Wednesday, September 10, 2008


This story was updated here.

For the second year in a row, the ethics watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has named Congressman and United States Senate candidate Steve Pearce as one of the 20 most corrupt members of Congress. CREW's 4th annual report, released today, said Pearce's inclusion on the list is a result of his "trading legislative assistance for campaign contributions," among other questionable ethics violations.

"CREW's report confirms that Steve Pearce is and always has been in Big Oil's pocket," said Democratic Party of New Mexico Executive Director Josh Geise. "As a Congressman Steve Pearce has consistently put the interests of Big Oil companies ahead of those of average New Mexicans, and as a Senator there's no reason to think he would act any differently."

Steve Pearce has been an unabashed advocate for opening Otero Mesa to more drilling while at the same time taking tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from some of Otero Mesa's largest lease holders, according to the report.

Read the full report here .

Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said today, "With soaring gas prices, a housing market in crisis, rising unemployment, and a nation at war, elected officials should be prioritizing their constituents' needs over their own self-interests. Unfortunately, the members of Congress listed in CREW's Most Corrupt report have decided that their personal needs are paramount to those they represent. This report holds them accountable for those choices."

Meanwhile the State Democratic Party of New Mexico says a lobbyist who use to work for The National Restaurant Association, while congressional candidate Ed Tinsley, was the president of the group.

The National Restaurant Association contributed more than $120,000 to 9 politicians under investigation or indicted for corruption. At least one of these contributions was given after one of these politicians was under investigation and while Tinsley served a Chairman of the association.

"If Ed Tinsley felt comfortable knowingly giving political contributions to corrupt elected officials, it makes you wonder what kind of ethical standards this Washington lobbyist would have if elected to Congress," said Josh Geise, Executive Director of the Democratic Party of New Mexico. "It's time for the people of Southern New Mexico to have a Congressman that represents them, not the special interests."

For at least part of that time, he served as the Vice-Chair of the National Restaurant Association Political Action Committee and the Chairman of the association. From 1998-2008 the PAC disbursed contributions to Congressman Tom Delay, Congressman Bob Ney, Congressman Don Young and Senator Conrad Burns - all indicted or convicted in connection to the Jack Abramoff scandal. The PAC also gave to Congressman Rick Renzi, Congressman "Duke" Cunningham, Congressman John Doolittle, Congressman Ken Calvert and Senator Ted Stevens - all convicted, indicted or under investigation for bribery, corrupt land deals or other crimes.

The Restraunant Association also made a contribution to Tom Delay on February 13, 2006, after he had been indicted by a grand jury in Texas in 2005 for violating campaign finance laws and after he gave up his position as Majority Leader in January of 2006. At that time, Tinsley was heavily involved with the National Restaurant Association - he had already testified before Congress on their behalf on at least two occasions and from 2004 to 2005 he served at the Treasurer of the organization.

Photo credit: MG Bralley

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