Congressman returns to
Washington as lobbyist
by Michael Doyle SUN-STAR WASHINGTON BUREAU
February 20, 2007
WASHINGTON -- Former San Joaquin Valley
congressman Richard Pombo is stepping through the
revolving door to work for a lobbying and public
relations firm that specializes in Western
resource issues. It's a match made in political
heaven, Pombo's fans and critics agree.
Today, Pombo will announce he is joining the
Oregon-based Pac/West Communications. A one-time
Tracy rancher who rose to become chairman of the
House Resources Committee, Pombo has a resume and
a rolodex alluring to Pac/West's potential
"He's had 14 years in Congress, dealing with some
of the country's toughest issues," Pac/West
President Paul Phillips noted, adding that Pombo's
hiring "will certainly give us more visibility; it
upgrades us on the national level."
Now with small offices in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon
and Washington, D.C. -- as well as a newly opened
Sacramento outpost -- Pac/West employs about two
Pac/West's past and present clients include a
number who've had business before Congress in
general and the House Resources Committee in
particular. They have ranged from the timber giant
Georgia Pacific to Safari Club International and
the multi-member Save our Species Alliance.
With corporate funding, the Save our Species
Alliance supported Pombo's unsuccessful efforts to
rewrite the Endangered Species Act. Pombo's
aggressive distaste for the existing law, in turn,
helped spur environmental groups to pour money
into helping defeat him last November.
Pac/West personnel had previously helped champion
a "healthy forests" law backed by Pombo and
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the online
periodical Environmental and Science Technology
reported. The law signed by President Bush in
December 2003 was promoted as necessary to speed
thinning of dangerously overgrown forests.
"It makes perfect sense that he would join them,"
Mark Longabaugh, political director for Defenders
of Wildlife Action Fund, said Monday. "Here's a
group that is as interested in undermining the
Endangered Species Act as he was."
Phillips said he first met Pombo six or seven
years ago. In August 2005, Phillips hosted a
fundraiser for Pombo's political action committee,
which Federal Election Commission records show
received checks from the likes of the Friends of
"Rich is very talented, and his being hired by a
group like this makes a lot of sense," said Rep.
Devin Nunes, R-Visalia.
Pombo will be based out of Pac/West's Sacramento
office, where his former chief of staff Steve Ding
has also joined the firm. Ding will "focus on
expanding Pac/West's presence in California and
extending the agency's services to global clients
in key markets," the company states.
Pombo anticipates a different role, with Phillips
saying he will "help identify national clients,"
among other tasks. Phillips, a former member of
the Oregon Legislature, said Pombo might end up
registering as a lobbyist just to ensure all legal
requirements are met. Hands-on lobbying, though,
is not where Pombo's responsibilities are supposed
"I don't envision Richard as a lobbyist walking
the halls in Washington," Phillips said.
Any formal lobbying, moreover, will have to wait.
Former House members are prohibited from trying to
influence Congress for a year after they leave