McCloskey: Not the lesser of two evils

The Republican race between Pete McCloskey, R-Lodi, and RichPAC Pombo, Buffalo Slayer-Tracy, is worth a great deal more attention than it is getting. When rightwing flaks were babbling on about "progressive Republicans" when they were busy replacing Gray Davis with the Hun, I went on an interesting search one day in the state Capitol. Accompanied by another middle-aged friend, both of tracing our California Republican roots back to great-grandfathers (ripped up in our generation by Nixon of Southern California) we seached among the pictures of California governors for a long time before we found Hiram Johnson stuck in a side alcove far, far from public view.

A few years later, the living article has showed up for real in Lodi, to remind us all of what political courage has been and could be again if, of course, if we have the stomach to take it back from the special interests and send one half of the Pomboza back to the turkey farm from which it came.

Bill Hatch

Former Rep. Paul “Pete” McCloskey, Lodi

"Pete McCloskey is] the best thing that could happen for the district, the state, the nation and possibly the Republican Party" – LA Times (1/25/06)

Why Retire Pombo?

• Pombo has been named by non-partisan watchdog groups as:

"One of the 13 most corrupt members of Congress"-COMMITTEE FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON (CREW)

"One of the first six inductees to the Congressional Hall of Shame" - PUBLIC CITIZEN

• Richard Pombo is among the top recipients of money from admitted felon and former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his associates. (Source: Time)

• Pombo owes his chairmanship of the House Resources Committee to indicted former majority leader Tom DeLay. Pombo, who votes in lockstep with DeLay 92% of the time, actively tried to change House Ethics Rules to protect DeLay (House Resolution 5) and donated thousands of dollars to the DeLay legal defense fund.

• Pombo used his official powers to protect a large donor, Charles Hurwitz, thwarting a Federal investigation in what federal regulators called, "a seamy abuse of the legislative process." (Source: LA Times 1/8/06)

• At a time when the average yearly income in San Joaquin County is $20,682, Pombo has funneled over half-a-million dollars in campaign funds to his wife and brother. As Chairman of the House Resources Committee (which oversees Native American affairs), Pombo has received over $500,000 in donations from Indian tribes, many with ties to Abramoff.

• He has joined DeLay in voting to absolve the manufacturers of the toxic gasoline additive MTBE from any responsibility for cleaning up an estimated $20 billion worth of polluted water in Northern California -water that our entire state needs for agriculture and economic growth.

• Pombo, a member of the congressional leadership, has helped move us from budget surpluses in 2000 to trillion-dollar deficits.

• Pombo, who never served in the military, claims to support our troops but has repeatedly voted against VA and health care benefits for returning veterans, including prosthesis research for amputees (House Resolutions 1815, 2528, 1268, 27, HconRes 95 and HJRes 107).

• Though his district has higher than national average gas prices, Pombo supported giving $8.6 billion in tax subsidies to oil and gas companies (House Resolution 6). It's no surprise that Pombo's largest political donations come from these same companies.

Service to his Country

Pete McCloskey enlisted in the US Navy V-5 program at the age of 17 in the spring of 1945 and was discharged as a Seaman First Class in December, 1946. He went through the Marine Corps Platoon Leaders program in 1948 and was called to duty in 1950 for the Korean War. As a rifle platoon leader, he was awarded the Navy Cross, Silver Star and two Purple Hearts. As a 38-year-old Marine Reserve Lieutenant Colonel in 1965, he volunteered for active service in Viet Nam.

His Navy Cross citation reads: "For extraordinary heroism as commander of a rifle platoon in Company C, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division, in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 29 May 1951. Assigned the difficult mission of assaulting a strongly defended enemy hill position from the flank, Second Lieutenant McCloskey skillfully lead his platoon through a vicious hail of automatic weapons, small arms and grenade fire into the heart of the hostile position.

Although painfully wounded in the initial charge, he resolutely continued to spearhead the assault, coolly directing and encouraging his men and personally moving into the enemy-held bunkers to seek out and destroy their occupants.

