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  Sierra Magazine
  September/October 2006
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Sierra Magazine
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Two-Time Losers
Turns out some of the most anti-environmental members of Congress are also ethically challenged. Sierra surveys the bottom of the barrel.
By Paul Rauber
September/October 2006

0% Club
According to the LCV, these members of Congress got every important environmental vote in 2005 absolutely wrong.

House of Representatives

ALABAMA
Robert Aderholt (R)
Spencer Bachus (R)
Terry Everett (R)
ALASKA
Don Young (R)
ARIZONA
Rick Renzi (R)
ARKANSAS
John Boozman (R)
CALIFORNIA
John Campbell (R)
John Doolittle (R)
Wally Herger (R)
Dan Lungren (R)
Gary Miller (R)
Devin Nunes (R)
Bill Thomas (R)
COLORADO
Bob Beauprez (R)
Marilyn Musgrave (R)
FLORIDA
John Mica (R)
GEORGIA
Nathan Deal (R)
Tom Price (R)
Lynn Westmoreland (R)
ILLINOIS
Henry Hyde (R)
Don Manzullo (R)
John Shimkus (R)
Jerry Weller (R)
INDIANA
Dan Burton (R)
Steve Buyer (R)
Mike Sodrel (R)
Mark Souder (R)
IOWA
Steve King (R)
KANSAS
Jerry Moran (R)
Jim Ryun (R)
Todd Tiahrt (R)
KENTUCKY
Ron Lewis (R)
Anne Northup (R)
Hal Rogers (R)
LOUISIANA
Rodney Alexander (R)
Richard Baker (R)
Jim McCrery (R)
MINNESOTA
John Kline (R)
MISSISSIPPI
Chip Pickering (R)
Roger Wicker (R)
MISSOURI
Todd Akin (R)
Sam Graves (R)
Kenny Hulshof (R)
NEBRASKA
Jeff Fortenberry (R)
Lee Terry (R)
NEVADA
Jim Gibbons (R)
Jon Porter (R)
NEW MEXICO
Steve Pearce (R)
NORTH CAROLINA
Robin Hayes (R)
OHIO
John Boehner (R)
Michael Oxley (R)
Ralph Regula (R)
Jean Schmidt (R)
OKLAHOMA
Tom Cole (R)
Ernest Istook (R)
Frank Lucas (R)
John Sullivan (R)
PENNSYLVANIA
Charlie Dent (R)
Melissa Hart (R)
Tim Murphy (R)
John Peterson (R)
Joe Pitts (R)
Don Sherwood (R)
Bill Shuster (R)
SOUTH CAROLINA
Joe Wilson (R)
TENNESSEE
John Duncan (R)
TEXAS
Joe Barton (R)
Henry Bonilla (R)
Kevin Brady (R)
Michael Burgess (R)
John Carter (R)
Mike Conaway (R)
John Culberson (R)
Kay Granger (R)
Ralph Hall (R)
Sam Johnson (R)
Kenny Marchant (R)
Michael McCaul (R)
Randy Neugebauer (R)
Pete Sessions (R)
Lamar Smith (R)
Mac Thornberry (R)
UTAH
Rob Bishop (R)
Chris Cannon (R)
VIRGINIA
Bob Goodlatte (R)
WASHINGTON
Doc Hastings (R)
Cathy McMorris (R)

Senate

GEORGIA
Saxby Chambliss (R)
KANSAS
Pat Roberts (R)
KENTUCKY
Jim Bunning (R)
Mitch McConnell (R)
MISSISSIPPI
Thad Cochran (R)
Trent Lott (R)
MISSOURI
Kit Bond (R)
NORTH CAROLINA
Elizabeth Dole (R)
OKLAHOMA
James Inhofe (R)
TEXAS
John Cornyn (R)

Representative Tom DeLay (R-Tex.)
LCV 6%

DeLay forged a strong relationship with Jack Abramoff, whom he has described as "one of my closest and dearest friends." DeLay received $65,000 in contributions from the lobbyist, as well as junkets to Russia, Scotland, and the Super Bowl. He was also a frequent guest at Abramoff's skyboxes in Washington, D.C., sports arenas. Abramoff's sweatshop-owner clients contributed $500,000 to DeLay's U.S. Family Network, a sham nonprofit that operated as a political slush fund. DeLay was indicted for money laundering related to illegally funneling corporate funds to Republican candidates for the Texas legislature in 2002. He resigned as House majority leader and announced he will not seek reelection.

