting the facts...subject of this story was legislation passed by the House of Representatives in June that was designed to increase American energy supplies from a resource known as oil shale. To put it to work for consumers, however, we must create incentives for producers to invest the necessary risk capital in America instead of overseas. The oil-shale legislation does that by giving them a break on production royalties - or taxes. This upfront incentive to invest in America - or "tax break for Big Oil" as liberals who fail to understand supply-and-demand principals in a global free-market economy like to put it - would create hundreds of thousands of good jobs, generate billions in corporate income tax revenue for the federal government and lessen our dependence on foreign sources. Describing this legislation as a "favor to Big Oil" is intellectually bankrupt and constitutes journalistic malpractice. Was I doing oil companies a favor when I sponsored the House-passed legislation to recover $13 billion in lost royalty payments they owe the taxpayers?
Oct. 21, 2006
Vote could change balance of power...Michael Doyle, Sun-Star Washington Bureau
Democratic control of Congress would be a mixed bag for California and the Central Valley, shifting power, status and priorities in ways that defy easy pre- election reckoning. "I don't expect it to happen," Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa, said of a Democratic takeover... Democrats increasingly anticipate they will retake control of the House and possibly the Senate on Nov. 7. "It becomes possible I could be a subcommittee chairman," mused Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, "but I don't know yet what will be available or offered." University of California political scientist Bruce Cain added that a chairman's powers will vary with the style of party leadership. "We have not done anything besides preliminary discussions," Cardoza said. "We don't want to put the cart before the horse." Other California muscle is also at risk. Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, chairs the House Resources Committee. Californians lead the House Appropriations and Armed Services committees, overseeing money and the military. A conservative Californian oversees jobs and schools, as chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Brian Kennedy, spokesman for Pombo's House Resources Committee, adding that a Democratic takeover "obviously would affect the Valley's ability to bring home certain projects." Besides chairmanships, some Californians could gain influence in a Democratic-controlled House. Cardoza and Fresno Democrat Jim Costa, for instance, belong to the centrist Blue Dog Coalition. The group's three dozen middle-of-the-road members would like to be the dealmakers in a narrowly divided House. But this also poses some political risk for individual members; for instance, if a liberal House leadership began expecting party discipline from the centrist Democrats in order to pass high-profile bills.
San Francisco Chronicle
Pombo's letter fills the mailbox
U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo's ludicrous complaint (Letters, Oct. 19) in response to The Chronicle's endorsement of his opponent deserves a point-by-point response....RODGER SCHLICKEISEN, President Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund Washington, D.C.
-- He repeats his claim that the only "link" between him and convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff is Abramoff's unsolicited donations to his campaign. Hogwash. Abramoff's own billing records show that he lobbied Pombo and his staff 13 times between 1996 and 2001.
-- He denies that he favors drilling off California's coast because the legislation he sponsored only permitted it and didn't require it. If Pombo didn't support drilling, all he had to do was let the moratorium continue. But instead, he proposed to allow it if and when a willing governor won election.
-- He goes through his repeated assertion that he wasn't weakening the science in the Endangered Species Act and suggests that the House's passage of his bill somehow vindicates him. Why, then, was his bill repudiated by endangered species experts and editorial boards across the country? So extreme was his bill that not even the Bush administration promoted it, and it died when the Republican-controlled Senate refused to consider it.
-- He wants us to forget his proposal to sell off 15 national parks. The fact is that he actually drafted a full bill...
-- He claims that the only role disgraced House Majority Leader Tom DeLay played in securing for him the chairmanship of the Natural Resources Committee was to vote for him. Nonsense. It was well known in Washington that Pombo was able to leapfrog over many senior Republicans on that committee only because DeLay insisted Pombo, one of his lieutenants, be given the position. Several moderate Republicans were so angered by the slight to other, more senior, more deserving and more respected committee members that they actually spoke to the press about it, which duly reported it for the public to read. The reporting was not refuted. Suffice it to say that The Chronicle made a wise endorsement when it chose to endorse Jerry McNerney rather than the incumbent, who is not only the most extreme anti-environmentalist in Congress, but also has been identified as one of the 13 most corrupt members of Congress. California and the nation deserve better.
Has he forgotten?...PETER PETROSKI, Danville...Editor -- Richard Pombo's letter states "I never suggested, proposed, voted for, or endorsed" the selling off of national parks. At the Oct. 5 debate in Tracy, he told the audience "I floated the idea to see what interest there was." Thursday night at a forum in Dublin, he took the middle ground and asserted "It was a proposal some of the staffers worked on, not something I did." The "truth" to Mr. Pombo seems to be set in a geopolitical context: The more left (San Francisco) we are, the more he distances himself from his message to his core constituency. To continue the recent crossover trend, I, a Danville Republican, will not vote for Richard Pombo.
Condemned critics...DAN JULIAN, Kensington...Editor -- Richard Pombo, in his angry response to The Chronicle's endorsement of Jerry McNerney for Congress, included among many other complaints against The Chronicle that their article was laden with "heresy."
'Dullard's' dictionary...DAVE MURPHY, Petaluma...Editor -- Yet another reason not to vote for Richard Pombo: He doesn't know the difference between ''hearsay'' and ''heresy.''
For the record ... THOMAS LETCHFIELD, Palo Alto...Editor -- In his Oct. 19 letter, "Richard Pombo fires back," he exposes the many errors and misstatements in your editorial opposing him. In fairness, I think you ought to acknowledge them. I'm not holding my breath.
Not forthright...CATHERINE GODLEWSKI, Dublin...Editor -- As a constituent of Richard Pombo's, I contacted his office via e-mail several times, urging him to support the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. A phone call was also logged to his office. After months, a response specific to this piece of legislation was finally received from Mr. Pombo's office, including that the bill had passed. What Mr. Pombo failed to include was he had voted to reject it. Fact.
