What's the sleaziest possible way former-Rep. Dick Pombo (R-Calif.) could cap his career as a corporate bootlicker in the U.S. Congress? If you guessed "working for the same shills he worked for in Congress, only officially," well, you may be on to something! Details below.
Back in March, Paul D. Thacker wrote a piece called "Hidden Ties" about the web of connections between legislators pushing to degrade environmental laws and the big industries that stood to benefit. Follow the slime trail with me:
To counter possible negative opinion and shape a message that is palatable to political moderates, Pombo and other [Endangered Species Act] reformers have drawn on a new form of grassroots environmentalism that sides with corporate causes. One example is the Save Our Species Alliance (SOSA), which has become a prominent voice in convincing voters that change to ESA is needed. ... SOSA's campaign director is Tim Wigley [MS Word], who is also the executive director of Pac/West Communications, a public-relations (PR) firm with offices in Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, DC.
Wigley and Pac/West are no strangers to environmental reform movements. Several years ago, Wigley led Project Protect, which helped pass the Healthy Forests legislation by lobbying Congress and running advertisements and opinion pieces to influence the public in timber-rich states.
In November 2004, Pombo recognized Wigley's work with Project Protect by sending a letter [117KB PDF] to the Forest Resources Assoc. recommending Wigley for an award. "Tim's efforts in leading the grassroots campaign 'Project Protect' without question helped position the Healthy Forests Restoration Act for successful passage in the U.S. Congress," Pombo wrote. Wigley received the award and a cash prize from the association a few months later.
In August 2005, Pac/West returned the favor by hosting a fund-raiser [1.2MB PDF] for Pombo in Wilsonville, Ore., where the firm is headquartered. Around this time, the Pac/West CEO Paul Phillips, a former Oregon state senator, donated $1000 to Pombo's campaign. Members listed on IRS documents as directors for Project Protect donated an additional $3000.
Now, for the grand finale! From a piece today in Roll Call (sub. rqd.):
The former House Resources chairman [Pombo] is in talks with Pac/West Communications, an Oregon-based PR and lobbying firm that has a roster of timber and energy clients.
"We're in discussions, and we're excited about it, but we're continuing our discussions," Pac/West president Paul Phillips said. "He's an immense talent, and it would be a great addition."
The firm already has inked a deal with Pombo's former staff director, Steve Ding, to open a California office in the state capital of Sacramento. Phillips said that Ding would be working on "national issues relevant to his experience" and helping the firm conduct "integrated communications campaigns." He said the clients would be from the natural resources sector, but he declined to name them.
Is it still a revolving door if they're basically working in the same building?