ESA rewrite author Pombo took junket funding from anti-animal welfare front

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 2005:

WASHINGTON D.C.– Central California
rancher and House of Representatives Resources
Committee chair Richard Pombo (R-Tracy) enjoyed
the biggest victory of his political career on
September 29, 2005, when the House passed his
“Threatened & Endangered Species Recovery Act”
229-192, with 96 co-sponsors and little debate,
just eight days after introduction.
Rolling back the 1973 Endangered Species
Act, the chief feature-of the Pombo rewrite is a
requirement that property owners must be
compensated for any loss of land use that results
from protecting animals or habitat.
“It establishes an extraordinary new
entitlement program for developers and
speculators that requires taxpayers to pay them
unlimited amounts of money,” House Democratic
leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) told
Zachary Coile of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Playing a perceived hot hand, Pombo
followed up his ESA rewrite by introducing a
draft bill to sell 15 National Parks for “energy
or commercial development,” and to open the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other coastal
areas to more oil drilling, both perennial goals
of Congressional “wise-use” Republicans.
Backed by U.S. President George W. Bush,
the Pombo ESA rewrite may run into more
opposition in the U.S. Senate, where the ESA has
much stronger and better positioned Republican
Bob Williams of the Center for Public
Integrity and Steve Henn of the American Public
Media radio program Marketplace interrupted
Pombo’s momentum by disclosing on October 18 that
Pombo “may have broken the law by not paying
taxes on at least two foreign trips costing more
than $23,000, paid for by the nonprofit
International Foundation for the Conservation of
Natural Resources.”
The misleadingly named IFCNR is a
wise-use front that “received donations from
nearly three dozen funders from 2000 to 2004,”
Williams and Henn said. “Most of the money came
from the food, agriculture, or fur industries.”
The top listed IFCNR donor was Darden
Restaurants, owners of Red Lobster and Olive
Garden restaurant chains, contributing $574,000.
Red Lobster sales of Canadian snow crabs are
under boycott by the Humane Society of the U.S.
and other groups as a pressure tactic in
opposition to the Atlantic Canadian seal hunt.
The next three largest IFCNR donors were
the National Trappers Association, $143,890;
the International Fur Trade Association,
$120,000; and Monsanto Corporation, the
leading maker of bovine somatotropin, a
synthetic hormone used to artificially boost milk
production, $115,000.
“Other big donors to the IFCNR include
the Japan Whaling Association, the Maryland
Trappers Association, Caspian Star Caviar, the
[food service provider] Sysco Corporation,
Smithfield Foods, Strauss Veal Company, and the
University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast
Research Laboratory,” Willians and Henn added.
The top individual donor, contributing
$47,022, was Lori J. White, a former IFCHR
director according to Williams and Henn. White
is wife of David Wills, who was listed as the
chief contact for the IFCNR on their 2004 filing
of IRS Form 990, and was listed as an IFCHR
director in 2000.
IFCNR President Emeritus Stephen Boynton
told Williams and Henn that Wills is not an IFCNR
employee or officer, and called the listing in
2000 a mistake.
But Boynton said that Wills “is
responsible for the IFCNRs financial affairs,”
Williams and Henn summarized.
“Repeated phone calls to Wills seeking
comment were not returned,” Williams and Henn
said. “Boynton at one point agreed to set up a
meeting between the Center, Wills and himself to
discuss the foundation, but he later withdrew
that offer, saying he didn’t think it would be in
IFCNR’s best interest.”
Lori J. White, former wife of People for
the Ethical Treatment of Animals cofounder Alex
Pacheco, married Wills in June 1995. Wills was
at the time vice president for investigations
with the Humane Society of the U.S. The wedding
was jointly performed in Mexico City by then-HSUS
president John Hoyt and then-HSUS vice president
Paul Irwin, both former clergymen.
A longtime Hoyt protégé, Wills was hired
in 1972 at Hoyt’s recommendation to head the New
Hampshire Humane Society. Wills reportedly left
in 1978 just before the board discovered that
funds were missing. Hoyt then recommended Wills
to the Michigan Humane Society, where Wills was
executive director, 1979-1989. Wills resigned
from Michigan Humane when the board began
inquiring into the disappearance of $1.6 million.
Book-keeper Denise Hopkins was eventually
convicted of embezzling $56,000 of the missing
Wills next founded the National Society
for Animal Protection, but dissolved it when he
took the HSUS position. Longtime Michigan Humane
Society volunteer and employee Sandra LeBost of
Royal Oak, Michigan, in June 1995 won a $42,500
judgement against Wills for nonrepayment of loans
he solicited in connection with starting NSAP.
She was never able to collect the money.
In August 1995, three HSUS employees
sued Wills for alleged sexual harrassment and
embezzling. Suspended by HSUS soon afterward,
Wills was fired in November 1995, after ANIMAL
PEOPLE detailed his history in three-edition
series of exposes.
Wills countersued the HSUS employees who
sued him. Those cases were settled out of court
in mid-1998.
In June 1999 Wills pleaded guilty to one
count of embezzling $18,900 from HSUS between
1990 and mid-1995; agreed to pay restitution of
$67,800 to HSUS; and accepted a six-month jail
sentence. HSUS and the State of Maryland agreeed
to drop six other counts of embezzlement,
alleging thefts of $84,128.
“There are several transactions in
IFCNR’s filings that might raise flags as
possible self-dealing,” Williams and Henn
suggested, citing “A $55,000 grant in 2000 to
the now-defunct People, Ethics, Ani-mals,
Truth Institute. The PEAT Institute was run by
Wills,” Williams and Henn explained. “It
contributed $13,500 to IFCNR in 2001 and $4,315
to the group in 2003. Wills himself also
contributed $8,000 to IFCNR in 2003. A successor
entity to PEAT Institute called Sustainable
Resources Inter-national, also run by Wills,
contributed $10,000 to IFCNR in 2004.”
Council on Foundations attorney Andrew
Schultz, of Washington, D.C., pointed toward
another possible instance of self-dealing, for
which nonprofit foundations may be fined and lose
their tax exempt status. Making grants to
substantial contributors or foundation officials
is typically considered self-dealing.
“IRS records show that the vast majority
of the grants made by IFCNR from 2002 through
2004 have gone to David Sollman, of Heltonville,
Indiana, for “biodiversity study of fur trade.”
Sollman received a total of $119,153 in such
grants from IFCNR from 2002 through 2004,”
Williams and Henn reported. “Sollman is the
executive administrator of the National Trappers
Association, which in turn has been a major
contributor to IFCNR, giving the foundation a
total of $143,890 in 2003 and 2004.”
Schultz told Williams and Henn that those
transactions appeared to have been made in direct
violation of the IRS rules governing private

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