Not representing us...MARIAM ES-HAQ, Stockton ...Editor -- Richard Pombo is a poster child for corruption
Contra Costa Times
Show Pombo you oppose sex trade...Paul Corrado, Livermore
IS THERE a connection between young women forced into the sex trade, forced to have abortions, working 12 to 14 hour days in sweatshops, and Rep. Richard Pombo's House chairmanship? Any credence to the bipartisan outrage by Alaska's governor, conservative Republican Frank Murkowski, and House Democrat George Miller about this happening on American soil? Yes. Has Miller asked Pombo to hold hearings on these conditions? Yes. Rebuffed? Yes. Did the Senate vote to apply U.S. labor laws to the U.S. Territory Northern Mariana Islands, whose capital is Saipan? Yes, unanimously. Was an attempt to bring this issue to the floor of the House thwarted when Pombo refused to hold hearings? Yes. Is clothing made in Saipan labeled "Made in USA"? Yes. After spending two hours Internet researching what I believed to be hyperbola, an ugly picture emerged.
Saipan Revisited...Kathrine Spillar, Executive Editor of Ms. Magazine...National/Summer 2006
Ms. cover story sparks ire and action; more Abramoff scandals uncovered. “Article ignores the great strides we’ve made.” That was the headline in the Saipan Tribune in response to the Spring 2006 Ms. cover story on abusive garment sweatshops, forced abortions and sex trafficking in the Northern Mariana Islands (of which Saipan is the largest).
Congressman Geroge Miller...US House of Representatives
Abramoff-Congress Scandal Includes Labor/Immigration/Electoral Abuse in U.S. Territory...Congressman George Miller
From: Office of Congressman George Miller
Date: January 3, 2006
Subject: Abramoff-Congress Scandal Includes Potential Electoral Fraud and Blocking Congressional Efforts to Stop Labor, Human Rights, and Immigrations Abuse in the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (U.S. CNMI)
The announcement today of a guilty plea by Republican Lobbyist Jack Abramoff provides an important opportunity to bring Abramoff and others to justice for a number of crimes. It also provides a significant opportunity to fully uncover a long-standing but unresolved scandal involving Abramoff, members of Congress, their staff, and others to prevent Congress from passing legislation to end serious labor, human rights, and immigration abuses in the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and to investigate interference with local elections in that U.S. territory. “In addition to the million-dollar payment involving the London law firm, for example, half a million dollars was donated to the U.S. Family Network by the owners of textile companies in the Mariana Islands in the Pacific, according to the tax records. The textile owners -- with Abramoff's help -- solicited and received DeLay's public commitment to block legislation that would boost their labor costs, according to Abramoff associates, one of the owners and a DeLay speech in 1997.”-- Washington Post story, 12/31/05
Below is a link to the series of letters between Miller and Chairman Pombo and the Justice Department explaining the need for a full investigation of Abramoff’s dealing with the U.S. CNMI and the role that members of Congress, their staffs, and other lobbyists played in blocking reform legislation and possibly interfering in local elections. http://www.house.gov/georgemiller/abramoff.html
Oct. 20, 2006
McNerney for Congress...Editorial
During his 14 years in the House of Representatives, Richard Pombo has represented the 11th Congressional District, which stretches from San Joaquin County to Santa Clara County. Along the way he has amassed a dubious list of financial supporters -- development interests, Indian gaming tribes, oil companies, foreign mining concerns and some of the most corrupt people in Washington, D.C. To earn that support, Pombo has embraced potentially disastrous environmental policies; suggested selling off national parks; tried to engineer giveaways of natural resources; and embraced drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and off both coasts. All of these interests have returned his support in the form of contributions. This record speaks for itself -- and loudly enough that voters should get the message and return Pombo to private life. If you prefer the politics of extremes; if you're OK with selling off national parks; if backroom deal-making and tainted money suit you; if you embrace out-of-balance budgets and the concentration of wealth -- Pombo's your man. But he is no longer representing the true interests of his district, state or nation. That's ample reason for voters to send Jerry McNerney to Congress.
Election 2006...Voice of Voters
Congressman cares for us...Ralph Jones, Tracy... EDITOR, I will vote for Congressman Richard Pombo on Nov. 7 because he knows the issues and cares about his constituency. He knows whom he went to Washington to represent — we the voters who commute across the Altamont, the ones that $3-a-gallon gas matters the most. I have lived in Tracy nearly 11 years and have seen my commute time to Silicon Valley nearly double while wages stagnanted and gas prices more than doubles. Pombo knows his constituency. This is why I support him. Whether it is his support for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska or drilling off the coast of California to support America’s thirst for oil, I agree. His proposal for a new highway route to the Bay Area, relieving the congestion on the crowded Interstate 580-205 corridor is but one more reason that we have sent the right person to Washington. On a personal note, Pombo lent me his support when I lost my security clearance after 20 years working in the defense industry. It was a small matter, a misunderstanding. Pombo allowed me, Mr. Private Citizen, to be heard. Upon enlisting his help, the matter was quickly resolved. That is why I know and believe that Pombo does not take the voice or vote of his constituency for granted.
Pombo linked to Ives...Mike Boyd, Soquel... EDITOR, Washington, D.C., lobbyist money has finally made it to Tracy with the announcement that Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, gave $25,000 for the defeat of Brent Ives’ mayoral opponent, Celeste Garamendi. That’s a nice payoff for Ives, who has supported the Pombo family’s economic interests surrounding the old antenna farm. Pombo’s family owns land around the antenna farm, and in order to keep a prison off the site, Pombo passed legislation to sell the property to the city so Tracy’s children can play soccer over 36-inch and 24-inch natural gas pipelines. In 1999, the Tracy Planning Commission turned the site down for Tracy Learning Center because placing students near large gas pipelines is not a great idea. Doesn’t matter to Pombo and Ives, since there is money to be made. The antenna farm is also located next to the Tracy Biomass Plant and the Owens-Illinois glass container plant, two of the top industrial polluters in San Joaquin County. The San Joaquin Valley Pollution Control District said there was a less hazardous site for the sports park, but Ives and Pombo have their own agenda. Looks like the next endangered species Pombo is targeting may be the children in Tracy.
