WCF Exhibit 5: “McCombs is rattling cages.”

By April 7, 2016Wolf Creek

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This is part of our Wolf Creek Files blog series. Each post explains, in detail, the context behind an email or string of emails: who is writing, what is being discussed, and why it concerns us.

Click here to see previous exhibits.


WHO:

 

McCombs & Associates:

  • Red McCombs, Village at Wolf Creek developer
    Texas-billionaire who owns a inholding on Wolf Creek Pass on which he hopes to build an 8,000-person resort
  • Adam Poe, Western Land Group
    Works for the developer, Red McCombs
  • Harry Adams, Real Estate Portfolio and Asset Manager – McCombs Enterprise
    Works for the developer, Red McCombs
  • Clint Jones, Project Leader, Village at Wolf Creek
    Lead developer for the Wolf Creek development Red McCombs hopes to build

Forest Service:

  • Jim Bedwell, Director of Recreation, Lands, & Minerals, Rocky Mountain Region, USDA Forest Service
    Forest Service employee working on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)*
  • Dan Jiron, Regional Forester, Rocky Mountain Region, USDA Forest Service
    Oversees National Forests in the Rocky Mountain Region
  • Maribeth Gustafson, Deputy Regional Forester, Rocky Mountain Region, USDA Forest Service
    Oversees National Forests in the Rocky Mountain Region
  • Dan Dallas, Forest Supervisor, Rio Grande National Forest
    Decision maker who oversaw the EIS process*
  • Adam Mendoca, Deputy Supervisor, Rio Grande National Forest
    Forest Service employee working on EIS

WHAT:

In this exhibit, we’ve picked a few emails from October 2014 from Jim Bedwell to other Forest Service employees. Bedwell continually cites regular phone conversations between Red McCombs’ lobbyists and government decision makers. See full email chain here.

Email #1:

Jim Bedwell writes that Maribeth Gustafson (the Deputy Regional Forester, DRF) spoke with some of Red McComb’s lobbyists who voiced Red’s annoyance about the Wolf Creek land exchange approval process – “McCombs is rattling cages.”
WCF5a

Email #2:

An hour later, Jim Bedwell warns other Forest Service employees that Adam Poe, who works for Red McCombs, is calling around asking for a decision date. He says Poe told him “Red McCombs is getting ‘frustrated’ and may ‘begin making calls to his friends in Washington.’”

WCF5b

Email #3:

That evening Jim Bedwell sent out another email to Forest Service employees that he just got off the phone with Harry Adams and Clint Jones, two more of McComb’s lobbyists and was told that “Red was very frustrated and ‘Red will do what Red will do’ in terms of political contacts” because the EIS approval process was taking longer than he wanted it to.

WCF5c

WHY:

As a party interested in the results of the EIS, Red McCombs and his lobbyists are allowed to inquire about the process. He is not, however, allowed to use his political power to influence the decision. The emails above are three of many received thus far through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests ** that confirm that many of these phone calls contained threats aimed at influencing the EIS analysis process and decision (See WCF Exhibit 3 for another).

Red McCombs may be worth $1.5 billion dollars, but that doesn’t give him the right to use friends in high places to impact the decisions the government makes on the behalf of all citizens.


* When the Forest Service considers a change to Forest Service land that would potentially negatively impact the environment they are required to do an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
** Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests can be filed by the public (anyone) to obtain records (emails, reports, phone records, etc.) relevant to how a public agency came to a certain decision. The law’s intent is to create transparency regarding how the government is acting on the public’s behalf.

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