A former exterminator, DeLay argued that DDT was safe and global warming a myth. As majority leader, he enforced strict party discipline on key environmental votes. Many of his aides went on to powerful jobs on K Street and found an open door when they returned lobbying for corporate interests. In his own plea-bargain agreement, former aide Tony Rudy detailed how, less than a year after leaving DeLay's employ and going to work for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, he illegally "coordinated with the leadership staff of [DeLay] to oppose better vehicle standards."


Representative Richard Pombo (R-Calif.)
LCV 6%

Pombo is the chair of the House Committee on Resources, which also oversees Native American affairs. Among Jack Abramoff's clients were the Mashpee Wampanoag of Massachusetts, who were seeking formal recognition as a tribe (the first step toward opening a casino, should Massachusetts ever allow it). Abramoff directed tribe leaders to donate $12,000 to Pombo's Rich Political Action Committee, with further donations coming from the lobbyist and others. In short order, the Mashpees were put on "active consideration" for recognition by 2007.

In line with his official concern for national parks (scouting new locations to sell off?), Pombo charged the government $4,935.87 to rent an RV so he could visit Yosemite, King's Canyon, and other parks. And since he was tooling around enjoying the scenery, he decided to take the family along, at taxpayers' expense.

Pombo has lobbied for wholesale weakening of the Endangered Species Act, oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and dilution of citizen participation in the National Environmental Policy Act. He also advocated selling off many national park and national forest parcels, as well as millions of acres of public land, to mining interests, developers, and oil and gas companies. Working with Representatives John Doolittle (R-Calif.) and Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), he quashed an investigation into the dealings of Texas financier Charles Hurwitz, owner of the Pacific Lumber Company, the largest liquidator of California's last privately owned redwoods. Hurwitz donated generously to all three.


Representative John Doolittle (R-Calif.)
LCV 0%

Jack Abramoff and his associates and clients donated $140,000 to Doolittle's campaigns and political action committees. The California representative subsequently wrote a letter to then-Interior secretary Gale Norton trying to block a new tribal casino in Louisiana that would have competed with some of Abramoff's clients. But when two other tribes represented by Abramoff sought to build casinos, Doolittle (a devout Mormon and ostensible gambling opponent) wrote letters supporting them. He also had a close relationship with military contractor Brent Wilkes, helping to steer $37 million in federal earmarks to Wilkes's company, PerfectWave Technologies. Wilkes and his associates raised $85,000 for Doolittle and paid his wife, Julie Doolittle, nearly $15,000 for consulting services. Julie also acts as her husband's fundraiser and takes an unprecedented 15 percent commission, allowing her to pocket some $180,000 over the past five years.

"The left promotes conflict. That is the tenet of communism and of the environmental movement," said Doolittle in 1999. "I want to get the top national scholars to dissect the environmental movement, identify who the left-wing leaders are, their political connections, how they get their funding, what tax laws they take advantage of, then change the game and attack them."

To this end, after the 2000 election, Doolittle launched Project Evergreen, soliciting suggestions from lobbyists and right-wing activists for anti-environmental executive orders George W. Bush might sign. "What I'm looking to do is not merely reverse the damage done but to enable the executive branch to work its will to counter that entire movement and undercut their sources of power," he wrote.

In California, Doolittle has been the chief backer of building the Auburn Dam, often called "the last big dam." Purportedly intended to protect the city of Sacramento from flooding, it would be a boon to the real-estate developers who contribute mightily to the representative. The U.S. Geological Survey reports that the dam's construction on a faultline could trigger a massive earthquake and its own rupture.