Oct. 19, 2006
By David L. Dayen
After the census of 2000, Democrats and Republicans in the state Legislature
made a Faustian bargain, agreeing to preserve their own hides by
gerrymandering the state so resolutely, and so specifically, that it would
be impossible to ever flip seats from one party to the next. It was a
textbook example of what is wrong with politics; an example not of the
voters picking their representatives, but the representatives picking the
voters. In virtually all elections since, this theory held, with every
single seat remaining in the same party's hands in 2004.
But, as Robert Burns once wrote, "The best laid plans of mice and men oft go
awry." In fact, there are at least two House races in California this year
that are defying the odds, and if these two Democrats are successful, they
could help to shift the balance of power in Congress. In CA 11, incumbent
Rep. Richard Pombo is facing wind energy expert and businessman Jerry
McNerney; and in CA 04, Rep. John Doolittle is being challenged by Charlie
Brown, an ex-Republican Air Force Lt. Colonel (Ret.) who served in every
forward action from Vietnam to Operation Desert Storm…
San Francisco Chronicle
Richard Pombo fires back...U.S. Rep. RICHARD W. POMBO, 11th District, Tracy...Letters to the editor
Editor -- I did not expect to receive the San Francisco Chronicle's endorsement, but when you gave your blessing to my opponent I certainly did not expect it to be based on factual inaccuracies or laden with political innuendo and heresy. You state that I have had "links to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff," though the only possible "link" to which you can point came in the form of unsolicited contributions to my campaign, the sum of which I donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs when Abramoff pleaded guilty to federal crimes. The fact is Mr. Abramoff never lobbied me on a single bill or a solitary vote -- ever.
I favor drilling off California's coasts, you assert, even though the bipartisan legislation I sponsored would have made that the exclusive decision of coastal states themselves. Our state would have garnered complete and unfettered power to ban offshore drilling from Sacramento -- instead of Washington -- forever. Even the Washington Post had the moderate sense to endorse this legislation before it was passed by the House of Representatives in June.
I also want to "downgrade the science around endangered species designations," you write, even though the scientific standard used in the Endangered Species Act is three decades old and couldn't possibly be "downgraded" any further. The bipartisan legislation I sponsored and the House passed would have updated this standard to match those used in effective laws such as the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and virtually all the rules and regulations that apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's scientific rule-making processes.
And you actually printed an urban legend of the liberal blogosphere when you stipulated that I think the less popular National Parks "should be sold off" -- a proposition I never suggested, proposed, voted for or endorsed. Period.
Even my appointment to the chairmanship of the Resources Committee is tainted, according to your editorial, because it came "at the behest of" former-Rep. Tom DeLay. Assuming Mr. DeLay did vote for me (committee chairman are selected by secret ballot), he would have been only one of the thirty-something votes I needed from the Steering Committee to secure the position.
My opponent and I have very different ideas when it comes to solving the problems facing this country. Liberals and conservatives always do. But I would have respected the editorial board's decision to endorse my opponent had it been deliberated based on those differences. It was not. To the contrary, your endorsement appears to have been a forgone conclusion based on the fact that he places a (D) instead of an (R) at the end of his name and reads like it was drafted using a blend of Greenpeace talking points and Democrat National Committee scripts from the "character assassination" file. Coming from a publication whose readers count themselves among America's liberal and intellectual elite, this conservative "dullard" is not impressed.
Dems see 2 House seats the think GOP can lose...Edward Epstein
Increasingly confident Democratic campaign strategists have added the seats of two veteran Northern California Republican congressmen, Richard Pombo of Tracy and John Doolittle of Rocklin in Placer County, to the list of contests they think they can win on Nov. 7.
Inside Bay Area
Outside TV ads blur race in Tracy...Mike Martinez
TRACY - A political action committee from Sacramento with ties to developers and U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo has spent more on the Tracy mayoral race - almost $58,000 - than all the candidates for mayor in the last two elections combined - $21,150 -according to public documents. Ads paid for by the committee targeting Celeste Garamendi and her opposition to a developer-built youth sports complex have been appearing on MSNBC and the Fox News Channel on Comcast Cable. In its filings with the city, HAT PAC named Garamendi as the candidate supported or opposed in the race for mayor of Tracy. Garamendi said the ad blitz is aimed at electing Garamendis opponent, Brent Ives, and maintaining a pro-development City Council. Never in the history of Tracy has this much money been spent in any kind of mayors race or local race, Garamendi said. In the last race, $15,000 thought to be a lot. Funds for the committee have come from $25,000 donations from a political action committee managed by Pombo, who Ives has said publicly endorses his candidacy for mayor... John Feliz, a political consultant and a director of HAT PAC, said they invest in areas that are pro-business and Tracys mayoral election has a good pro-business candidate were investing in. Consultants retained by Ives campaign for mayor would probably be paid by the PAC, he said.
New York Times
Mr. Pombo's Map...Editorial
When you add up the energy resources of the American West, one of the biggest items in the ledger is oil shale - rock formations containing deposits that can be distilled, by heating, into oil. The processes for extracting oil shale are still hugely expensive...
because the potential environmental costs are staggering. You can pump oil from oil shale by heating the underground formations, with untold effect on groundwater. Or you can dig it all up, cart it away and heat it somewhere else, scarring vast tracts of the West. None of this has stopped Congressman Richard Pombo of California - champion of the idea that we can drill our way to energy independence - from throwing yet another economic bone to the energy sector. In a little-noticed provision of the much- reviled Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act - which the House passed in June and the Senate will take up when Congress returns - Mr. Pombo lowered the royalty rate for oil shale from 12.5 percent to 1 percent. Should the day arrive when the price of shale oil becomes competitive, this could turn out to be an extraordinary giveaway of federal revenue (most oil shale lies under federal land) and a huge incentive to wreak environmental damage. None of this is surprising. Mr. Pombo has been well- financed by oil and gas producers. He has done his best to give away public resources and throw away prudent restraints on energy exploration. We believe that this country must pursue energy independence. But unlike Mr. Pombo, we believe that there is a vibrant new economy to be found in conservation and that is where our future lies. When we try to envision the America that Mr. Pombo has mapped out for us, all we can see is a nation committed to devouring itself, one barrel of oil at a time.