By his daring initiative, aggressive determination and inspiring leadership he was responsible for the success of the attack which left 40 of the enemy dead and 22 captured, and for the seizing of a strategic position from a numerically hostile force."

McCloskey's Silver Star Citation Reads:

"Second Lieutenant McCloskey, acting as a platoon leader, was assigned the mission of giving infantry support to a tank patrol in the vicinity of Inje. At about 2100, while the patrol was moving up an open valley, it was subjected to an intense artillery and mortar barrage, wounding eight men, two of them corpsmen. Directing the remainder of his platoon to cover, he crawled through the hail of fire and began to administer first aid to the most seriously wounded. When he himself received a severe wound in the leg, he disregarded the intense pain and loss of blood and continued to treat the casualties. When a stretcher party was able to reach the area, he directed the evacuation of the casualties and returned to his platoon. Only upon the direct order of his battalion commander and senior medical officer did he allow himself to be evacuated for treatment. Second Lieutenant McCloskey's alert actions and courageous devotion to duty undoubtedly saved the lives of four critically wounded comrades."

McCloskey’s citation given to him with the Navy Cross

For extraordinary heroism as commander of a rifle platoon in Company C, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division, in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 29 May l951. Assigned the difficult mission of assaulting a strongly defended enemy hill position from the flank, Second Lieutenant McCloskey skillfully lead his platoon through a vicious hail of automatic weapons, small arms and grenade fire into the heart of the hostile position.

Although painfully wounded in the initial charge, he resolutely continued to spearhead the assault, coolly directing and encouraging his men and personally moving into the enemy held bunkers to seek out and destroy their occupants.

By his daring initiative, aggressive determination and inspiring leadership he was responsible for the success of the attack which left 40 of the enemy dead and 22 captured, and for seizing of a stragtegy position from a numerically superior hostile force.

Service to His Community

Mr. McCloskey, an attorney specializing in land use and condemnation, was first admitted to practice in 1953. After serving as a Deputy District Attorney in Alameda County, California, he opened his own law office in 1955 and later founded the firm of McCloskey, Wilson & Mosher which, after his election to Congress in 1967, evolved into the present Palo Alto firm of Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati. This firm, with over 600 lawyers, is now the largest law firm in California.

Mr. McCloskey has tried over 50 condemnation jury trials, and in the landmark case of Contra Costa Water District v. Kent (Contra Costa County) obtained a verdict of $9.3 million, over 3-1/2 times the condemnor’s offer. The verdict was upheld on appeal.

Mr. McCloskey has served as President of the Palo Alto Bar Association, Trustee of the Santa Clara County Bar Association and President of the Conference of Barristers of the State Bar of California. He has taught Legal Ethics and Political Science at both at Stanford and Santa Clara Universities. He has served as a Trustee for the Monterey Institute of International Studies, the Population Action Institute, and the U.S. Marine Corps Academy and as President of the Council for the National Interest, an organization advocating a balanced U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Mr. McCloskey was elected to the House of Representatives in a special election in 1967 and was re-elected seven times representing the San Francisco Peninsula area. He initiated the effort to repeal the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1969, and made the first House speech suggesting the impeachment of Richard Nixon for obstruction of justice in June, 1973. He played a leading role in enacting the Capital Gains Tax Reduction Act in 1977 and in abolishing the Renegotiation Board in 1978, the first government agency abolished in 22 years. He served six years as Congressional Delegate to the International Whaling Conference, and as Congressional Advisor to the Law of the Sea Treaty Delegation. He was the Republican Co-Chairman of the first Earth Day in 1970, and ran for the Presidency in 1972, challenging President Nixon's Viet Nam War policy, and receiving one delegate to the Republican National Convention.

Mr. McCloskey was appointed by President Bush to the Board of Directors of the U.S. Commission on National and Community Service in 1991, and served as the first Chairman of the Board until the inauguration of President Clinton in 1993.

