DeThrone DeLay Latest News Archive
Archive of Latest News on DeLay
• Delaware's News Journal expresses support of GOP Representative Michael Castle's (R-Del.) run for a committee chairmanship in the House and scolds House Speaker Hastert (R-Ill.) and Majority Leader DeLay (R-Texas) for failing to recognize a member who acts on 'principle.'
[Michael Castle] thinks and acts on principle, and doesn't blindly follow every mandate from Speaker Dennis Hastert or Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
-- June 29, 2005
• Locals are protesting Rep. Doc Hastings' (R-Wash.) district office in the hopes that he will step down as House ethics chairman, reports a local television news station.
"We don't feel and many Americans don't feel that Doc is capable of making a decision without some kind of consideration as to who contributed to him and I would say the same if it were a democrat," said Benton County Democrat Chair Mimi Latta.
-- June 28, 2005
• As reported in Saturday's Washington Post, the head of the House ethics committee himself has failed to file appropriate travel disclosure forms on time. The missing disclosure form should detail a $3,170 trip to Canada by Hastings last year. Staff members to Rep. Hastings office (R-Wash.) explain that the forms were 'lost in the mail.' What next? Did the dog eat your quarterly FEC filings? -- June 25, 2005
• Time Magazine fleshes out the rest of last week's hearing of the Senate Indian Affairs committee on the activities of scandal-ridden lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former DeLay spokesman Michael Scanlon, paying close attention to the relationship between anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist, former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed and Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon. -- June 27, 2005
• The New York Times updates the David Grosh story:
"Who comes to an investigative hearing without a lawyer?" asked Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21, a watchdog group. "It was highly unusual, and the testimony he gave and the responsibility he took was in stark contrast to the much larger story playing out in this investigation of extraordinary greed, avarice and abusive activities."
• A Democratic blog provides a clip of DeLay describing what he deems "the truth" about Democrats' response to 9/11. -- June 27, 2005
• Despite his condemnation of partisan rhetoric when referring to his own ethical woes, DeLay seemed happy to use inflammatory, partisan language when speaking to College Republicans at their biennial convention today. Reports Congress Daily:
Keeping in tune with the partisan rhetoric tossed around Washington this week, House Majority Leader DeLay today addressed an enthusiastic crowd at the College Republicans National Committee biennial convention on the psyche of the Democratic Party, which he described as a “disturbing liberal psychology to believe the world’s problems are America’s fault.” DeLay again criticized Minority Leader Pelosi and Senate Minority Whip Durbin for their recent statements on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the treatment of detainees, arguing that Democrats believe there is a “bottom sum equivalence” between terrorists and U.S. treatment of terrorists. Democrats are “angry, extremist, uncensored, unplugged and unhinged,” DeLay said.
“The contempt that Democratic leaders show these days for the president and conservatives in general is just jaw-dropping.” DeLay also called on the Republican youth—some of whom were wearing “I’m for NRA & Tom DeLay” stickers and waving “DeLay for U.S. Congress” posters—to keep the faith in the party, which is “still an engine of ideas and ideals.”
DeLay defended Rove today. “That’s not slander; that’s the truth,” DeLay said.
-- June 24, 2005
• The LA Times editorializes on recent reports showing the sharp increase in lobbying expenditures seen in Washington in recent years. The Times suggest that corporate interests have blossomed under GOP leadership in Congress and the White House.
The influence of corporate lobbyists over government is not just as bad under the GOP as it ever was under Democrats. It's far worse.
-- July 24, 2005
• Slate.com writer Michael Crowley espouses on the 'ultimate symbol of Republican corruption'--golf.
Some of the best evidence about the sport's corrupting function comes from a golf retreat/fund-raiser held three years ago in West Virginia for two of DeLay's political action committees. Energy-company executives paid as much as $25,000 to attend the retreat, which was held on the eve of House and Senate negotiations over a bill in which they had a huge stake. One of the executives later described tooling about in a golf cart with a top DeLay aide and pitching his case about the bill directly to the majority leader. For this, even the somnolent House ethics committee felt obliged to admonish DeLay.
-- June 23, 2005
• News of yesterday's Senate Indian Affairs committee hearing is all over the politics pages today. The Abramoff collection:
- The New Republic updates its Washington ethics story with a piece on Abramoff's email account. Writes TNR.com:
Of all the new facts to emerge from yesterday's hearing, few are as strange as the details of Abramoff's connection to militant Israeli settlers. Newsweek reported this spring that Abramoff had funneled Indian money through his ostensibly charitable organization, The Capital Athletic Foundation, to pay for paramilitary equipment and training for Israeli settlers in the West Bank. The new batch of emails seem to confirm it. They show long exchanges between Abramoff and a West Bank settler named Schmuel Ben Zvi, a former high school friend of his from Hollywood, in which Abramoff discusses the procurement of military-use equipment for Ben Zvi and his fellow settlers.
- The Washington Post follows the more entertaining portion of yesterday's hearing, detailing the testimony of David Grosh. Grosh's laid back demeanor caused frequent tittering from hearing attendees, and served as a swift departure from the usually dry and stately conduct of witnesses and their lawyers. Also in the Post is a more sobering account of yesterday's hearing.
- Roll Call [paid subscription required] provides a bulleted list of highlights in the uncovered Abramoff-Scanlon emails. One bullet point mentions DeLay aides being wined and dined by Abramoff:
• in one e-mail to Abramoff dated August 2000, Scanlon requested permission to take two DeLay aides and one former DeLay aide out to dinner on the Choctaws tab — eventually prompting Abramoff to write, “Don’t skimp too much. I want everyone to have a good time”;
-- June 23, 2005
• The New Republic features a story on government ethics and Congressional junkets in its latest issue.
To hard-core junketeers, one devastating blow is the cancelation of the Ripon Educational Fund's annual Trans-Atlantic conference. In the past couple of years, the foundation--established to promote moderate Republicanism (but lately evincing a harder-line ideology)--has jetted members of Congress to such destinations as London and Budapest. These trips do involve weighty policy seminars on topics like economic policy and international relations. But they are also attended by dozens of lobbyists keen on cozying up to captive lawmakers.
-- June 21, 2005
• An Associated Press story carried by today's New York Times suggests that DeLay aides were instrumental in redirecting money from the Coushetta indian tribe to groups such as America 21--a Christian group dedicated to voter turnout that helped Republican candidates in the 2002. -- June 22, 2005
• Reports Congress Daily:
Citing the importance a functioning Ethics Committee in the House, Ethics ranking member Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., will reiterate today in a "Dear Colleague" for the panel to resolve the months-long staffing dispute that has deadlocked it.
Mollohan faulted Ethics Chairman Hastings for not adhering to the panel's staffing rules, which include the requirement that the panel retain a staff that has a non-partisan and professional background.
Hastings' "proposal asserts that the Chairman has the unilateral power to appoint as 'Majority Staff Director' of the Committee an individual who is a shared employee of his personal office and the Committee," according to Mollohan.
-- June 22, 2005
• Despite the constant deluge of stories involving DeLay, the White House continues to stand firmly behind the House Majority Leader, reports Roll Call [paid subscription required]. Public outrage has also been tame for DeLay, who's been admonished three times by the now-deadlocked House ethics committee. Roll Call attempts to understand why DeLay has not yet met the fate of former Senate leader, Trent Lott (R-Miss.):
“The public outcry was pretty swift,” against Lott, said one House Republican leadership aide. “With DeLay you are not seeing the groundswell of condemnation.”