Oct. 18, 2006
Pombo a poor legacy to leave to heirs...Debra Renfroe, Escalon...What kind of legacy are we leaving our children and grandchildren if we allow Richard Pombo to remain in office? He has been responsible for writing legislation that has destroyed environmental protections that took years to establish. His position on drilling in Alaska is unwavering in spite of the effect it will have on the delicate environmental balance of the area and the world. Do we want to leave our future up to someone who has been included in a list of the most corrupt politicians in Congress? It is time for a change by voting for Jerry McNerney. He has the expertise in environmental issues and will truly represent the people of this district.
The friends of fixers, gamblers and sweatshops...Peter Schrag
What is it about the Central Valley that produces so much political muck?...Manteca Congressman John McFall, Rep. Tony Coelho of Merced, Democrat Gary Condit of Ceres, and now we have Rep. Richard Pombo of Tracy and Rep. John Doolittle of Roseville. Neither Doolittle nor Pombo has been charged with anything illegal. But the goop trailing behind them makes the transgressions of their Valley predecessors look almost benign. Just tracing their links to Abramoff and the sweatshop-dominated Northern Mariana Islands and the Indian gambling interests that were his biggest clients would take a wall-size diagram. In a recent debate with Jerry McNerney, his Democratic opponent, Pombo declared that Abramoff "never once lobbied me on anything." He'd barely met the guy. But records of the Northern Marianas government show that Abramoff billed his clients there for contacts with Pombo and his staff. How did a rancher from Tracy get so interested in those remote Pacific islands? The low-wage garment industry on the islands, which are U.S. territory, can label its products "Made in U.S.A." When the industry fought to block legislation that would have ended its exemptions from U.S. immigration and labor laws, Pombo and Doolittle were happy to help. Pombo got some $6,500 in individual contributions from the Marianas, but they pale beside the $250,000 he collected in the last two election cycles from Indian gambling interests, most of them Abramoff clients. Thanks to DeLay, Pombo chairs the House Resources Committee, which oversees Indian casinos. No congressman got more from the tribes in those years than Pombo. Back in 1994 Doolittle and Pombo both signed the GOP Contract With America, which promised to restore "the faith and trust of the American people in their government" and to root out "waste, fraud and abuse." Is this how they honor it?
Pombo for Congress — but he must clear ethical clouds...Editorial...10-14-06
We are endorsing incumbent Richard Pombo for Congress.Pombo is bright, amiable and adheres to solid conservative values. He is against higher taxes and he has worked diligently on behalf of veterans. He has risen to a position of substantial power in Congress, serving as chairman of the House Resources Committee. His opponent, Democrat Jerry McNerney, is a thoughtful, soft-spoken and decent fellow. But McNerney is a political newbie. While he would be an excellent college professor (he holds a doctorate in mathematics) he would, in our view, be a relatively ineffectual member of Congress.Yet this endorsement comes with reservations.There are fair questions being raised about Pombo's ethics. He has received campaign donations from the convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He has received money from the Indian tribes whose fortunes he controls as a legislative leader. Critics contend he has traded financial favor for legislative action. Pombo has also continued to employ his wife, Annette, as a campaign consultant. None of this reflects well on the rancher from Tracy. We hope that, once re-elected, Pombo will take pains to clear the ethical clouds above him. As a veteran leader of Congress, he can and should use his power to push for higher standards of conduct and accountability.
Perfect political storm...John Upton
While Rep. Richard Pombo is giving money to torpedo Celeste Garamendi's run at mayor... On the same day that Tracy councilman and mayoral candidate Brent Ives appeared to dismiss a proposal by Councilwoman Irene Sundberg to spend city money on youth sports fields and a swimming pool, Ives’ opponent and Sundberg ally Celeste Garamendi revealed Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, has given $25,000 to sink her campaign. AKT wants to give the city money to build sports fields in exchange for the right to build homes in 2012. AKT is owned by the Tsakopoulos family, and records show Katherine Tsakopoulos gave $2,100 to Pombo’s campaign in early July. Garamendi sees in the Pombo donation an effort by a corporate cabal to maintain power in Tracy. “The money is being directed 100 percent at maintaining the special-interest control of the council,” said Garamendi...
“Pombo has historically supported unrestrained development. Pombo’s Rich PAC gave $25,000 three weeks ago to a group led by the campaign manager of Rep. John Doolittle, R-Rocklin, to run attack ads against Garamendi, a community activist who for years has defeated big developers on ballot-box initiatives. Angelo Tsakopoulos gave $4,200 to Doolittle in June, records show. Assessor maps show Pombo’s family owns about 800 acres of largely undeveloped land in Tracy’s sphere of influence, where a slow-growth law championed by Garamendi and passed by voters in 2000 dramatically slowed the number of new homes that can be built. Garamendi previously vowed to do “everything legally possible” if elected mayor to block controversial deals that Ives, outgoing mayor Dan Bilbrey and incumbent council candidate Suzanne Tucker asked city employees to negotiate with The Surland Co. and AKT Development. The deals would let AKT and Surland build 500 of the 600 homes that can be built in Tracy every year from 2012 under the slow-growth law until 9,700 homes are built in exchange for at least $40 million in sports facilities and 35 acres of land. Garamendi’s husband, attorney Mark Connolly, has taken the city to court arguing that the deals break the slow-growth law by trading away more than 225 homebuilding permits every year. Attorneys for the city argued that voters never intended to limit the number of homes that can be built by agreement with developers.The deal with AKT Development would help pay for dozens of sports fields on 150 of the 200 acres of western Tracy land being purchased by the city at a bargain rate of $950,000 from the Prisons Bureau under a special law written by Pombo and passed by Congress in 1998. The legislation requires that a quarter of the land be used for economic development such as a business park. The legislation helped prevent a federal prison from being built on the land. The 50 acres earmarked by the city for economic development are on the northwest corner of the site, which is colloquially called the antenna farm, next to 18 acres of Pombo family land on Schulte Road. In nearby western Tracy, Pombo’s uncle, Ernest Pombo, owns 122 acres of land on South Hansen Road, 468 acres on Lammers Road, and 140 acres on West Byron Road. The homes that would be built by AKT Development in exchange for at least $20 million for the 150 acres of sports fields would be built on AKT’s 5,500-home southwest Tracy Hills housing and business project. Pombo’s campaign consultant, Wayne Johnson, said he knew nothing of Pombo’s $25,000 donation. Pombo’s campaign manager, Carl Fogliani, did not reply to a phone call and an e-mail.
