Last week the Tracy Press in California reported that in summer 2003, Rep. Richard Pombo rented an RV and took his family for “two weeks on vacation” — funded by $6436.38 of taxpayer money. House rules dictate “official travel may not be for personal”¦purposes.”
In recent days, Pombo has attempted to defend his 10-day, 5000-mile family vacation by saying that “there was no personal travel on this trip.” He stressed that at all his stops — from Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks to Mount Rushmore — he met with park officials on congressional business.
But many of the park officials Pombo claimed to have met, dispute the lawmaker’s claims:
The chief park naturalist at Sequoia and Kings Canyon, William Tweed, searched his records Friday and couldn’t find a sign of officials meeting with Pombo.
“I’m coming up with a blank,” Tweed said in an interview. “I do not personally remember him being here, (and that) is generally something we do recall. We pay attention, because congressmen are significant people for us.”
Joshua Tree National Park spokesman Joe Zarki, whose park was also on Pombo’s visitation list, likewise said Friday that “no one here at this point can say we met with Mr. Pombo.”
It’s probably a good thing: Pombo has proposed selling off 15 national parks if the Senate refused to allow drilling in the Alaska wildlife refuge.