The lack of public outrage stems in large part from the complex nature of the allegations against DeLay.
While a seemingly racist statement is easily digestible, questions surrounding foreign travel or the operations of a state-based political action committee are much more difficult to explain to voters.
“The DeLay controversy is much more complicated,” said a party strategist. “It has taken a long time to penetrate to where the American people would even care.”
Just as the intricacy of the charges against DeLay have largely insulated him from widespread public scrutiny, his prominence in the legislative process has helped keep him in the White House’s good graces.
-- June 22, 2005
• The New York Times reports that a lobbying firm which paid for trips taken by DeLay did in fact seek recommendation from lawyers on the House ethics committee. Internal documents from Preston Gates, reports the Times, give the appearence that the rules were unclear before 2000. Writes the Times,
The documents suggest that two committee lawyers, Ellen L. Weintraub and John Vargo, told a partner at the firm in conversations in 1996 that it probably would be acceptable for a lobbyist to pay for a lawmaker's travel as long as clients quickly reimbursed the lobbyist.
Despite these developments, DeLay continues to be mired in controversy. Writes the Times,
Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21, a watchdog group that has called for an outside counsel to investigate Mr. DeLay, said the Preston Gates document should offer little comfort to Mr. DeLay since "there are many other ethics issues involved in the investigation" beyond the logistics of the travel payments.
"Did DeLay solicit any of these trips, which would be a violation?" Mr. Wertheimer asked. "Did any of these trips involve reimbursement for recreation, which would be improper? Was there disclosure of who actually paid for these trips? We don't have answers to those questions."
-- June 21, 2005
• The Washington Times reports that Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) is refusing to disclose which members attended the posh Paris Air Show, citing "security reasons." Perhaps Stevens is referring to the 'security' of Congressional careers. The Paris Air Show, reports the Times, has been called "the biggest junket there is.":
"We don't talk about other members. They don't talk about us," Stevens spokeswoman Courtney Boone said, explaining that the secrecy surrounding the trip, which stretched from June 9 to 13, is due to "security reasons" because as the president pro tempore of the Senate, Mr. Stevens is third in line for the presidency. "It's very unusual for us to comment on trips that Senator Stevens makes because they are confidential because he's in the line of succession."
-- June 20, 2005
• The National Review criticizes Texas district attorney Ronnie Earle's agreement with TRMPAC corporate donors in which donors agreed to contribute funds to nonprofit democracy intiatives--which the Nat'l Review deems inappropriate. The Review provides a helpful link to Cracker Barrel's SEC filing of the agreement between the company and Earle's office. -- June 20, 2005
• The New York Times editorial page decries the deadlock in the House ethics committee, referring to it as a Congressional watchdog that "rolled over and is now reduced to playing dead."
It's time for Speaker Dennis Hastert to show some leadership by signaling that the ethics committee has a larger role to play than weighting the scale to favor Mr. DeLay. In the past, committee rules calling for a nonpartisan investigative chief were honored in the high-profile inquiries that dealt with abuses by Speakers Newt Gingrich, a Republican, and Jim Wright, a Democrat.
Nothing less is acceptable now. Even Mr. DeLay is urging something be done as he proclaims his innocence and complains that the standoff is putting him at risk as elections near. His junketeering at the bidding of a favored lobbyist deserves a clean investigation, as do lapses by Democrats and other Republicans alike. Instead, taxpayers are confronted with a Congressional watchdog that long ago rolled over and is now reduced to playing dead.
-- June 20, 2005
• Another tainted campaign fundraiser in which DeLay participated, this time for a Virginia Republican delegate named Jeff Frederick. Blogger Waldo Jacquith has noted that 24 contributions were reported for the fundraiser on that day, though only five in-kind contributions were listed for the filing period. -- June 20, 2005
• Where's DeLay this week? Congress Daily reports that DeLay will be giving a keynote address tomorrow (Tuesday) at a National Federation of Independent Business luncheon at the posh Mandarin Oriental Hotel. -- June 20, 2005
• Always one to joke about serious breaches of ethical integrity:
Asked by a reporter about the G8 conference next month in Scotland, DeLay interjected "now where is that?" The reporter, said "Scotland." "Scotland, on a golf course," DeLay noted, making light of his 2000 trip to Scotland, arranged by Abramoff, that included a few rounds of golf. A reporter then asked jokingly if DeLay would head up the delegation and he dryly replied, " I'm not taking any trips of late."
[More in this week's Time Magazine]
-- June 17, 2005
• You'd think he'd be a little more careful, right? Despite the ongoing ruckus over DeLay's ethics scandals, DeLay continues to engage in activities that give the appearence of impropriety. The latest ethical misstep is discussed in today's Newsday:
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay owns stock worth more than $50,000 in ExxonMobil, according to financial disclosure reports, while at the same time he is one of the driving forces behind legislation that would shield that company and other manufacturers of the gasoline additive MTBE from lawsuits that could cost them millions.
Already under fire for alleged ethical lapses, DeLay, a Texas Republican, has hired the Houston law firm Bracewell and Giuliani to defend against those charges. But the firm, in which former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is a partner, also represents a host of MTBE manufacturers in court and in Congress.
"It looks like a serious conflict of interest," said Jeffrey Stonecash, a political scientist at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. "I think the issue of owning the stock and then promoting it just doesn't look good."
-- June 17, 2005
• DeLay is losing yet another senior press aide--Communications Director Dan Allen, reports Roll Call. Allen is the third senior press aide to resign in the last six months. He joined DeLay's office just as the ethics scandals were gaining momentum in the mainstream media. -- June 16, 2005
• Unlike previous years, DeLay chose to travel within U.S. borders in 2004, according to travel disclosure reports reviewed by the LA Times. The following is a breakdown of DeLay's recent disclosure report:
DeLay reported taking a three-day trip to St. Michaels, Md., in January 2004, and a three-day trip to Richmond, Va., in November 2004. The trips were retreats paid for by the Congressional Institute, a nonprofit group, and were attended by other members of Congress and staff members.
Also in January of last year, DeLay traveled from Philadelphia to New York at the expense of IDT Inc., an international telecommunications company whose chairman, Howard Jonas, was honored there by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group.
In February 2004, the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center underwrote a DeLay trip to Palm Springs for a charitable event. And in April 2004, he traveled to Miami, courtesy of the nonprofit DeLay Foundation for Kids.
DeLay, who earned a $175,700 salary in 2004 as a House leader, reported assets that included stock in Exxon Mobil Corp. worth between $50,001 and $100,000. He earned dividends on the stock worth between $1,001 and $2,500.
The disclosure rules require lawmakers to report the values of assets and liabilities within broad ranges.
They do not have to report the value of personal residences, unless they receive rental income from the property.
The Washington Post also reports on DeLay's recent disclosure reports.
-- June 16, 2005
• In the midst of new allegations against Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.), House leaders are advocating for a 'functioning' ethics process, reports the Associated Press in the Washington Post. Reports the AP:
Copley News Service reported Sunday that Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., who sits on the powerful Appropriations defense subcommittee, sold his home in 2003 to a defense contractor who took a $700,000 loss.
