Center for Biological Diversity / Sierra Club / Southwest Environmental Center / Citizens Coal Council / Arizona Wilderness Coalition / Friends of the Earth / Campaign to Protect America’s Lands
NEWS RELEASE: for immediate release Wednesday, January 7, 2004
Industry buys access to Bush admin. & western politicians
to write anti-environmental agenda
Contact: Daniel R. Patterson, Ecologist,
CBD 520.623.5252 x 306 or 520.906.2159
PHOENIX -- Bush administration Deputy Interior Department Secretary J. Steven Griles, who is under investigation for continuing to meet with his former clients despite several recusal agreements, is one of the central figures at January 7-10 industry-sponsored golf junket, political fundraiser and policy discussion for House Republicans at the luxurious Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. Griles, a former mining and energy industry executive, is one of the administration’s key promoters of increased oil, gas and coal development at the expense of public lands and wilderness areas.
Sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Western Business Roundtable, the junket will focus on the “Top Ten to Do List” of the timber, oil, mining, development, livestock and off-road industries for the new Congress convening later this month.
“The Bush administration and industry lap-dog politicians are selling special access to corporate polluters,” said Daniel R. Patterson, Desert Ecologist with the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity, who used to work with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. “Industry fat cats will line up at the feeding trough as the Bush administration and GOP politicians shovel promises of environmental and public-interest law rollbacks to them. This is big money special-interest politics at its worst.”
“This ‘golf, give and grab’ event is set up for industry to have its way with Congress and to exclude the public from having a say in whether America’s natural treasures are protected or destroyed,” said Peter Altman, Director for the Campaign to Protect America’s Lands. “It is an alarming warning sign of how bad things have gotten that the timber, oil and mining industries would be this brazen about buying their way onto the Capitol Hill agenda.”
Several local and regional public-interest organizations, including the Southwest Environmental Center, Center for Biological Diversity, Citizens Coal Council, Arizona Wilderness Coalition, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and Campaign to Protect America’s Lands will hold a press conference to release their “Top Ten Resolutions for President Bush and Congress” at 3pm on Thursday (January 8th) in Palo Verde room of the Biltmore Hotel, 2400 East Missouri, Phoenix 85016.
According to promotional materials distributed by sponsors of the Capital Hill junket, the junket “will feature several days of events designed to give a limited number of business leaders the opportunity to share ideas, concerns and suggestions with many national policymakers. You’ll hear the latest from government and industry insiders on a wide array of issues. And, you’ll get to participate in a work session with Members of Congress and others in developing a ‘Top Ten To Do List’ for Congress. This conference is by design small and intimate, with limited spaces available on a first-come, first-served basis.”
The prominence of Deputy Secretary Griles in this blatant ‘cash-and-carry’ political setting shows that both he and the Bush Administration are not serious about addressing his grave ethical lapses when it comes to inappropriate dealings with industry,” said Kristen Sykes, Interior Department Watchdog for Friends of the Earth. “It is one thing to be perched in the lap of industry and it is another thing to be this blatant about advertising that fact. And that concern does not extend only to Griles, but to every Member of Congress who would allow themselves to be wined, dined and financed in this fashion.”
The event features a Wednesday fundraiser with proceeds going to the Western GOP Majority Committee, which describes itself in these terms: “The Western GOP Majority Committee is not a Political Action Committee (PAC) or a so-called ‘Leadership PAC.’ Instead, it is a campaign committee similar to any other committee set up by an individual candidate for federal office. Contributions to this event are made to the Western GOP Majority Committee, which will in turn disburse proceeds equally to the participating campaign committees of the Members of Congress. Those PACs or individuals who contribute to this event only need to report their single contribution to the Western GOP Majority Committee.”
Organizers say that the Chamber of Commerce/Western Business Roundtable junket is expected to be attended by: U.S. House Appropriations Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chair Jim Kolbe (AZ); U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee Member John Shadegg (AZ); U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Member J.D. Hayworth (AZ); Deputy Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Jeffrey Holmstead; U.S. House Resources Committee Chair Richard Pombo (CA); U.S. House Western Caucus Chair Chris Cannon (UT); U.S. House Resources Committee Vice Chair Jim Gibbons (NV); U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee Member Butch Otter (ID); U.S. House Water Resources & Environment Subcommittee Vice Chair Steve Pearce (NM); U.S. House Energy & Mineral Resources Subcommittee Chair Barbara Cubin (WY) cancelled; U.S. House Government Reform Committee Member John Carter (TX); U.S. House Resources Committee Member Rob Bishop (UT); U.S. House Forestry Subcommittee Vice Chair Denny Rehberg (MT); U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee Member Darrell Issa (CA); U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee Member Lee Terry (NE); U.S. House Standards of Official Conduct Committee Chair Joel Hefley (CO) cancelled; U.S. House Budget Committee Member Tom Tancredo (CO); U.S. House Financial Services Committee Member Rick Renzi (AZ); U.S. House Railroads Subcommittee Vice Chair Jon Porter (NV) cancelled; and U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Member Michael Burgess (TX).
For an advance copy of the public-interest resolutions, a list of industry campaign contributions to participating politicians, and industry RSVPs for the event, contact Pete Altman at 202.607.6948.
USA Today article: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2004-01-07-junket-usat_x.htm
Details on the Hill junket: www.westernroundtable.com/2004_summit/info_general.htm
Details on the Golf Tournament: www.policycommunications.com/2004_WEST_funder_RSVP.asp
Details on the record of J. Steven Griles: www.firegriles.com
Media may attend the junket free (without meals).