Very poor rich man...Rick Lane, Tracy Press...Voters' Voices
Rep Richard Pombo made a choice while in office, and it wasn't to side with the average Americans he represents. There is a cancer in Congress. Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, is at the epicenter of this cancer. And he has used the power we have entrusted in him as our representative to help spread it and hide it, at the expense of our health and our prosperity. Pombo faced a choice: integrity or corruption. He chose corruption. He did this because he believes corruption pays better than integrity. Mr. Pombo...Do you see only our wallets and not our hopes and dreams...What have we done to earn your dishonesty...I voted for you and defended you and am now ashamed of that fact. I think Richard Pombo is a great example of a very poor rich man.
Rude activists...Jean Burgess, Tracy...Voters' Voices
Jerry McNerney's rowdy backers at a recent forum provided a stark contrast between him and Rep. Richard Pombo. I have known Pombo since he first ran for Congress in 1992. He is straightforward, ethical and honest, and he always returns home to tell us exactly what is going on in Washington, D.C. He is being unfairly maligned and lied about by his opposition. I’m proud to be his supporter.
Inside Bay Area
Pombo-McNerney contest heats up as election nears...Josh Richman
The battle between House Resources Committee chairman Richard Pombo and his Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney, already the Bay Area's only hot congressional race, seemed to shift into overdrive last week. With three weeks left until Election Day, McNerney of Pleasanton stepped up his already lively campaign by appearing with prominent House Democrats, making hay over the former Rep. Mark Foley sexual e-mail scandal, bringing a Bay Area congressional press aide aboard his campaign as spokesman and launching a new television commercial. Pombo, R-Tracy, denied new allegations that he'd been directly contacted by disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff twice in 1996; continued his direct appeal to voters with a mailer inviting them to call him at his Tracy home; and saw the National Republican Congressional Committee spend more than $52,000 last week for mailings and phone banks against McNerney, bringing the NRCC's total spending on the race since Sept. 1 to about $536,000. Democratic pollster Greenberg Quinlan Rosner's late-September survey found McNerney leading Pombo 48 percent to 46 percent; with a five-point margin of error, it was a statistical dead heat. But Pombo has said his own polling has consistently found he has a comfortable lead.
Contra Costa Times
Re-elect Rep. Pombo...Editorial
SINCE THE 11TH Congressional District was redrawn to include suburban parts of the Bay Area, Rep. Richard Pombo has faced stronger challenges from Democrats. This year turned out to be a particularly tough race against Pleasanton wind energy consultant Jerry McNerney. McNerney was not the choice of the Democratic Party in the primary. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee viewed him as too liberal for the district and refused to include him in its fundraising program. Like many politicians from both parties, McNerney has moved toward the center after the primary. Pombo has been a mainline Republican for his six terms in Congress, representing the interests of rural voters. He is a strong advocate of limited government, tax reduction, free trade and a strong national defense. He continues to support the Bush administration's tax reduction legislation and does not want to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq until the government there is able to operate on its own. Pombo has done a decent job representing his district and so far has adequately answered questions about connections to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Pombo has nearly 14 years of experience in Washington. McNerney has not held elective office and admits he would have little influence as a freshman legislator. He was not up to speed on some important tax issues that will be considered by Congress in the coming session. Although McNerney is sincere in his aspirations for change, we think voters will have a better representative by re-electing Richard Pombo to an eighth term.
Oct. 17, 2006
The Worst Congress Ever
How our national legislature has become a stable of thieves and perverts -- in five easy steps
Ten Worst Congressmen
7. ENEMY OF THE EARTH
DICK POMBO (R-CALIF.)
No member of Congress has worked harder to savage America's natural resources than Pombo, a Stetson-wearing cattleman who ran for office after a nature trail was slated to run through his family's 500-acre ranch. As chairman of the House Resources Committee, Pombo has waged a career-long campaign to abolish the Endangered Species Act, which he accuses of putting "rats and shellfish" before people. Last year he almost succeeded: His comically titled "Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act" would have phased out all protection for threatened wildlife by 2015. Pombo has also won passage of bills to eliminate habitat protections on 150 million acres of wilderness and to lift a quarter-century moratorium on offshore oil drilling.
"Dick Pombo is the most dangerous member of the House," says Carl Pope of the Sierra Club. "There's no one who represents the threat to our public lands that he does."
But Pombo doesn't let his environmental attacks get in the way of his own profit: He raked in $35,000 from clients of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and paid his own wife and brother $357,000 for dubious campaign services. That's a quarter of every dollar raised by his political action committee -- known, aptly enough, as Rich PAC.
Pombo flush for ad blitz...Hank Shaw
Federal records show the seven-term incumbent has raised $3.4 million for his re-election effort - three times more than he’s ever done - and Pombo intends to spend that cash on mail, radio, television or any other way he can think of to sway voters before Election Day...has more than $1 million left in his account, enough to buy wall-to-wall television and radio ads from now until Election Day. The reason for all this buck-raking is an unusually spirited challenge from Pleasanton wind-energy consultant Jerry McNerney. McNerney has raised more than $1.2 million through Sept. 30, making him by far Pombo’s best-funded opponent. But McNerney is reporting only $323,000 remaining in his campaign account, and he owes staffers and vendors $128,000. Fueling Pombo’s campaign are an array of real estate, agricultural, fishery, oil and energy interests, plus about $250,000 from his fellow Republicans. A look at Pombo’s campaign contributors turns up just about every farmer from Galt to Fresno, all the local developers, a Who’s Who of oil companies and the entire North Pacific fishing industry. And this doesn’t include the roughly $550,000 the National Republican Congressional Committee has spent on Pombo’s behalf for mailing, phone banking and polls. The National Right-to-Life PAC also has been helping Pombo. As for McNerney, his campaign is fueled largely by other Democrats, unions and retirees. Technology companies in Silicon Valley and beyond also have shown him significant support, as have teachers, trial lawyers and environmentalists. It is this last group that has supplied McNerney with his strongest outside aid: Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters all have been active in trying to beat Pombo. Several groups have hired full-time activists to organize in Pombo’s 11th District. Locally, the money chase isn’t even close. Pombo has raised $510,200 from San Joaquin County donors - nearly 18 times more than McNerney’s $28,650.