Around the same time, the contractor's company, MZM Inc., reportedly began getting large government contracts.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., told reporters Wednesday he'd seen the allegations and that's why the committee was needed. "We need to get the ethics committee up and running," he said.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the Cunningham deal raised questions. Immediately after buying the house, contractor Mitchell Wade reportedly put it back on the market for nearly the same price, finally selling it nine months later at a $700,000 loss.
-- June 15, 2005
• DeLay is accusing Democrats of causing a deadlock in the House ethics committee in order to curry votes in the upcoming '06 elections, reports the New York Times.
Interviewed by the Times, Stan Brand, a former general counsel to the House said: "It's never been paralyzed this long, and it's never been paralyzed in this way. You have an evenly split committee, which makes things difficult, especially in an era when people dig in and vote along party lines. It only reflects the larger problem in the chamber."
-- June 15, 2005
• A Washington state newspaper calls for an independent counsel to investigate DeLay. -- June 14, 2005
• DeLay spotting: Roll Call's daybook has DeLay scheduled to give a speech at a NASA reception at the Madison LOC building at 5:30pm today. DeLay pushed through a significant increase in funding for the space agency (whose Johnson Space Center resides in DeLay's district) in December 2004.
The negotiators appeared to agree on $15.9 billion for NASA, but that wasn’t good enough, DeLay said later at the Space Center. “The main responsibility of the majority leader is to set the agenda for the House floor. I wouldn’t schedule the bill until NASA was taken care of,” he said.
And it was.
“Once you get into an omnibus bill, the leadership takes over, and you need to have an advocate in that circle,” Walsh said. DeLay “was getting me more allocation every time he stepped up to the plate. He made the difference.”
-- June 14, 2005
• The Associated Press, seen here in the Tallahassee Democrat, reports that U.S. senators frequently travel to exotic places around the world on the dime of private groups. -- June 14, 2005
• The number of Congress members filing late travel reports has risen to roughly 214, reports the New York Times. Not surprisingly, the tardy filers are split evenly between Demcrats and Republicans. Some members' reports are up to five years past due, according to the Times' analysis of PoliticalMoneyLine data. -- June 13, 2005
• The New York Times updates the Tigua indian tribe story. -- June 13, 2005
• The Seattle Times summarizes the response from Democrats and the media surrounding House ethics committee chairman, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) alleged ties to scandal-ridden lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Abramoff has bragged about his relationship to both DeLay and Hastings, however, much of the media frenzy isn't entirely legitimate, reports the Times:
The New York Times reported no direct contact between Abramoff and Hastings, and Hastings never introduced legislation on the issue [lobbied by Abramoff].
The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said Hastings received roughly $14,000 in contributions from Preston Gates over the past decade, and $1,000 directly from Abramoff.
"It is not surprising to have the largest law firm in Seattle contacting one of its members of Congress, and the amount of money here is not particularly steep," said Larry Noble, the center's director.
Yesterday, members of a new coalition, Washingtonians for a Cleaner Congress, also called for Hastings to resign from the ethics committee and denounced his position on the Marianas. Several coalition members from Yakima sent Hastings a letter alleging that Abramoff and Preston Gates "pressed you and your staff for help in blocking the imposition of the federal minimum wage on the Mariana Islands' sweatshops, which produced clothing labeled 'Made in USA' but kept foreign workers in virtual captivity. ... "
-- June 13, 2005
• Though DeLay's spokesmen have maintained that DeLay was only a 'figurehead' for TRMPAC, subpoened documents suggest otherwise, reports the LA Times.
• The Boston Globe reports that DeLay's children's charity has received donations from industry giants such as ExxonMobil, Southern Company, and SBC. Writes the Globe,
There are almost no restrictions on what corporations can give to nonprofits connected to politicians, making nonprofits one of the few avenues by which companies can give vast sums since the passage of a campaign-finance reform law in 2002. DeLay is one of a handful of political leaders, including Senator John McCain, a Republican of Arizona, who have started big-money charities in addition to their political work.
-- June 13, 2005
• A federal court panel Thursday rejected an appeal to the 2003 midterm congressional redistricting that was responsible for Republican victories in Texas, reports the Associated Press via the Washington Post. DeLay is known to have been instrumental in the redistricting plot, and his use of the FAA at the time was admonished by the House ethics committee. -- June 10, 2005
• More evidence has arisen of the buying and selling of democracy from 'team DeLay.' The New Republic magazine examines the perpetually-spinning revolving door in DeLay's congressional office, finding that K Street has contributed handsomely to DeLay's PACs and other pet projects. Writes the magazine:
Together, [DeLay alumni turned K Street lobbyists] represent around 350 firms and institutions, including the bulk of the country's energy firms, the giants of the finance and technology sectors, the airlines, the auto manufacturers, the tobacco companies, and the country's largest health care and pharmaceutical companies.
DeLay almost invariably came through for these lobbyists and their clients, badgering and even allegedly attempting to bribe Republicans who didn't want to back the budget-busting prescription-drug bill, blocking the Bush administration's energy bill because the Senate version didn't limit mtbe liability, and killing a provision in a tobacco bill that would have permitted FDA regulation. His success redounded in fund-raising receipts. During the 2004 election cycle, two tobacco companies, R. J. Reynolds and Brown and Williamson, gave the maximum $10,000 contributions to DeLay's PAC. Energy companies contributed $143,425 and pharmaceutical companies $106,000 to DeLay's reelection campaign in the cycle.
-- June 10, 2005
• Roll Call [paid subscription required] reports that DeLay's recent "wine and cigar" fundraiser was held at the former space of a restaurant owned by scandal-ridden lobbyist, Jack Abramoff. -- June 10, 2005
• Congress Daily reports:
House Minority Leader Pelosi offered a privileged resolution on the floor today, calling on Republicans to heed the rules of the Ethics Committee, but the measure was tabled on a party-line vote. The resolution addressed a months-long dispute between Ethics Chairman Hastings and ranking member Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., over whether Hastings can bring an aide from his personal office to work on the bipartisan investigative panel.
Democrats have protested Hastings' decision, arguing that committee rules are explicit that staff must be nonpartisan. The dispute has caused a second deadlock on the panel, which has yet to take up any substantive work this year. The resolution failed, 219-199. Earlier today, Pelosi shot back at Republicans, including Majority Leader DeLay, who have charged that Democrats are intentionally delaying committee action to push an anticipated investigation of DeLay into an election year for maximum political impact. "It's ridiculous," Pelosi said. "I would never meddle in the workings of the Ethics Committee."
-- June 9, 2005
• The LA Times looks at connections between House ethics committee chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), Jack Abramoff and the lobbying firm, Preston Gates & Ellis. Reports the Times:
In a June 1996 report to the islands' government, Abramoff's lobbying team claimed a successful push to get Hastingsto attend a hearing on oversight of the Marianasas one of its achievements for the month.
The day after the hearing, Hastingsreceived $500 from the PrestonGates political action committee. The money was given as part of a campaign fundraiser that Hastingshad, by coincidence, held the evening of the hearing day, Cassidy said.
The donation was included in at least $8,300 given to Hastings' campaign by employees of Abramoff's lobbying firms -- first PrestonGates and then Greenberg Traurig. Abramoff gave Hastings' campaign $1,000 between September 1996 and November 1997, donations Cassidy called "inconsequential."
