Here’s an interesting case study in how the environmental movement is influencing this election and the tactics they are using. House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo is under severe threat in his California district, when previous results suggest he really shouldn’t be. Part of the reason is that the incredibly wealthy environmental movement has made him target #1 because of his moves to open up ANWR to help secure the American energy supply. A source tells me:
Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund opened a fully-staffed office in his northern California district (which includes farming areas in the San Joaquin Valley south of Sacramento and outlying suburbs east of San Francisco Bay) last spring. By the end of September, they had already spent more than half a million dollars and planned to spend hundreds of thousands more before election day. Americans for Conservation, a 527 independent expenditure committee set up earlier this year and controlled by Defenders of Wildlife, reported in its most recent filing that it had made media buys of 500,000 dollars, all of it aimed at defeating Pombo. The group lists only eight donors, who include an heir to the Getty oil fortune, an heir to the (Hewlett)-Packard computer fortune, and an investment partner of the husband of Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California.
But that’s not all. National Journal’s Congress Daily PM reported on October 31 that the Sierra Club’s political director said that they would spend between 300,000 and 400,000 dollars. Reporter Darren Goode wrote, “That might be a lowball figure.” And the League of Conservation Voters is also spending big bucks.
The funny thing about most of the ads paid for by these environmental groups is that they’re not about Pombo’s environmental record. Instead, they focus on alleged ethical lapses. Pombo was a close ally of former Majority Leader Tom DeLay, so he must be involved in the Abramoff scandal, no? No, the charges and insinuations have been investigated by California newspapers unfriendly to conservatives in general and to Pombo in particular. It turns out that Pombo didn’t have anything to do with Abramoff.
Seeing that the environmentalists have made the race competitive, the Democratic Congressional campaign Committee made a 112,000 dollars ad buy last week. To top it all, on November 1st former President Bill Clinton, typically running one day late for Halloween, arrived to speak at a rally for the Democratic challenger, Jerry McNerney.
Add it all up and by election day, the dollars from special interests flowing into the eleventh district of California to defeat Pombo will easily top two million.
Pombo has been exceptionally brave in standing up to the environmentalists and telling the truth that easy access to affordable energy is a tremendous boon to the American people. It is clear that the environmentalists hate him for telling that truth. Nothing would please them more than to see him defeated. This is an excellent example of how these groups spend the millions of dollars they get from people who probably don’t realize quite how heavily they engage in electioneering.
One further point on the enviro involvement in this election. The environmentalists are implacable enemies but very fickle friends. Remember when their champion, Joe Lieberman, was going through his primary battle? How much did the movement spend to help him? Zip. Zilch. Nada.