He has written four books: Guide to Professional Conduct for New Practitioners, California State Bar (1961); The U.S. Constitution, BRL (1961); Truth and Untruth, Simon & Shuster (1971); and The Taking of Hill 610, Eaglet Books, (1992).

Deep Roots in the Central Valley

Pete McCloskey’s great grandfather, John Henry McCloskey was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1837. He was orphaned in the great potato famine, and at the age of 8 put on a boat for America in Galway by two surviving uncles. After working as a carpenter’s apprentice in New Orleans he sailed for San Francisco, arriving in 1853. He worked as a carpenter in Yreka and in the 1870s took up farming in Merced County. His son, Henry Harrison McCloskey, was born in 1858. The Merced Star mentions in 1890 that John Henry and Henry were two of the twelve members then serving on Merced County’s Republican Central Committee.

Henry Harrison McCloskey moved to San Francisco in 1895 and practiced law there for many years, representing among other clients the ill-fated Ocean Shore Railroad and the Schilling Salt Company.

Henry’s son, Paul N. McCloskey, Sr. was born in Merced in 1890, and attended Lowell High School in San Francisco. He attended Stanford University and Law School and practiced law in Southern California until 1942, when after Pearl Harbor, at the age of 52, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He made only one political speech in his life, at Snelling in Merced County where he stated he had “been born a Republican and would live and die a Republican.” He died in 1974. His son Paul N. McCloskey, Jr. was born in San Bernardino County in 1927, registered as a Republican in 1948 and was admitted to the practice of law in 1953.

The junior McCloskey’s maternal grandfather, Samuel McNabb was born in Iowa, and moved to San Bernardino County in the late 1800s where he served successively as Deputy Sheriff, Mayor of San Bernardino and U.S. Attorney for Southern California. Mr. McNabb was Captain of the San Bernardino National Guard Company which was sent to San Francisco in 1906 to control rioting after the Great Earthquake. His Guard company was reported to have shot 18 looters before returning to San Bernardino several weeks later.

Mr. McCloskey’s son, Peter, worked as a Deputy District Attorney in Santa Clara County, and in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. He is presently one of the U.S. prosecutors at The World Court at The Hague. Mr. McCloskey’s other son, John, works on the family farm at Rumsey, Yolo County, California.

Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy

Portuguese heritage

Pombo is a descendant of Portuguese immigrants. He has hosted prominent visitors of Portugal to the United States and is the co-founder of the Portuguese Caucus, a coalition of Members of Congress who promote positive Portuguese-American relations.

The Portuguese government bestowed Pombo with the Grand Order of Infante D. Henrique, Portugal's highest civilian honor, in recognition of his efforts to improve Portuguese-American relations.

Early life and political career

Pombo was born in Tracy, California; just outside Stockton.

Pombo served as a Councilmember for the City of Tracy from 1990-1992. In 1992 he was elected to Congress to replace outgoing Republican Congressman Norman D. Shumway.

With a Republican seat open in a strongly Republican district, Pombo faced several candidates in the Republican primary in 1992. His strongest opponent in the Republican primary was moderate-Republican Sandra Smoley. Smoley was serving at that time as a State Assemblywoman. The more conservative-leaning Richard Pombo was able to defeat Smoley at the primary. Richard Pombo was elected during the general election of 1992, defeating Democrat Patti Garamendi (wife of current California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi). Pombo was asssisted greatly by his family's name recognition in the Central Valley. His late uncle Ernie Pombo's real estate and land development firm, Pombo Real Estate, made the Pombo family the largest land owner in the 11th district.

Just two years later the Republican revolution occurred whereby the Republicans seized control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years under Newt Gringrich's Contract with America. Pombo was a signatory participant in the Contract with America.