• The Seattle Post-Intelligencer recommends an outside counsel for the ethics committee investigation into Tom DeLay:
The disclosure of close connections between House Ethics Committee chairman Doc Hastings, a powerful Seattle-based Washington, D.C., lobbying firm and embattled House Speaker Tom DeLay seals the argument that an outside special counsel should pursue the DeLay investigation.
-- June 9, 2005
• Lawmakers have suggested that the House ethics committee may not initiate another investigation into the activities of DeLay for months—and perhaps next year, reports the Washington Post. -- June 9, 2005
• The New York Times explores House ethics committee chairman, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) relationship to the lobbying firm, Preston Gates & Ellis--which is 'at the center of allegations' over ethics scandals related to Jack Abramoff and DeLay. Reports the Times:
Federal Election Commission records show that the firm and its partners have been consistent campaign contributors to Mr. Hastings, donating more than $14,000 since he entered Congress a decade ago, $1,000 of that from Mr. Abramoff.
Ethics watchdog groups said they were surprised to learn of how closely and for how long Mr. Hastings and his staff had worked with Preston Gates, which reaped millions of dollars in fees from the Northern Marianas and other lobbying clients brought to the firm by Mr. Abramoff.
"This totally reaffirms the need for an outside counsel in the case against DeLay," said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a group that has called on the ethics committee to appoint an outside investigator for the majority leader. "At a minimum there are several potential conflicts of interest here, given Representative Hastings's relationship with both the law firm and, possibly, with Abramoff."
-- June 8, 2005
• After a two-month hiatus, DeLay's ARMPAC is planning a "wine and cigar" fundraising event tonight in Washington, reports the Dallas Morning News. Ticket prices cost between $1,000 to $5,000. ARMPAC's director, Jim Ellis, is currently under indictment by a federal jury in Austin for violating Texas' ban on certain corporate contributions while working for another DeLay-founded PAC, TRMPAC. -- June 8, 2005
• The Houston Chronicle reports that DeLay has hired a second attorney to represent him in a possible ethics inquiry. Reports the Chronicle, DeLay has hired "Richard Cullen, a former state attorney general in Virginia with extensive experience in criminal law and politics," as his legal representation in future ethics investigations. -- June 7, 2005
• Some Republicans, most notably Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), fear that ethics entanglements will hurt their chances at re-election in 2006, reports the Washington Post.
In the strip malls and along the Cumberland Road where Model T's once caravanned west, Ney's constituents said that they have been shocked by the revelations and that they are starting to wonder whether he is really who they thought he was. Joseph E. Wagner, 60, a Republican and owner of a sports club, has always voted for Ney and recently shook the congressman's hand at a National Rifle Association banquet. But now he is disappointed.
"I'm beginning to think they just ought to bomb every politician out there," Wagner said over a scrambled-egg breakfast at the TeeJay's diner in Zanesville, in the Ohio Valley west of Pittsburgh. "He's just gotten completely out of control. He just got involved with the wrong people."
Ney, in a recent interview, said he has not "stayed in a bunker" throughout the controversy and that he is so busy he does not "have a lot of time to sit and worry." Using the same strategy as DeLay, Ney answers inquiries about specific allegations by saying that he will save his explaining for the House ethics committee.
"Anything questioned is in the package, and that package needs to go to the ethics committee to be discussed," he said. "I feel confident, whenever we can get this into the ethics committee, I can explain my side of it. There'll be hopefully a level there where they'll look at how we function and upon what we thought. I feel good about myself on that."
Asked about his relationship with DeLay, Ney said, "I'm a speaker's guy."
-- June 6, 2005
• The Dallas Morning News examines the deadlocked House ethics committee and provides a primer on the House ethics committee process for investigating members. -- June 4, 2005
• In response to a recent Law & Order episode in which a character responded to the recent slaying of a judge by saying, "Maybe we should put out an APB for somebody in a Tom DeLay T-shirt," Tom DeLay supporters are handing out t-shirts at a Capitol Hill metro station today, reports the Washington Times. -- June 3, 2005
• The Boston Globe goes in-depth on the relationship between the gambling industry, scandal-ridden lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the GOP.
Also, this week's National Journal reports that Bob Ney's former chief of staff, Neil Volz, has been hired as a lobbyist (through his firm, Greenberg Traurig) for an online gambling firm, the International Interactive Alliance. Volz was Ney's chief of staff when Abramoff had Ney insert a provision into an unrelated bill that would have allowed the Tigua Indians to re-open their casino. The Tigua Tribe contributed $32,000 to Ney in 2002.
Volz served as Abramoff's primary contact point as Abramoff lobbied for the Tigua provision. Not long afterwards, Volz left Ney to work for Abramoff. and soon thereafter Volz left Ney's office and went to work for Jack Abramoff, allegedly violating the one-year "time out" on lobbying required after leaving the U.S. House. During his stint in Congress, Volz also worked as Committee staff director for the House Administration Committee.
The International Interactive Alliance gave $500,000 in 2003 to the Capital Athletic Foundation--a charity founded and administered by Abramoff.
-- June 3, 2005
• The National Journal reports that a CBS News poll found that 68 percent of those surveyed believe Congress does not share their priorities for the nation. Also, a plurailty--48 percent--expressed a negative opinion of the GOP in Congress. Opinion on Democrats split roughly evenly.
As for DeLay, he scored a 6 perecent favorability rating, which seems low except for the fact that 56 percent of respondents said they hadn't heard enough about him, while the remaining 18 percent had an unfavorable opinion of him.
-- June 4, 2005
• The Dallas Morning News reports that DeLay has begun his ballot petition drive. Reports the newspaper:
[DeLay spokeswoman Shannon Flaherty] said the campaign hadn't planned to collect signatures so early, but so many supporters offered to pitch in that it made sense to channel their energy.
Democrats called the early petition drive a sign of someone scrambling to survive.
"Tom DeLay is in trouble. His support at home is at a historic low," said Bill Burton, communications director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, predicting: "He's in for the toughest fight of his congressional career."
-- June 2, 2005
• Philadelphia-area residents affiliated with MoveOn.org confronted their congressman, Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) yesterday with a petition of 1,083 signatures from Fitzpatrick's constituents demanding that he return $5,000 of campaign funds he received from Tom DeLay's ARMPAC, and that he replace the Majority Leader in Congress. Fitzpatrick wouldn't say whether he supported DeLay, reports the Intelligencer.
-- June 2, 2005
• The controversy surrounding trips taken by Rep. DeLay and others has created a stir in Congress, reports the Associated Press via CBS News. An AP review of records found that at least 43 House members and numerous aides failed to properly to disclose information. 198 recently filed travel reports that were as much as eight years late, reports the AP. -- May 31, 2005
• The Washington Post provides a detailed graphic on privately-financed travel by Washington-area lawmakers. -- May 31, 2005
• Roll Call has obtained a copy of GOP talking points for members of Congress to use regarding NBC's recent airing of a 'Law & Order' episode that referenced Tom DeLay. Reports Roll Call:
House GOP Conference Vice Chairman Jack Kingston (Ga.) has been out on the TV circuit blaring outrage. Kingston instructed Members who serve on the House GOP message team to “repeat that this was a PERSONAL swipe at Tom DeLay during sweeps week.” In a memo to his message folks, Kingston gave four talking points, telling Members to stay on message that “L&O” finished “dead last” in sweeps week, is biased and liberal, and, in what he called “outrageous and over-the-top,” associated DeLay with a “racist, anti-semitic judge killer.”