Spending spree in big race...John Upton
Campaign donations have poured into the congressional race at a rate of $120,000 per week, and candidates are spending it. The campaign team behind Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, launched television and direct-mail pieces late last week claiming that Pombo’s opponent, Democrat Jerry McNerney, “said North Korea should be allowed to develop nuclear weapons without fear of U.S. military intervention.” But McNerney bit back at the Pombo claim, telling the Tracy Press that though he would prefer to see the U.S. contain North Korea’s nuclear program with diplomacy and economic sanctions, he would not rule out military options. “My son was in Korea, and I know the risks and danger of Korea,” McNerney said. “We have to use all of the tools that we have available to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. We have to look at North Korea as a containment issue.” McNerney wrote in a project VoteSmart survey that he didn’t support the “United States using military force to dismantle the North Korea nuclear weapons program.” McNerney deleted the survey answer in late July. “Obviously, they already changed their answer on that, because they knew that the voters should be shocked and appalled,” Fogliani said. Meanwhile, the McNerney camp is attacking Pombo over veterans’ issues with an advertisement on San Francisco and Sacramento television stations. “Hundreds of American soldiers lost arms or legs in Iraq,” a voice-over says. “Congressman Richard Pombo added insult to injury when he voted against research to improve prosthetic limbs for veterans.” Fogliani said Pombo voted last May against the amendment to the military appropriations bill that would have increased funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs by $53 million, because it would have caused “unnecessary delays in the (Base Realignment and Closure) process.” The amendment failed by one vote....
San Francisco Chronicle
The Chronicle Recommends...Replace Pombo wioth McNerney
LINKS TO disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, efforts to gut wildlife protections and sell off national parks, and a blessing to offshore oil drilling. That's the profile of U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo...this time his ethical stumbles and radical positions should catch up with him. His opponent, engineer Jerry McNerney brings a low-key probity that the district and House deserve. Pombo's positions are simply out of step with the core values of a state that treasures its natural resources... He wants to downgrade the science around endangered species designations, making habitat-destroying development easier. It's a special cause for Pombo, a rancher with allies who want to build in his sprawling, fast-growing district. As for national parks, he thinks there are too many, and the less popular ones should be sold off. It's not just ideology that disqualifies Pombo. It's ethics too. He was jumped from junior member to chairman of the House Resources Committee at the behest of scandal-tainted Rep. Tom DeLay. Pombo's campaign donations included $7,500 from the disgraced Abramoff and another $30,000 from Abramoff clients. If you are judged in politics by the company you keep, Pombo fails the test. His challenger McNerney lost to Pombo two years ago, and faces an uphill fight in a district designed to pool Republican voters in a Democratic state. But even within his own party, Pombo is proving an embarrassment. He should be retired.
Inside Bay Area
Pombo bill could bring him benefits...Mike Martinez...10-16-06
TRACY - Tall brown grass, a couple of houses, some power lines and cattle are the only objects easily visible on the 200 acres south of Tracy owned by U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo and his immediate family. The grasslands are also prime breeding grounds for the San Joaquin kit fox, which is an endangered species. With a plan for development being revived at the San Joaquin County level, and through revisions of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 that have been championed by Pombo, the Tracy Republican and his family could make a lot of money if the legislation ever makes it out of the U.S. Senate, where it has been stalled for the past year. The bill would compensate property owners if they are unable to develop their land because it was designated a habitat for an endangered animal or plant. Pombo, who was elected to Congress in 1994 and quickly began advocating for changes to the Endangered Species Act, said the only way he could get paid - if the bill is ever signed into law - is if the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Services said he couldn't graze cattle there anymore. "Then you could be compensated on your ag value," Pombo said. "You can't go in and say I want to build a skyscraper, have Fish and Wildlife say no and get aid. That's written on purposeso people couldn't say it's there to pay off developers. You can only be compensated for what the current zoning is." Under bill HR 3824 - passed by the House in September 2005 - "financial conservation aid" can be given to "alleviate the burden of conservation measures imposed upon private property owners." Recently the plan to develop the area, which includes the Pombo property and bumps up against Tracy's city limits, resurfaced. The city of Tracy was so concerned about another new town - immediately south of the proposed Tracy Hills development - they asked a county staff member to discuss it at a recent meeting. No applications have been submitted, but the proposed project... In 2004, city voters rejected developer-backed initiatives, Measures U and V, which would have granted home-builders rights outside of Measure A, the city's slow growth initiative passed in 2000... Pete McCloskey, the original author of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, said providing financial aid for developers who can't build on land designated as habitat would "bankrupt" U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, who then wouldn't be able to preserve anything. "I was proud of that act and I still am," said McCloskey, who lost to Pombo in the Republican primary and has now endorsed Pombo's Democratic challenger, Jerry McNerney. "You can always change it and tinker with things. This guy really wants to gut the act. It's based on the fact that it inhibits development of his own property and his friends' (properties)."
Contra Costa Times
Pombo, Doolittle boast brimming war chests...Samantha Young, AP
GOP candidates' fundraising efforts leave rivals lagging, but neither can shake Abramoff ties. Among Pombo's notable contributions in the last quarter were $4,600 given by members of the Tsakopoulos family, relatives of Sacramento real estate developer Angelo Tsakopoulos, who is a major contributor to Democrats. McNerney had raised nearly $1.2 million in his bid for the Central Valley seat, including $713,000 in the most recent period. Fogliani called the McNerney campaign's assessment a "cheap character assassination." Neither Pombo nor Doolittle's reports include an estimated $400,000 and $600,000 raised by President Bush at respective fundraisers in their districts earlier this month.