Representative Bob Ney (R-Ohio)
LCV 11%

Humorist Calvin Trillin's proposed all-purpose political slogan, "Never been indicted," may not apply much longer to Ney. In plea-bargain agreements by Jack Abramoff and three associates, Ney was implicated in criminal conduct in exchange for bribes. In return for a $10,000 contribution to the National Republican Congressional Committee, Ney helped Abramoff and his business partner, Adam Kidan, purchase SunCruz Casinos by praising Kidan and criticizing then-owner Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis in the Congressional Record. Months later, Boulis was murdered in a gangland-style hit. Five weeks after the killing, Kidan hosted a fundraiser for Ney in Abramoff's skybox.

Ney also sponsored legislation to return gaming rights to one of Abramoff's clients, the Tigua Indians. Shortly thereafter, Abramoff directed the tribe to contribute $32,000 to Ney and wrote to Tigua consultant Marc Schwartz, saying, "Our friend asked if we could help him (as in cover) a Scotland golf trip for him and some staff." Schwartz later testified that "our friend" was Ney.

Ney is no friend, however, of environmental protection. He's voted in favor of the Bush administration's petro-centric national energy policy, against raising fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks, and for expediting approval of logging projects in national forests. After the LCV named Ney as one of its "Dirty Dozen" members of Congress, his office said he "wears it as a badge of pride that the radical environmental community is opposing him."


Representative J. D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.)
LCV 6%

As co-chair of the House Native American Caucus, Hayworth was well placed to help Jack Abramoff and his tribal clients. From 2001 to 2004, Hayworth received more than $64,000 in Abramoff-connected donations and employed the lobbyist's skyboxes for four fundraisers, neglecting to report the contribution. Hayworth eventually said he would give the $2,250 Abramoff personally donated to him to the Salvation Army but declined to return the rest of the money. As his chief of staff explained to the Arizona Republic: "The tribes have told us, 'We love you. We loved you before we met Jack Abramoff, and we love you after Jack Abramoff, and we think it would be foolish of you to [give back] the money.'"

Pick an environmental issue and Hayworth is almost sure to vote on the wrong side of it. For example, he's voted against implementing the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, for deauthorization of critical habitat for endangered species, and in favor of oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.


Representative Jim Ryun (R-Kans.)
LCV 0%

In 1999, the U.S. Family Network, a nonprofit funded largely by several of Jack Abramoff's clients, bought a Capitol Hill townhouse. Known as the "safe house," it accommodated the political action committee of Representative Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and a variety of associated lobby shops and slush funds, including the USFN itself. (Abramoff's clients funneled $2.3 million through the nonprofit to various causes favored by Abramoff and DeLay.) In 2000, the USFN sold the property to Ryun for as much as $100,000 below market value, taking a $19,000 loss on the deal. Explaining his real-estate acumen to the Topeka Capital-Journal, Ryun said, "You have to look and be at the right place at the right time."

Ryun follows the House leadership's line when it comes to environmental votes. That means--among much else--he supported new oil refineries, opposed incentives for alternative fuels, and voted against critical-habitat protection for endangered species.


Senator Conrad Burns (R-Mont.)
LCV 5%

The senator from Montana turns out to have a soft spot for the Saginaw Chippewas of Michigan, a wealthy gambling tribe represented by Jack Abramoff. Even though every Saginaw Chippewa receives $70,000 a year in gambling proceeds, the tribe wanted $3 million from a federal program meant for impoverished Native schools. Over the objections of the Interior Department, Burns earmarked the money for the Chippewas--after receiving $145,000 in donations from Abramoff and his clients and associates. He also reversed his position on the sweatshop industry in the Northern Mariana Islands (another Abramoff client) only weeks after receiving a $5,000 donation from one of the companies involved. Burns denies any undue influence from Abramoff, but the lobbyist sees it differently: "Every appropriation we wanted [from Burns's Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior] we got," he boasted in Vanity Fair. "Our staffs were as close as they could be. They practically used Signatures [Abramoff's D.C. restaurant] as their cafeteria."