Then he suggested some “zingers” for GOP Members to use on the subject. Criticize NBC’s Katie Couric for one. And secondly and most importantly, he said, “Turn the tables for a minute: You never see TV shows depicting a 15-year-old teenage girl driving across the state border to get an abortion with a Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton T-shirt on.”
-- May 31, 2005
• The Texas Observer speculates on the subtext of a Republican tribute dinner for DeLay. Writes the Observer,
Even more unusual was the House Republican Conference passing on a “lifetime achievement” banquet for its own majority leader. Only 20 to 25 members of the 233-member Republican Conference DeLay leads turned out to support him. Melissa Hart, the Pennsylvania Republican whose work DeLay praised during his speech at the banquet, had said she would be there. Then she declined. No one from the Texas delegation showed up. Denny Hastert phoned in his congratulations. National Republican Congressional Committee chair Tom Reynolds did the same but stayed away. Republican House Conference chair Deborah Pryce was not on the video screen or in the room.
-- May 27, 2005
• A judge has ruled against a DeLay group official, reports ABC News. The texas judge ruled that the treasurer of DeLay's TRMPAC violated election code in a civil case brought by Democratic candidates. -- May 25, 2005
• Tom DeLay is expected to take to the stage once again--this time to urge opposition to a bill that would fund stem cell research, reports The Hill. -- May 24, 2005
• On Sunday's Meet The Press, DNC Chairman Howard Dean said while speaking on the issue of Tom DeLay as House Majority Leader, "I think one of the things that we're going to insist on is ethics in government. I'd like some real political and campaign and electoral reform..." -- May 23, 2005
• Roll Call reports that DeLay-led ARMPAC filed even more amended financial reports Friday "as it sought to rectify accounting problems identified by an ongoing Federal Election Commission audit." Though the political action committee has now amended 23 reports for parts of 2003, 2004 and 2005, the PAC's lawyer Don McGahn contends that there "are no serious substantive violations." -- May 23, 2005
• Hastings (R-Wash.) and ranking member Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va) has prevented the committee from moving ahead with its investigations, reports Roll Call.
[Mollohan] has stuck to the position that because the ethics committee’s Rule 6 states explicitly that “the staff as a whole and each individual member of the staff shall perform all official duties in a nonpartisan manner,” no Hastings aide detailed to the panel can have any authority over its operations.
In an interview last week, Mollohan declined to comment on his discussions with Hastings, other than to say they were “ongoing” and “unfinished.”
-- May 23, 2005
• USA Today editorializes on Jack Abramoff and the detrimental effects of lobbyists pushing corporate interests in Washington. -- May 23, 2005
• Rolling Stone magazine quotes Public Citizen Legislative Counsel Craig Holman in the article, "The Hammer Falls."
Even more significant, the campaign against DeLay has provided the entire party with a pointed message that it can use as a central theme in next year's elections. "The Democrats have recognized that the ethics front can be an effective assault against Republicans in the upcoming elections," says Craig Holman of Public Citizen.
• A Bloomberg analysis reveals that tribal clients of Jack Abramoff's have contributed $1.4 million to at least 171 lawmakers between 2001 and 2004. -- May 19, 2005
• The folks at USA Today chat about congressional travel and the "everybody does it" mentality in Washington. -- May 19, 2005
• The FEC is expected to clear DeLay-led ARMPAC of accepting illegal contribution in 2001 and 2002. From the New York Times:
A leading Republican lawyer involved in election law, Jan Baran, said that the audit was "very unusual" and that such investigations usually reflected "repeated questions about the accuracy and completeness" of a political committee's disclosure statements.
"There are 4,000 political action committees," Mr. Baran said, "and there may be only about two dozen audits a year, if that many. The committees that tend to be audited are those that have chronic problems and that raise usually large amounts of money."
-- May 19, 2005
• Tom DeLay is accusing Democrats on the House ethics commitee of intentionally 'gumming up the works' for political gain, reports the Houston Chronicle.
The latest ethics committee stalemate involves its staff director, a position that must be filled before the panel can hire the investigative lawyers it needs to begin any probes.
The rules say the staff director be a nonpartisan member of the committee's professional staff and be elected by the full committee.
But Rep. Doc Hastings, the Washington Republican who chairs the panel, wants to elevate his personal chief of staff to the position.
Mollohan said the move would mean the 10-member committee, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, might lack full confidence in the independence of the staff chief.
The committee members also disagree on what to do about House travel rules. Democrats on the panel are in support of legislation offered by Rep. Meehan (D-Mass.) and Rep. Emanuel (D-Ill.). Republicans on the panel believe that travel rules are unclear and that the ethics committee should be made to clear all congressional trips beforehand. Democrats such as Rep. Meehan charge that travel rules are easy to understand:
The problem, Mollohan said, is how members behave on the trips and who winds up paying for them.
"We can't sprinkle holy water on a trip before it happens," he said. "We can't preapprove conduct. That can only be looked at after it occurs."
-- May 19, 2005
• More information on DeLay's relationship with garment industry executives from the Marianas Islands in this week's National Journal:
In late 1999, two former aides to then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, went to the Commonwealth of the Nortnern Mariana Islands on an unusual mission. Michael Scanlon, who had just finished a stint as DeLay's spokesman, and Ed Buckham, DeLay's former chief of staff, were working to help Ben Fitial win election as speaker of the island government's 18-member legislature.
During their mission to boost Fitial as speaker, Buckham and Scanlon met with two kep Marianas legislators. According to the Los Angeles Times, the former DeLay aides promised that if the two legislators backed Fitial, they would press for U.S. appropriations for the islands, including money to resurface an airport on the island of Rota.
...weeks later, in January 2000, Fitial was elected speaker. Not long after his victory, the House Appropriations Committee (whose transportation subcommittee included DeLay as a member) directed the Federal Aviation Administration to give priority in its 2001 budget to discretionary grants for several airport projects, including Rota's. FAA records show that the Rota project received grants of almost $900,000.
In a follow-up letter to Scanlon on January 13, 2000, Manglona wrote, in apparent reference to Fitial's election, "We hope that the action of our CNMI leadership would please [DeLay]. We hope we can now work together as a real good team to enhance and improve our CNMI/Federal relationship."
The Journal then details Fitial's relationship to DeLay and his office:
Fitial, a top executive in the Marianas garment industry, was well known to DeLay's office...Back in the United States in April 1997, Fitial had attended a charity fundraiser in Houston for the DeLay Foundation for Kids. A few days later, he joined a team of lobbyists for the Marianas who used DeLay's congressional office in Washington as a base while they spent hours making their pitch on Capitol Hill. Fitial was also close to Jack Abramoff, the longtime lobbyist for the islands and close DeLay ally.
The teamwork also proved beneficial to Abramoff. His contract to represent the islands had expired in late 1998, but six months after Fitial took office, the Marianas goverment awarded Abramoff a new $1.6 million contract.
-- May 18, 2005
• The Akron Beacon Journal reports that an anti-tax group is coordinating an ad campaign in support of DeLay. The ads are set to run on select television stations nationally, including in Houston. -- May 18, 2005
• Reports the Boston Globe, "A federal judge whose family was murdered asked the Senate on Wednesday to condemn harsh remarks about the judiciary by commentators such as evangelist Pat Robertson and members of Congress, saying their words could spark more violence."
