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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

All Three NM Repubs Make CREW's Most Corrupt in Congress List

Today, the nonpartisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released its third annual report on the most corrupt members of Congress. The report, entitled Beyond DeLay: The 22 Most Corrupt Members of Congress (and two to watch), catalogues the corruption in the 110th Congress and documents the unethical and possibly illegal activities of its most tainted members. CREW has compiled the members’ transgressions and analyzed them in light of federal laws and congressional rules.

The misdeeds of New Mexico's entire Republican Congressional delegation -- Sen. Pete Domenici, Rep. Heather Wilson (NM-01) and Rep. Steve Pearce (NM-02) -- placed them among the top 22 offenders out of 535 members of Congress.

CREW also has re-launched the report’s website, BeyondDelay.com. The site offers short summaries of each member’s transgressions as well as the full-length profiles and all accompanying exhibits. I'm providing a summary of the transgressions of New Mexico's Republicans, but be sure to click on their names to access the complete reports:

Sen. Pete Domenici
Summary: Former NM U.S. Attorney David Iglesias has claimed that Sen. Domenici contacted him before the November 2006 elections to pressure him about an ongoing corruption probe into state Democrats. Iglesias previously stated that in mid-October, he was pressured about the pace of the investigation by two NM lawmakers. Initially, when asked about Iglesias’s allegations, Domenici stated, “I have no idea what he’s talking about.” Apparently, Rep. Heather Wilson first called Iglesias and Domenici called a week later. Domenici later admitted that he called Iglesias, stating “I asked Mr. Iglesias if he could tell me what was going on in that investigation and give me an idea of what time frame we were looking at."

Rep. Heather Wilson
Summary: The former U.S. Attorney in Albuquerque, David Iglesias, stated that, in mid-October 2006, two members of Congress from New Mexico pressured him about an ongoing corruption probe of state Democrats. Apparently, Rep. Wilson first called Iglesias and Sen. Pete Domenici called a week later. After Domenici admitted that he called Iglesias, Wilson finally admitted that she too had called the U.S. Attorney. Wilson stated that she contacted Iglesias to complain about the pace of his public corruption investigation. She claimed, “I did not ask about the timing of any indictments and I did not tell Mr. Iglesias what course of action I thought he should take or pressure him in any way. The conversation was brief and professional.”

Rep. Steve Pearce
Summary: 1) Rep. Pearce was the president of Lea Fishing Tools, Inc. In the fall of 2003, Pearce sold the company’s assets to Texas-based Key Energy, in exchange for 542,477 shares of common stock, but failed to include the transaction on his 2003 financial disclosure report. In that report Pearce indicated that he was the president of Trinity Industries, Inc., “F/K/A Lea Fishing Tools, Inc.,” and that he held between $5 and $25 million of stock in the company. Given that all of Lea Fishing Tools’ assets were transferred to Key Energy, it appears that Trinity Industries may be a holding company for the Key Energy stock, but this is unclear.

After selling Lea Fishing Tools’ assets to Key Energy, Pearce was required to report the sale on his financial disclosure form as a transaction, but he failed to do so. By failing to list the sale, Pearce appears to have violated the Ethics in Government Act.

2) Rep. Pearce has been a consistent and strong advocate of drilling in Otero Mesa, NM despite environmentalists and the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) assertion that only a minuscule amount of oil and natural gas lie beneath the grasslands. Pearce, however, contends that drilling in the area would keep natural gas prices level and create jobs thereby stimulating the state’s economy. Initially, the BLM opposed opening the area arguing that drilling would both directly and indirectly destruct the habitat for wildlife. In 2000, however, BLM reversed its decision and proposed a plan that would open nearly 1.4 million acres to drilling. The BLM turnaround coincided with the largest lease holder in the Otero Mesa, Yates Petroleum, donating over $230,000 to the GOP over the last three election cycles.

Yates Petroleum also has been the single largest donor to Pearce’s campaign committees since 2002 with $32,490 in donations. Individually, members of the Yates family have contributed $78,379.99 to Pearce since he first ran for office in 2002. If Rep. Pearce advocated opening up Otero Mesa to drilling in exchange for campaign contributions, he may have violated the bribery statute or accepted illegal gratuities.

Bad Company
The complete list of the most corrupt members of Congress according to CREW:

Members of House:                     Members of the Senate:
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA)               Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM)
Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-CA)        Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL)               Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA)            Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK)
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA)       Dishonorable Mention:
Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA)                Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID)
Rep. Gary G. Miller (R-CA)            Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)
Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV)
Rep. Timothy F. Murphy (R-PA)
Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA)
Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM)
Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ)
Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY)
Rep. David Scott (D-GA)
Rep. Don Young (R-AK)
Rep. Jerry Weller (R-IL)
Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R-NM)

“Every year CREW creates this compendium of corruption to expose and hold accountable those members of Congress who believe they are above the law,” Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW said today. “With the third edition of Beyond DeLay it has become abundantly clear that many public officials believe that the rules don’t apply to them.”

Several members in the study are already under federal investigation including: Reps. Calvert, Doolittle, Feeney, Jefferson, Lewis, Miller, Mollohan, Murphy, Renzi and Young, as well as Senator Stevens.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit, nonpartisan legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, you can visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact Naomi Seligman Steiner at 202.408.5565 or [email protected].

September 18, 2007 at 03:14 PM in 2008 NM Senate Race, Crime, Ethics & Campaign Reform, NM-01 Congressional Race 2008, NM-02 Congressional Race 2008, U.S. Attorney Iglesias | Permalink

Comments

Why am I not surprised. They follow their leader Bush who also thinks he's above the law. It's the main plank in the Republican platform isn't it? "We're above the law but voter fraud is rampant and illegal." Ha ha.

Posted by: Red or Green | Sep 18, 2007 4:17:42 PM

WOW, now there is a list all three of them ought to be proud to write home about, especially Ms "Air Force High Integrity" Wilson.

Posted by: VP | Sep 18, 2007 8:45:56 PM

This is the year we get rid of fake Heather and creaky Domenici once and for all. Martin Heinrich and Don Wiviott have my vote. I can't see how anyone who isn't a die hard Republican can vote for Wilson or Domenici any more. They are owned by bad special interests and run by Bush and his criminal friends.

Posted by: I Vote | Sep 19, 2007 12:21:55 PM