Burns has been a bitter opponent of wolf restoration ("Mark my words, if they put wolves in Yellowstone, there'll be a dead child within a year") and doesn't believe in global warming ("You remember the Ice Age? It's been warming ever since, and there ain't anything we can do to stop it."). He has also been a strong congressional champion of opening roadless areas to logging and development, and has supported testing pesticides on human subjects.


Representative Charles Taylor (R-N.C.)
LCV 6%

Taylor joined Senator Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) in lobbying the Interior Department on behalf of the Saginaw Chippewas (see previous item). As with Burns, the concern for a tribe far from Taylor's state coincided with a donation from Jack Abramoff. Taylor also held a fundraiser at Abramoff's D.C. restaurant but failed to reimburse the restaurant or the lobbyist for the expense, later lamely denying that it even was a fundraiser because he had "received no checks there."

Taylor used his position on the House Appropriations Committee to earmark funding to send students from Russia to study in North Carolina. The program is coordinated by his Russian business partner, the wife of an ex-KGB general.

In North Carolina, Taylor has revived a decades-old attempt to build the North Shore Road through the wildest part of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If built, the road would be a 30-mile gash through the largest roadless mountain tract on the East Coast.


Senator John Cornyn (R-Tex.)
LCV 0%

Prior to his 2002 election to the Senate, Cornyn, as Texas attorney general, led an effort to shut down the Tigua Indians' casino near El Paso. One of Jack Abramoff's clients, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, also wanted the rival casino closed, so Abramoff joined with Ralph Reed (ex-head of the Christian Coalition) and the former top aide of Representative Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), Michael Scanlon, to drum up support for Cornyn's effort. (After the casino was shut down, Abramoff and Scanlon managed to convince the Tiguas to pay them $4.2 million to get the gaming license back.)

Cornyn claimed that his efforts to close the casino were independent and that he was never in contact with Abramoff or Scanlon. On November 12, 2001, however, Reed e-mailed Abramoff, saying, "Get me the details so I can alert cornyn and let him know what we are doing to help." On January 7, 2002, Reed wrote, "I think we should budget for an ataboy for cornyn." It's not clear what the "ataboy" consisted of, although Abramoff did donate the maximum allowable $1,000 to Cornyn's senatorial campaign.

As Texas attorney general, Cornyn warned against groups with "a wish list for future mass state lawsuits [targeting] car rental companies, pharmaceutical firms, makers of lead paint, and gun manufacturers." At the time, Rhode Island was suing lead paint manufacturers, including NL Industries, controlled by a Dallas corporate raider who had contributed $31,000 to Cornyn.


Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.)
LCV 6%

Cunningham admitted to accepting $2.4 million in bribes, much of it allegedly from defense contractors Mitchell Wade and Brent Wilkes, in exchange for $250 million in contracts. Payments were made in the form of personal checks, a yacht, and (amid much else) a Louis Philippe–period commode. Wilkes maintained suites at Washington, D.C., hotels, where he entertained Cunningham and others with poker parties; the Wall Street Journal reported that Wade told investigators that he and Wilkes supplied the representative with prostitutes as well. Wilkes denies Wade's allegations.

In a speech on the House floor in 1995, Cunningham famously declared that Democrats who did not want to weaken the Clean Air Act were "the same ones who would put homos in the military." In 1996, he was a sponsor of a bill to weaken protection for dolphins from tuna fishers; the Humane Society called him a "menace to any furred, feathered, or finned creature."


Representative Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.)
LCV 6%

The chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, Lewis is being investigated for his ties to his old friend Bill Lowery, a former representative from San Diego who opened a K Street lobbying firm. Among the firm's clients was defense contractor Brent Wilkes, who gave Lewis $60,000. Many of Lewis's aides became influential lobbyists, making it big due to their ability to win coveted earmark contracts. Aide Jeffrey Shockey left and lobbied the representative, then returned to work for Lewis after receiving a nearly $2 million "buyout" from his lobbying firm.

Lewis was a staunch opponent of the California Desert Protection Act, which created the Mojave National Preserve. In 1995, he used his clout on the House Appropriations Committee to try to reduce the nascent reserve's budget to $1. This year, blaming high energy prices, he voted in favor of allowing natural-gas drilling off the California coast.


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