Private property rights sparks interest in politics

Richard Pombo is especially known for his defense of private property rights. This was spurred by the Southern Pacific Railroad's abandonment of the Altamont Pass route through Tracy, California. Richard Pombo owned land adjacent to the abandoned railroad line. Pombo argued that the abandoned easement should legally revert to the adjacent property owners (such as himself) rather than to the local park district. He argued that as the easement was granted based on a promise that the land would be used for railroad purposes only, that the easements ended entirely when they were abandoned. Pombo's case resulted in Congress passing the Rails to Trails Act.

Pombo has written a book with Joseph Farah about private property issues, entitled This Land Is Our Land: How to End the War on Private Property. Farah is currently founder of WorldNetDaily and headed the Western Journalism Center linked to the Arkansas Project.

Pombo was a co-founder of the San Joaquin County Citizen’s Land Alliance. This organization was a group of farmers and other landowners who advocate private property rights and oppose government encroachment on these rights.

Ranching & Politics

Richard Pombo is a rancher, continuing to own a 500 acre ranch near Tracy and returning to it every week. Closely related to Pombo's background are his House committee assignments. Pombo is presently serving as powerful Chairman of the House Resources Committee. The committee has oversight and sets policy on matters involving natural resources, Indian Country and Indian gaming. He is also a member of the House Agriculture Committee.

Congressman Pombo and his political action committee RICH PAC[1] are among a dozen leaders in the House of Representatives reportedly under investigation as part of the corruption and influence pedalling scandal centered around confessed millionaire lobbyist Jack Abramoff and policy issues including Indian gaming. Fundraisers organized by Indian gaming interests and tied to the 2005 MLB All-Star Game are among those activities under scrutiny.[2]

Pombo is also a co-Chair of the House Energy Action Team (HEAT). This team's goal is to find alternative energy solutions. Pombo's home town of Tracy, California has a large wind farm on Altamont Pass.

Pombo is a member and former Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus. The Western Caucus is made up of Western State members of Congress concerned about Endangered Species Act reform, water rights, private property rights and other issues affecting the western states. Pombo is anti-environmentalist, supporting drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), as well as proposing legislation to sell roughly a quarter of the land managed by the National Park Service. The legislation was later described by his chief of staff as a "bureaucratic exercise" designed to evaluate the costs of not drilling in ANWR. He has also led an effort to build a multilane freeway (California State Route 130) through the mostly uninhabited Diablo Range to facilitate Bay Area-bound commuting from the greater Tracy, where the congressman and his family own hundreds of acres coveted for housing development. [3] [4]

Corruption and Tom DeLay/Jack Abramoff

On January 8, 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported that Congressmen John T. Doolittle and Richard W. Pombo joined forces with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas to oppose an investigation by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) into the affairs of Houston millionaire Charles Hurwitz. When the FDIC persisted, Doolittle and Pombo used their power as members of the House Resources Committee to subpoena the agency's confidential records on the case, including details of the evidence FDIC investigators had compiled on Hurwitz, resulting in the termination of the investigation.

The Times alleged that in important aspects, the Hurwitz case followed the pattern of the Abramoff scandal, where politicians use their offices to provide favors for a well-connected individual who returns the favor by donating to the politician's campaigns. However, the Times said, even in Washington, it is rare for Congressmen to block or hinder an ongoing investigation. members of Congress using their offices to do favors for a politically well-connected individual who, in turn, supplies them with campaign funds. The Times also alleged that Pombo helped one of Jack Abramoff's clients, the Mashpee Indians in Massachusetts, gain official recognition as a tribe. In return, Pombo received campaign contributions from both the tribe and Abramoff. [5]

In the 2006 cycle, Abramoff was one of the top donors to his political action committee. (see [6]). Several of Pombo's top five donors are political influence brokers from Detroit, Michigan who mingled gambling with major league baseball when they hosted several $5,000 per person fundraisers for Pombo in their owners box at Comerica Park during the 2005 MLB All-Star Game. News reports indicated contributions from the two day fundraising event would go to RICH Political Action Committee; however, FEC reports filed by RICH PAC show only one such contribution and apparently contributions were diverted to some other entity making it difficult to track who attended and contributed.

