Thursday, April 07, 2005


Rep. With Wind Farm Ties Denies Power Play:
Aides to California Rep. Richard W. Pombo pressed officials of the U.S. Department of the Interior last year to suspend environmental guidelines opposed by the wind-power industry without disclosing that Pombo's family had a substantial financial stake in wind energy. …

Pombo (R-CA), heads the House committee that oversees the Interior Department. His parents own a 300-acre ranch in the Altamont Pass and have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties from wind-power turbines on their land over the last 17 years — much more than the family gets from cattle on that land. …

The Pombo ranch is in the 73-square-mile Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area, which is on a major migratory bird route. Each year, several hundred raptors are killed there, including 40 to 60 golden eagles, leading the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to declare it a problem area.
Pombo is a bit of a regular on these virtual pages. He's one of the leaders of the anti-ESA forces in the House, and is using his position as the head of the Resources committee to push that agenda. The regulations were intended to reduce the high rates of bird mortality due to wind farms.

The Congressman claims the letter went out under his signature but without his knowledge. It's unclear whether he was aware that his staff "confronted Fish and Wildlife Service officials about the guidelines and regulatory actions taken by the agency's Sacramento field office at Altamont."

If he's to be believed, this is a good time to introduce right hand to left. If he's lying, it's a horrific abuse of power. The Ethics committee should investigate the conflict of interest, and determine whether his actions were appropriate.

In glancing over the Ethics committee's rules, it looks like they have to launch an investigation if a member of Congress requests it, or if the Member passes on a complaint from a constituent.

Rule 15. Complaints

(a) A complaint submitted to the Committee shall be in writing, dated, and properly verified (a document will be considered properly verified where a notary executes it with the language, "Signed and sworn to (or affirmed) before me on (date) by (the name of the person)" setting forth in simple, concise, and direct statements—

(1) the name and legal address of the party filing the complaint (hereinafter referred to as the "complainant");

(2) the name and position or title of the respondent;

(3) the nature of the alleged violation of the Code of Official Conduct or of other law, rule, regulation, or other standard of conduct applicable to the performance of duties or discharge of responsibilities; and

(4) the facts alleged to give rise to the violation. The complaint shall not contain innuendo, speculative assertions, or conclusory statements.

(b) Any documents in the possession of the complainant that relate to the allegations may be submitted with the complaint.

(c) Information offered as a complaint by a Member of the House of Representatives may be transmitted directly to the Committee.

(d) Information offered as a complaint by an individual not a Member of the House may be transmitted to the Committee, provided that a Member of the House certifies in writing that he or she believes the information is submitted in good faith and warrants the review and consideration of the Committee.
Someone whose Congressman is in a safe seat should get this material together, and file a complaint through him/her. I doubt that Dennis Moore would risk the wrath of the Republican party by damaging the already tattered "ethics truce."

Or some big organization should put on a big press conference and submit the complaint directly to the committee.