- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Although Henry Paulson’s nomination to be Treasury secretary is expected to sail through Congress, conservative groups that defend individual liberties expressed adamant opposition to it yesterday because of the Goldman Sachs chairman’s ties to the Nature Conservancy.

Mr. Paulson is chairman of the environmental group, which purchases huge tracts of land to set them aside and prevent them from being developed. Property rights advocates charge that the group preys upon financially feeble rural landowners, family farmers, ranchers and tree farmers, purchasing their property at bargain prices and then selling it at a profit to the federal government.

Myron Ebell, analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, said Mr. Paulson has the potential to wreak far more havoc in economic policy than his predecessor, Paul O’Neill, who was fired in 2002 for questioning President Bush’s tax-cut plans. He said Mr. Paulson could become an outspoken advocate for curbs on global warming and other environmental causes within the administration.

“Paulson is a much more dangerous appointment than O’Neill, because the Nature Conservancy is one of the greatest threats to our constitutional liberty,” he said. People like Mr. Paulson enable the conservancy to “operate under the cloak of corporate respectability,” he said.

Mr. Ebell noted that the conservancy’s financial practices are under investigation, and “no conservative administration should consider appointing anyone who works” for the group.

Lawrence Kudlow, head of economic forecaster Kudlow & Co., called Mr. Paulson “something of a greenie,” but added that “he’s no Al Gore, and prefers technology advances by private enterprise to solve energy and any global warming issues.”

Steve Milloy, director of the Free Enterprise Action Fund in Washington, also called for withdrawal of the nomination, noting that Goldman Sachs is under investigation for its financial dealings.

Mr. Paulson “oversaw Goldman’s participation in questionable practices, including use of Goldman Sachs’ corporate assets to advance personal and family interests, and involvement in the Fannie Mae scandal,” Mr. Milloy said. “At a time when Republicans in Washington are mired in scandal, Hank Paulson is the last guy I’d want to be Treasury secretary.”

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