As it is, the Ilitch family, owners of the MLB Detroit Tigers and Detroit's MotorCity Casino, are also financial backers of various Indian Tribes including one (Shinnecock Indians) seeking to build an Indian casino in the Hamptons, Long Island, New York. Various issues and tribal disputes involving the Shinnecock were before the House Resources Committee chaired by Pombo just days after the fundraiser (see [7]).

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington released a report in January 2006 naming Pombo as one of the ten most corrupt members of the House of Representatives. [8]

Pombo's staff has attempted to excise critical information regarding his ties to Abramoff from Wikipedia. [9]

Acccording to High Country News, as reported by the Argus, a newspaper in California's East Bay area, this was not just an attempt, but an actual "scrubbing/sanitizing" of his Wiki entry, done during the 2006 Super Bowl weekend.

In March 2006, it was revealed in Environmental Science & Technology that Pombo has been coordinating efforts with Pac/West Communications to weaken the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Pac/West has created the Save Our Species Alliance, an anti-environmental front group that is campaigning for Pombo's bill to change the ESA. [10]

2003 RV trip

In August 2003, Pombo and his family rented an RV and "spent two weeks on vacation, stopping along the way to enjoy ... our national parks." [11]. The 5,000-mile trip included stops in the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Joshua Tree, Sequoia-Kings Canyon and Mount Rushmore, the Badlands and other parks. The $4,935 cost of the rental was charged to the federal government.

When asked in February 2006 about the trip -- rules forbid government-funded travel for personal vacations, but allow lawmakers to bring family members on official trips, Pombo said that he had looked into flying into the parks by commercial air or charters, but found the costs to be excessive, and that after choosing to travel instead by RV, he invited his family along with him. [12]

At Yellowstone, Pombo had a lengthy meeting with the park superintendent, which a spokesman charactizered as non-official. Pombo's visit to the Badlands National Park is in dispute: the secretary to the superintendent said he did not show; a spokesman for Pombo said that Pombo was certain he was there and met with a group of Native American tribal leaders nearby. Reports concerning Pombo's visit to Joshua Tree are also contradictory. The Los Angeles Times was told that Pombo had shown up for his meeting but "they were not there." The Tracy Press was told that Pombo met with the park's acting superintendent.

Officials from Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks did not return calls seeking comment. [13][14]

2006 elections

On January 23, 2006, Pete McCloskey announced at a press conference in Lodi, California, that he will return to the political arena by running against Pombo in the Republican Party's Primary election for California's 11th Congressional district.

Pombo, 45, a six-term lawmaker who heads the House Resources Committee, is considered one of the key lawmakers behind efforts to weaken McCloskey's original 1973 Endangered Species Act.

Pombo is also being challenged by Democrat Steve Filson, an Eagle Scout who served as a fighter pilot in the Navy for 20 years.

Richard Pombo and Joseph Farah (founder of World Net Daily), This Land is Our Land: How to End the War on Private Property, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1996. ISBN 0-312-14747-3

External links
· official website
· LA Times: "A Donor Who Had Big Allies" Article about corruption and ties to Jack Abramoff.
· Tribe's backers are Pombo's Donors
· 2006 Candidates for CD-11
· Common Cause: Pombo no 'All-Star' in watchdog group's eyes
· Richard Pombo News
· Wall Street Journal article on Pombo's position as "public enemy number 1" for environmental groups
· ABC News: Congressman's donors tied to tribal dispute
· High Country News: Will the Real Mr. Pombo Please Stand Up? (Profile of Richard Pombo)
· Profile in San Diego Union Tribune
· Paul D. Thacker, "Hidden ties: Big environmental changes backed by big industry Lobbyists and industry officials who once pushed for the president’s Healthy Forests legislation now collaborate with Rep. Pombo to alter the Endangered Species Act", Environmental Science & Technology, March 8, 2006.