During the Terri Schiavo news blitzkrieg, DeLay told the press, "This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change.The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior." -- May 18, 2005
• The Boston Globe writes that a Saudi company reportedly spent more than 1.5 million dollars in lobbying for immunity from lawsuits related to ground contamination by MTBE. DeLay made the legislation one of his top priorities in Congress. Not surprisngly, the legislation had a direct impact on DeLay's home district. Reports the Globe:
The Saudi company, SABIC, is a leading maker of MTBE. It faces loss of business and potentially heavy cleanup costs if Congress does not protect the industry from lawsuits. The company, which has a member of the Saudi royal family as its chairman, has an office in Houston and a research and technology center in Sugar Land, Texas, DeLay's hometown and political base.
-- May 16, 2005
• CREW has announced plans to file an ethics complaint against Rep. Bob Ney. "The complaint against Rep. Ney is based on his conduct with regard to the Tigua Indians of El Paso, Texas, a tribe represented by lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is known to be close to Ney," CREW director Melanie Sloan said. "The complaint is based on e-mails made public by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, sworn testimony before the Indian Affairs Committee, tax records, and Mr. Ney's campaign committee and political action committee Federal Election Commission filings." Both Ney and DeLay have engaged in questionable dealings (i.e., congressional travel, alleged trading of legislative favors) with scandal-ridden lobbyist Jack Abramoff. -- May 16, 2005
• The Chicago Tribune reports that 'cracks appear in DeLay's home district':
"I think everything here is fine," said Eric Thode, the chairman of the Ft. Bend County Republican Party. "This district is not going to be won by a Democrat."
But Beverly Carter, a Republican precinct chairwoman and publisher of the Ft. Bend Southwest Star, thinks Thode is whistling past the golf course when he pronounces himself untroubled.
"I guarantee you he is just pretending. Eric knows better than that," said Carter, who endorsed DeLay's Democratic opponent in last year's election. "Most people won't say anything bad about Tom because they are afraid of him and what might happen to them. ... But the fact that he was admonished by the ethics committee three times last year, all of that is starting to be noticed."
-- May 16, 2005
• The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz begs the question, why has it taken journalists so long to discover such 'seamy behavior in Congress'?
• The Houston Chronicle covers last night's gala dinner to DeLay. Said DeLay to a Chronicle reporter: "It certainly sends a very strong message to me that they don't want me to quit because I am under pressure. And I won't."
The Chronicle continues:
DeLay told the Chronicle that the attacks against him are "coming because people hate what we are doing."
He commented on the loud, colorful "Carnival O' Corruption" protest, complete with a ringleader and a woman with an elephant puppet on her hand and a sign that read "House 4 Sale," staged outside the hotel by the anti-President Bush group American Family Voices.
"You walk out there on the street and all you see is hate," DeLay said. "And that is really unfortunate. Hate is not an agenda."
The Washington Post also reports on last night's tribute dinner to Tom DeLay at Washington's Capitol Hilton.
-- May 12, 2005
• The Associated Press reports that about 900 people now hold tickets to tonight's tribute dinner to Tom DeLay at a Washington D.C. Hilton hotel. Roughly three dozen Republican members are expected to attend, including Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO).
"The majority leader is very encouraged and appreciative of all the support he's received from across the country, especially from leaders of the conservative movement," DeLay spokesman Dan Allen said.
Richard Lessner, executive director of the American Conservative Union, said he and other event participants believe the questions raised about DeLay amount to nothing more than "a political campaign by his enemies."
"The dinner's a sellout and it's already accomplished what it needs to accomplish: that we publicly embrace Tom DeLay and stand with him against these baseless allegations," Lessner said.
-- May 12, 2005
• The Houston Chronicle's Rick Casey looks into the history behind the Texas Ethics Commission and its refusal to provide investigators with subpoenead documents. Casey declares, "For ethics commissioners to suggest that their agency, of all agencies, is immune from criminal investigations is, itself, a brazen assault on the spirit of public ethics."
Also in today's Chronicle, two of DeLay's associates now under criminal investigation are expected to argue in court today that ethics indictments against them should be thrown out because they are based on 'unconstitutionally vague' state law and infringe on their right to free speech.
-- May 11, 2005
• House Republicans are floating a proposal in which the House Ethics Committee would pre-approve all congressional travel, as a means of avoiding future travel abuses. The proposal is supported by several Republican leaders, reports the Washington Post. -- May 11, 2005
• Some recent editorials on DeLay:
The Washington Post opines on the House ethics committee's 'good start' in restoring ethical integrity to the House.
The Albany Times-Union editorializes on DeLay's comments last week at a National Prayer Day event, in which DeLay said "Think of what we could accomplish if we checked our pride at the door, if we spent less time on our soapboxes and more time on our knees." Writes the Times-Union, "What might Dr. Johnson think? 'There is a great difference between what is said without our being urged to it, and what is said from a kind of compulsion.'"
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram urges the Texas Ethics Commission to turn over subpoenaed documents to prosecutors seeking the source of an inquiry regarding corporate campaign donations, saying that investigators are accustomed to dealing with confidential materials and will respect privacy of individuals.
The Austin American-Statesman calls for outside counsel in the House ethics committee's investigation into DeLay, citing strong precendent in the cases of former House Speakers Jim Wright and Newt Gingrich. The Statesman writes:
No judge in the country would allow a defendant to be tried by a jury whose members had given favors to or received them from the defendant.
But that is what will happen if the U.S. House ethics committee goes forward with an investigation of allegations against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land.
--May 11, 2005
• More than 800 people are expected to gather at tribute dinner for DeLay tomorrow night. This $2,000-a-table dinner isn't about money, it's about sending a message, reports the LA Times. The Times cites anoymous DeLay allies who admitted that DeLay may not survive as House Majority Leader. -- May 11, 2005
• Two members of the Texas Ethics Commission have opted to represent themselves in fighting a subpoena from prosecutors in the Texas fundraising case, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The subpoena requests the name of an individual who in 1998 requested an opinion by the Commission on restrictions surrounding corporate fundraising in Texas. The Commission asserts that this information is confidential. -- May 10, 2005
• Public Campaign Action Fund has ranked each representative's ties to Tom DeLay, states a press release posted on ArriveNet. -- May 10, 2005
• Newsday columnist Marie Cocco lambasts DeLay's history of supporting 'human bondage' in Saipan.
CNN and the Creator's Syndicate do an even better job of profiling DeLay's lack of regard for human rights in the U.S. territories of Saipan:
DeLay traveled with his family and staff over New Year's of 1997 on an Abramoff scholarship endowed by his client, the government of the territory, to the Marianas, where golf and snorkeling were enjoyed.
DeLay fully approved of the working and living conditions. The Texan's salute to the owners and Abramoff's government clients was recorded by ABC-TV News: "You are a shining light for what is happening to the Republican Party, and you represent everything that is good about what we are trying to do in America and leading the world in the free-market system"
Later, DeLay would tell The Washington Post's Juliet Eilperin that the low-wage, anti-union conditions of the Marianas constituted "a perfect petri dish of capitalism. It's like my Galapagos Island."
