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Craig Defends Timber Firms’ Money Environmental Group’s Ad Had Encouraged Him To Return $107,000 In Contributions

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, is proud of his support from timber companies and won’t grant an environmental group’s request he return $107,000 in campaign contributions from the industry, his spokesman said Friday.

“Senator Craig doesn’t apologize for receiving contributions from groups that provide jobs and incomes for families and hundreds of western communities,” said the Idaho Republican’s spokesman, Michael Franzen.

The Inland Empire Public Lands Council of Spokane took out an ad in Friday editions of The Idaho Statesman newspaper in Boise urging Craig to return $107,791 he received from industry during the 1996 election cycle.

“Give back the timber money. Show the people of Idaho that you represent them, not the timber corporations,” the ad said.

Craig, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee on forestry, will be in Coeur d’Alene on Tuesday for the last in a series of congressional workshops on his draft legislation to rewrite forest-management laws.

Environmentalists say his rewrite of the National Forest Management Act and National Environmental Policy Act would erode protection of fish and wildlife and accelerate logging on federal lands.

The newspaper ad said Craig’s draft bill is “remarkably similar” to a long list of changes suggested by timber industry lobbyists in recent testimony before Congress.

The ad said a review of records at the Federal Election Commission showed Craig received $46,500 from timber-related political action committees and another $61,291 in contributions over $200 each from individuals associated with the timber industry from 1991-96.

Craig is working actively to gather input on his legislation from a broad variety of groups, including environmentalists, the spokesman said.

A number of the changes in forest-management law suggested by the timber industry have been echoed by the Western States Governors Association and the General Accounting Office, the auditing arm of Congress, Franzen said.

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