Oct. 16, 2006
Pombo raises $3.1M in battle to keep seat...Samantha Young
Pombo had $1.1 million as of Sept. 30, the last day of the filing period. He had raised $3.1 million overall to defend his seat, nearly a third of that over the summer. He may need it. Pombo opponent and wind energy engineer Jerry McNerney had $334,000 on hand at the end of last month and has raised $250,000 since, said McNerney spokesman Yoni Cohen. "No amount of money from corporate lobbyists can save Richard Pombo's sinking ship," Cohen said. "Despite spending half a million dollars on desperate attack ads against Jerry McNerney, national Republicans have seen Pombo's standing deteriorate." McNerney had raised $1.2 million, including $713,000 in the most recent period. On the Net: Read the reports, www.fec.gov.
Republicans should give Pombo the boot...Editorial
Pombo, the seven-term congressman from Tracy, will take delight in proclaiming that we oppose his re-election because we don't like his radical views that call for eviscerating smart environmental laws. But the case for why Democrats and Republicans should support McNerney's candidacy in the sprawling 11th Congressional District goes far beyond Pombo's desire to sell off national parks, drill for oil off the Pacific Coast and make the Endangered Species Act extinct. Pombo is a national disgrace to the Republican Party. His unseemly connections to scandal-ridden lobbyist Jack Abramoff should be an embarrassment to all Republicans. A Washington watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, put him on its list of the 13 most corrupt Republicans and Democrats in Congress. And his questionable connections to oil companies, gambling interests and mining companies have been well documented. Pombo is such a bad role model that even Pete McCloskey, Pombo's challenger in the primary election, couldn't bring himself to endorse his fellow Republican this fall. Declaring ``enough is enough,'' McCloskey said he will vote for McNerney on Nov. 7. So should all voters in the 11th Congressional District.
Oct. 15, 2006
Los Angeles Times
How California helps protect GOP power...Tony Quinn
Gerrymandered districts almost ensure no state Republicans will lose their seats even in the worst of times...bipartisan decisions made five years ago to gerrymander congressional district lines in California and other states may be all that's left to save the GOP from losing control of Congress. When the California Legislature redrew the state's political lines in 2001, the priority of both Democrats and Republicans was to put a lock on their respective districts. Four GOP incumbent congressmen had lost in the 2000 election, and the party, fearful of losing even more in increasingly blue California, was desperate to hold on to its 20 seats in the House. Republicans offered Democrats a deal: Give us 20 safe seats in the redistricting plan, and you can do anything you want with the remaining 33. Before the 2001 redistricting, Pombo's district included heavily Democratic downtown Stockton. These voters were given to a neighboring Democrat, and Pombo's new district meandered all over the map in pursuit of Republican-voting suburbanites. In 2003, Stockton residents sued, claiming that Pombo's district violated a California constitutional provision requiring that districts should respect city and county boundaries and be geographically compact. California's congressional Democrats and both parties in the Legislature spent a nice hunk of taxpayer dollars defending their handiwork, and Pombo's district survived. In 2005, Democrats successfully fought to defeat Proposition 77, which would have provided for an immediate redrawing of legislative and congressional districts, despite the fact that their efforts were propping up a number of otherwise vulnerable GOP incumbents, among them Pombo.
Record readers examine some pros and cons
Debate about Pombo continues...Pete McCloskey, Rumsey...A Sept. 9 letter in The Record suggested that "to infer that Congressman Pombo is in trouble during this campaign is untrue and deceitful." Like Ney and DeLay, Pombo took substantial sums from Abramoff in connection with the Northern Mariana Islands sweatshop and prostitution scandals. Three former congressional staffers working for Abramoff have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bribe members of Congress. All three raised or gave substantial sums to Pombo, as did Kevin Ring... The wives of Pombo and Doolittle received, as did DeLay's wife, over $100,000 from their husbands' campaign funds. Ring took the Fifth Amendment rather than answer Senate questions regarding his relationship with Abramoff at the time he was giving money to Pombo. It's fair to inquire whether Pombo might be the next Republican leader to be subject of a Justice Department inquiry. His communications with Northern Mariana Islands officials have been subpoenaed by the Justice Department. Pombo could clear this all up simply by conducting the committee hearings that have been requested for many years by several of his committee members.
What has Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, done for his district?...Elizabeth Williams, Woodbridge...He voted for budget deficit reduction and more efficient use of our tax dollars...voted to strengthen Medicare...fights to protect our water supply...helped or co-sponsored three major acts and voted to fund 10 water projects in California and six water projects...secured $2,259,108 for schools...continues to work on trying to alleviate gridlock on the Interstate 205 and Interstate 580 corridors and is working on a new project to the South Bay (which doesn't go through any of his or his family's property)...voted to fix the Endangered Species Act...believes it's imperative that both sides work together to achieve the desired result. Pombo has achieved this without a lot of shouting and fanfare. All his achievements have been without raising our taxes.
I would have voted for Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy...C. Sanders, Manteca...But one thing disturbs me greatly about our current representative - his failure to stand up for human rights. Pombo refuses to investigate well- documented reports of involuntary servitude, forced prostitution and forced abortion in the Northern Mariana Islands sweatshops. Why?
Pombo pushes for lower oil fees...Julie Cart
Tucked into a massive energy bill that would open the outer continental shelf to oil drilling are provisions that would slash future royalties owed to the federal government by companies prospecting in Rocky Mountain oil shale deposits. Sponsored by Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Stockton, and passed by the House earlier this year, the bill would amend an existing requirement that the federal government receive a ``fair return'' from oil companies that hold oil shale leases on public lands. Instead, Pombo's bill would reduce royalties from the customary 12.5 percent of annual revenue to 1 percent. Further, the bill could cut the reduced rate by as much as 80 percent if the price of oil fell. The provision would benefit the energy industry, which is a heavy contributor to Pombo's re-election campaign.Pombo and others say oil companies need incentives to invest in the unproven billion-dollar technology, which squeezes oil from deep rock formations.The Senate is considering its own version of the House bill, expanding off-shore oil drilling. But it does not address oil shale royalties.
