CREW Releases Ethics Complaint and Files IRS Complaint Against Rep. Richard Pombo
Washington, DC – Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has prepared an ethics complaint and filed an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) complaint against Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), alleging that he violated federal laws and House rules. Last fall, CREW named Rep. Pombo one of the 13 most corrupt Members of Congress.
CREW is asking that a Member of the House forward the thirteen count ethics complaint against Rep. Pombo to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, better known as the House Ethics Committee. CREW is not submitting the complaint directly to the Ethics Committee directly because outside groups are barred from filing complaints. The rules allow a Member of the House to certify that CREW’s complaint has a good faith basis and forward the complaint to the Ethics Committee, stating that the complaint merits the Committee’s consideration.
Among the counts:
- 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 filed an IRS complaint alleging Rep. Pombo has violated the tax law by taking at least two foreign trips at the expense of a private foundation without either paying taxes on the value the trips or reimbursing the foundation for the costs of the trips.
“This pattern of unethical and likely illegal conduct shows that Rep. Pombo believes himself above the law,” Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said today. “Nothing in the misnamed lobbying reform bill that passed the House yesterday would do anything to make Members of Congress accountable for their conduct. Unfortunately, waiting for the House Ethics Committee to take action against a member of Congress who has violated the rules is like waiting for Godot. Maybe the IRS will do better.”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact David Merchant at 202.408.5565 or email@example.com