-- May 10, 2005
• The Washington Post chases receipts and bills from scandal-ridden lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Writes the Post:
...he charged the islands for such mundane tasks as securing tee times at the right golf courses for Washington visitors and obtaining an autographed copy of a book by then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
-- May 9, 2005
• The Albany Times-Union interviews Boss Tweed biographer Kenneth Ackerman:
Ackerman admits to a begrudging admiration for the organizational skill that Tweed brought to his treachery and for being a thoroughly likable scoundrel. As for modern-day heirs, Ackerman has seen his share in Albany and inside the Beltway.
"The way Tom DeLay stacked the House Ethics Committee and changed the rules has Tweed's fingerprints all over it," Ackerman said. "Tweed would have given DeLay a slap on the back for that one." -- May 8, 2005
• Many media/news outlets (The Economist, The New York Times) are pumping up DeLay's political staying power. The Times presents a laundry list of reasons why DeLay's "wall of support" may be difficult to knock down, reporting that many of his GOP colleagues feel 'beholden' to DeLay because of favors they've received from him.
However, the Washington Post is reporting on signs of retreat in the Delay camp. Reports the Post:
"He's withdrawn, he's tired, he looks like he's not sleeping," said a Republican aide who has worked closely with DeLay, but who agreed to share his observations only on the condition of anonymity.
Also, reports the Post:
DeLay's prowess in fundraising, for instance, was always a pillar of his power in the House. Lining up a corporate aircraft to ferry him to an event was usually arranged with a single phone call. These days, Republican officials report that they are having trouble finding available aircraft -- as businesses fret that DeLay may be radioactive.
-- May 9, 2005
• The New York Times Magazine interviews outspoken Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) who asserts that DeLay will eventually 'feel a need to step down.'
And of an ethical impropriety or two. Weren't you the first Republican to call for the resignation of Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, accused of taking free trips from lobbyists?
The problem with Tom DeLay is that he does everything to the extreme. He has consistently pushed his ethical behavior to the edge, and sometimes he goes over the edge. There will always be more stories about Tom. This is the way he conducts business. With regard to those trips, he is aware of far more than he has said publicly.
I'm not leading any charge to bring him down. I don't see that as one of my goals.
Because trying to force him out would be a full-time job. I think it is likely that he will feel a need to step down.
• The Orlando Sentinel reports on the Florida House delegation's support of DeLay, as led by Rep. Tom Feeney. Reports the Sentinel, Florida Republicans have received tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from DeLay's PACs. -- May 8, 2005-- May 8, 2005
• The swirl of controversey surrounding lobbyist Jack Abramoff continues to grow. In what appears to be a secret contract between the Guam Superior Court and Abramoff, the LA Times rerports that Abramoff used 36 checks of $9,000 each to disguise his employment by the island. -- May 6, 2005
• The LA Times investigates the Northern Mariana Islands travel story:
SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands — Two former top aides of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's brokered a political deal here five years ago that helped land island government contracts worth $1.6 million for a Washington lobbyist now the target of a federal corruption probe.
Using promises of U.S. tax dollars as bartering chips, Edwin A. Buckham and Michael Scanlon traveled to these remote Pacific islands in late 1999 to convince two local legislators to switch their votes for speaker of the territory's 18-member House of Representatives. They succeeded.
Once in office, the new speaker pressed the governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to reinstate an expired lobbying pact with Jack Abramoff, now under grand jury and congressional investigation.
Within months of the visit, Abramoff's law firm had a contract paying $100,000 a month from the Marianas government. Also, the island districts of the legislators who switched sides soon won federal budget benefits from Congress, apparently supported by DeLay.
-- May 6, 2005
• The Washington Post's Al Kamen reports that casualities are mounting due to the DeLay travel scandal fallout. Ironically, the first victims appear to be a group of moderate Republicans "DeLay didn't likely have much use for anyway." -- May 6, 2005
• DeLay misses the irony in his latest speech on 'humility' given to commemorate National Prayer Day on Thursday, reports CNN. DeLay is quoted as saying, "Just think of what we could accomplish if we checked our pride at the door. If we spent less time ducking responsibility and more time welcoming it. If we spent less time on our soapboxes and more time on our knees." -- May 6, 2005
• The Washington Post's Dana Milbank comments on the media's ruthless pursuit of all-things DeLay:
Tom DeLay sneaks around the Capitol like a fugitive these days, using back doors and basement passages to avoid television cameras. He skips meetings where reporters might get a chance to film his answers to their questions. He makes unscheduled appearances so he won't attract a media mob and disrupt colleagues' events.
-- May 5, 2005
• Congress Daily reports on a new House bill proposing an 'institutional solution' to the ethics abuses in the U.S. House. "We've had an overhaul of campaign finance laws, but our lobbying laws are 10 years old, "said Emanuel (D-Ill.). He added, "It's not an individual problem. It's an institutional problem. It needs an institutional solution."
The Meehan-Emanual bill requires lobbyists to file more frequently (quarterly as opposed to semi-annually) and establishes an electronic database for users to access records more easily. In addition, it increases the amount of time a former member or senior official must wait to register as a lobbyist--from one year to two years. Furthermore, the bill would place a $100,000 fine on nonprofits that pay for congressional travel with money from lobbyists or their firms. The bill also doubles fines to $100,000 for anyone who fails to file a lobbying report. Finally, the bill advises the GAO to study lobbying activities ever two years.
-- May 5, 2005
• The Washington Post provides a thorough exposé on frequent corporate jet travel by members of Congress. Reports the Post:
The records show that flights were provided by some of Washington's largest corporate interests, including tobacco, telecommunications, business consulting, securities, air transport, insurance, pharmaceutical, railroad and food companies. Officials at some of these firms said that they granted requests for flights in the hope of currying favorwith the leaders, that lobbyists were typically onboard their flights, and that they used the opportunity to press the interests of the aircrafts' owners. -- May 5, 2004
• Three companies have announced they are no longer contributing to DeLay's legal defense fund.The Denton-Record Chronicle reports that American Airlines, Verizon and Nissan North America Inc., have contributed $15,000 to the fund. since 2000.
"American Airlines does not intend to make any future contributions to Representative DeLay's legal defense fund," said an American Airlines spokesperson in a statement. "The $5,000 contribution, made three years ago, was done by an individual who is no longer part of American Airlines." -- May 5, 2005
• Two Republicans on the House ethics committee have recused themseves from a DeLay ethics probe, citing potential conflict of interest, reports the New York Times.
"The three of us all agree that the recusal of Mr. Cole and me would be in the past best interests of the committee," Smith said in a statement. "My past service on the committee demonstrates my ability to remain impartial toward and member and to judge a case based on its merits not partisanship...To ensure that any decision [on DeLay] is final and not subject to any question, I believe it will be in the best interests of all concerned to recuse myself in such a situation."
Reports Congress Daily:
If the Ethics committee decides to proceed with an investigation of DeLay, which is expected, Smith and Cole would be excluded entirely from the proceedings and House Speaker Hastert would appoint two proxies.
Generally, both parties retain a substitute pool of 10 members who can step onto the committee if a member has a conflict of interest with another member involved in a complaint.
The proxy members are confidential until they are tapped to serve on the committee, and Ethics Committee rules give Hastert the authority to name proxy members when necessary.
-- May 5, 2005
• The Boston Globe reports that DeLay is laughing off a Democratic proposal to strengthen lobbying restrictions and reporting requirements, "calling it a politically motivated measure that Republican leaders in Congress won't pursue."