Oct. 14, 2006
It's a tough act to crack...Michael Doyle, Bee Washington Bureau...10-14-06
Tracy Republican Richard Pombo took office vowing to change the Endangered Species Act. In the 14 years since, he's delivered speeches, staged events and written bills. He's enjoyed perfect positions to pursue his signature issue, including, for the past four years, chairmanship of the House Resources Committee while his party has controlled both the House and Senate. The Endangered Species Act, though, remains unchanged since the day Pombo took office in January 1993. The same 22,300 words in the U.S. code then are still intact today. Which raises the fundamental question as Pombo faces a re-election challenge from Jerry McNerney, a Democrat from the Livermore Valley: What does the failure to revise the Endangered Species Act say about Pombo's legislative skills? "It's the sacred cow," Pombo said. "It is the big environmental law that takes precedence over everything." Pombo and his allies invariably cite the Senate as the current roadblock. In particular, they blame Rhode Island Republican Sen. Lincoln Chaffee... Pombo and Cardoza consider it a success that they moved their Endangered Species Act bill through the House last year... There's another view, and it's not exclusively held by Defenders of Wildlife, an environmental group now trying hard to defeat Pombo. Maryland Republican Wayne Gilchrest oppose Pombo's House bill. House Republican, Rep. Sherwood Boehlert of New York, said, "You can't put all the burden" on Pombo for the failure to revise the Endangered Species Act. "People don't want to come together." Pombo "is not a miracle worker, last time I looked." But while Boehlert today voices sympathy for Pombo's challenge, Pombo reacted sharply when a Bee reporter cited Boehlert's assessment from the mid-1990s that attacking the Endangered Species Act hurt GOP candidates. "He was wrong then," Pombo said of Boehlert. "He's been wrong a lot. "Nonetheless, 30 House Republicans in early 1996 warned GOP leaders in a letter that the party had "taken a beating this year over missteps in environmental policy." The Endangered Species Act debate then essentially hibernated until late 2004, when Pombo's staff members quietly began negotiating with the ranking Democrat on the House Resources Committee, Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia.
Editorial: Pombo for Congress — but he must clear ethical clouds
We are endorsing incumbent Richard Pombo for Congress.Pombo is bright, amiable and adheres to solid conservative values. He is against higher taxes and he has worked diligently on behalf of veterans.He has risen to a position of substantial power in Congress, serving as chairman of the House Resources Committee.His opponent, Democrat Jerry McNerney, is a thoughtful, soft-spoken and decent fellow.But McNerney is a political newbie. While he would be an excellent college professor (he holds a doctorate in mathematics) he would, in our view, be a relatively ineffectual member of Congress.Yet this endorsement comes with reservations.There are fair questions being raised about Pombo's ethics. He has received campaign donations from the convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He has received money from the Indian tribes whose fortunes he controls as a legislative leader.Critics contend he has traded financial favor for legislative action.Pombo has also continued to employ his wife, Annette, as a campaign consultant.
None of this reflects well on the rancher from Tracy.We hope that, once re-elected, Pombo will take pains to clear the ethical clouds above him. As a veteran leader of Congress, he can and should use his power to push for higher standards …
Oct. 13, 2006
Pombo's account is most plausible...Editorial
When deciding who to believe, Jack Abramoff or Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, the Press sides with the congressman. Whom do you trust? A former Washington, D.C., lobbyist who is going to jail for, among other transgressions, padding his billing records, or a popular local congressman who is seeking re-election to an eighth term? The topic was the Northern Mariana Islands... We trust Pombo’s accounting. The two dates that Abramoff billed for talking with Pombo are suspicious. Will this campaign season controversy come down to whether 10 years ago Pombo was home with his family or feasting with Abramoff at the lobbyist’s infamous Signatures restaurant in Washington? It’s that ridiculous.
Power corrupts...Wendy Kimsey, Pleasanton...Your Voice
As the saying goes: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I was not surprised when I read in the newspaper that records show Pombo and his office had multiple contacts with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. I was also not surprised when I received a Pombo campaign flier that complained about the oil companies’ high profits, but didn’t state that Pombo received tens of thousands of dollars from these same oil companies as campaign contributions. Who is Pombo working for It’s not for the 11th District Constituents.
Contra Costa Times
Pombo confident as campaign roils...Lisa Vorderbrueggen
"Our internal polling shows me consistently ahead and that hasn't changed," said a relaxed Pombo during a meeting Thursday with the Contra Costa Times editorial board. "This race is different this year because it's one of the only real races in the state, so it's attracted every liberal activist within an hour's drive of the district." Pombo, R-Tracy, called his re-election campaign against Democrat Jerry McNerney high-profile but not tight... "Immigration is probably the biggest issue the Republicans in my district are talking about," Pombo said, "but it's not like they are not going to vote Republican." The congressman said billing records between Abramoff and a client, the Northern Mariana Islands, that show two contacts between Abramoff and Pombo in 1996 were the product of expense padding. He also disputed the accuracy of nearly a dozen contacts between Abramoff's staff and Pombo's staff noted in the records. Some of the records show that meetings took place between Abramoff's staff and Pombo's public affairs chief. "I have policy guys who meet with lobbyists," he said. "They don't meet with my communications chief." More importantly, Pombo said, he had no reason to meet with Abramoff. He was a junior member of Congress who had just published a book on property rights reform and had little interest in the Marianas. Why would I go to Saipan? It wasn't my issue." Ed Yoon, spokesman for Moveon.org and Defenders, remained unpersuaded. He believes Abramoff used campaign contributions to influence Pombo to vote favorably on bills that involved clients such as Indian tribes and the Mariana Islands, where reports of worker abuse and forced abortions would later drive Miller to demand a congressional investigation. Pombo refused to hold hearings.