And Still They Rise
June 12, 2007
Bill Berkowitz is a freelance writer who covers right-wing groups and movements.
Paraphrasing General Douglas MacArthur’s famous quote about old soldiers not fading away, old conservative politicians don’t fade away; they join high-powered lobbying firms and right-wing think tanks.
If you thought you’d heard the last from such conservative stalwarts as former California Congressman Richard Pombo, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and former Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, fuhgeddaboutit. Despite each of them being handily defeated last November by Democrats, these three right wing ideologues have landed squarely on their feet in well-funded positions, affording them multiple opportunities to continue agitating for various aspects of their political agenda.
During his tenure in the House, Pombo was an ethical and environmental nightmare. As chairman of the House Resources Committee—before he lost his seat in 2006 to Democrat Jerry McNerney—Pombo was the proud author of a number of environmentally insensitive proposals, including the authored the "Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act of 2005" which gives the authority to charge and retain recreation fees for the use of public lands and which serves as the bedrock upon which the pay-to-play Disneyfication of the national parks and other public lands, is being constructed.
Pombo was closely linked to GOP uber-lobbyist and now imprisoned Jack Abramoff, and in September 2005, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington named Pombo one of the "13 Most Corrupt Members in Congress."
Pombo’s defeat has move him from the electoral arena to a lobbying position, having recently been appointed chairman of an organization called Partnership for America. Earlier this year he signed on with Pac/West as a senior partner.
Partnership for America bills itself as a "grass-roots alliance" promoting freedom, jobs and a clean environment.
Pac/West Communications is a lobbying/consulting firm that has managed to secure a $3 million contract with the state of Alaska to "educate" Americans about the value and importance of drilling for oil in the state, a project dear to the heart of Pombo.
According to the Anchorage Daily News , Pac/West is run by Paul Phillips, a former Republican state senator from Oregon, “known as his legislature's ‘premier operator,’ both praised and criticized for his sly mastery of the legislative process.
“A consummate dealmaker and pro-business Republican, Phillips was investigated for mixing politics and private consulting. A 1990 ethics fine may have derailed congressional aspirations, said the Oregonian.” Phillips retired in 1996 and joined up with Pac/West. “Using Alaska's funds, Pac/West funded a media-message group, Americans for American Energy,” the Anchorage Daily News reported.
The group was located in the same Golden, Colo. office of a subcontractor called Policy Communications Inc., “which received $125,000 for professional services in May and June last year, according to state billing records.”
And here, according to the Anchorage Daily News , is where the story really gets interesting:
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