Yesterday, Representatives Martin T. Meehan of Lowell and Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, both Democrats, unveiled a bill that would overhaul lobbying regulations by forcing more public disclosure of who finances Congress members' trips and by beefing up enforcement. They said reform is necessary because of flaws in the system revealed by recent allegations against DeLay, who has been accused of taking luxury trips funded by lobbyists and representatives of foreign governments.-- May 5, 2005
• A local Houston newspaper reports: City Councilman Kevin Cole has found himself in the middle of an internet wordfight after he sent a pro-Tom DeLay e-mail to the website www.dropthehammer.org, whose purpose is to get corporate sponsors to stop backing the embattled House Majority leader.-- May 5, 2005
• A Sacred Heart University Polling Institute poll shows that 59.5% of Americans want to DeLay to resign from his post as House Majority Leader.
Nearly half of those surveyed, 46.5%, indicated they are following the U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's ethics issues. Another 49.1% suggested either not following the issue very closely or not at all.
Among those with an opinion and following the issue closely, 59.5%, suggested that Congressman DeLay resign his leadership position. Another 40.5% said he should not give up his post.
As for resigning from the U.S. Congress, 45.3% with an opinion and following the issue closely suggested he should while 54.7% said he should not resign.
-- May 4, 2005
• Former Rep. Nick Lampson (D-Texas) plans to run against DeLay in 2006, reports the Washington Post. -- May 4, 2005
• The Washington Post provides an update on the Pacific trip taken by DeLay aides and initially paid for by scandal-ridden lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Two Democrats-- James E. Clyburn (S.C.) and Bennie Thompson (Miss.)--were also on this trip. -- May 4, 2005
• Billboards calling attention to Tom DeLay's foreign golf escapades began appearing in DeLay's home district this week, reports the Houston Chronicle. One billboard reads, "Lobbyists sent Tom DeLay golfing; all you got was this billboard." The billboards were paid for by "left-leaning group" Democracy for America. -- May 4, 2005
• CBS News and the Associated Press report that two aides to DeLay were flown to the Northern Mariana Islands in 1996 on Jack Abramoff's credit card. As discerned from correspondence between Abramoff and officials of the Mariana government, Abramoff feared investigation by the House ethics committee, and subsequently sought reimbursement from the island government. CBS reports:
Abramoff, whose lobbying is under criminal investigation, pressed his clients, the Northern Marianas government, to reimburse him for the travel because of concerns the payments might draw scrutiny from the House committee that investigates lawmakers' conduct, the documents obtained by The Associated Press show.
"I ... expect to receive a call tomorrow or Tuesday from the House ethics committee, asking for an update as to the reimbursement situation and, possibly, our outstanding bill. They are watching the trips very closely," Abramoff wrote a Marianas official in December 1996.
-- May 3, 2005
• The House ethics committee is expected to organize this week, reports Roll Call [paid subscription required]. GOP insiders have indicated that an investigation into DeLay could commence as early as this week. -- May 2, 2005
• In his column entitled, "DeLay's 'Salute': A Wave Goodbye?", the Washington Post's Mark Leibovich analyzes whether the upcoming "Salute to Tom DeLay" tribute dinner is in fact an indication that DeLay is a 'dead man walking' in Congress. Writes Leibovich, "...damaged politicians are saluted after their fate has been determined." -- May 2, 2005
• The Washington Post reports that Bush's chief of staff, Andrew Card, spoke on a Sunday morning talk show this past weekend about the administration's position on Tom DeLay: "We have not seen anything that would suggest that those allegations have any merit." -- May 2, 2005
• In what is now resembling a modern day crime thriller, the Washington Post has uncovered documents connecting embattled lobbyist Jack Abramoff and DeLay's office to shady business deals involving a self-made Floridia millionare and the Gotti crime family. Everyone should read this gripping feature story from Sunday's Post. -- May 1, 2005
• The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports on Texas district attorney Ronnie Earle's efforts to enforce the law:
Earle, a Democrat, said recently that he doesn't know whether DeLay will be indicted because the investigation is still in progress. But nearly three years into the wide-ranging inquiry, Earle acknowledges that he has "limited jurisdiction" against DeLay because any violations of election law would have to be prosecuted in DeLay's home, Fort Bend County.
Earle says the investigation is complicated and therefore lengthy.
"It's a very complex web of relationships that we are investigating and an even more complex tangle of transactions," Earle said. He also said that people who have been questioned have thrown up unnecessary procedural roadblocks.
-- May 1, 2005
• Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) has become entangled in the controversy surrounding scandal-ridden lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who's also been linked to trips taken by DeLay. Reports the Associated Press via the Akron Beacon Journal:
Thomas Mann, a congressional analyst at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said the reason DeLay's trips have gotten more attention is that he's a much more visible figure. But Ney's time for scrutiny will come, Mann said.
"Abramoff is the most egregious case of abuse by a lobbyist that I've ever encountered, and if Ney gets pulled into that net, then he's going to face trouble," Mann said.
-- April 29, 2005
• Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) was among the handful of Republicans voting against Wednesday's rule change reversal. Reports the Lufkin Daily News:
"It is unfortunate that we have to spend so much time in Washington dealing with partisan bickering and malicious allegations," Gohmert said in a press release. "Members of Congress have the right to due process, just as those same rights are granted to the most heinous criminals.
"The changes made to the Ethics Rules at the outset of the 109th Congress prevented the Ethics Committee from becoming a political tool and guaranteed fairness for members who are targeted by obstructionists determined to hold up our democratic process."
-- April 29, 2005
• Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) was one of a handful (aproximately 20) House Republicans who voted against the rule change reversal on Wednesday night, reports the Kansas City Star. A statement from Tiahrt's spokesman says simply, "[Tiahrt] believes the new rules were better than the old rules they went back to." -- April 29, 2005
• The Cincinnati Post pokes fun at DeLay in today's editorial, "Rallying Around DeLay":
DeLay has insisted all along that he's the target of a conspiracy of liberal Democratic activists. Maybe so, but this week's version of that theory was just plain nutty.
"I know some of these leftist groups would love to isolate members of Congress so that we don't talk to Americans," he said. If it's Americans he wanted to talk to, London, South Korea, Moscow and Scottish golf courses were funny places to go looking for them.
-- April 29, 2005
• A slew of papers have editorialized on yesterdays reversal of House ethics committee procedural rules changes. Some highlights:
– The Washington Post writes, "The ethics committee historically has done not too much but too little. Rules that let complaints disappear through impasse and inaction would result in the opposite of the robust ethics enforcement that the House needs."
– The Houston Chronicle writes, "If a camel is an animal designed by a committee, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct resembles a panel designed by camels. Every care has been taken to make sure it does not function effectively and fairly, without fear or favor."
– The Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes, "Congress may be the only place where returning to business as usual would be considered an ethical triumph."
– The Fort Wayne Star-Telegram writes,
What a shame that some newspapers are characterizing the House Republicans' change of heart this week on ethics rules as a "defeat" for the party.
But what can one expect from that darned liberal media?
We like to think that GOP lawmakers recognized the need to place the greater good of the nation and a fully functioning Congress ahead of partisan politics when they reversed a January decision to alter policies for the House Committee on Standards for Official Conduct.
-- April 29, 2005
• The Detroit Free Press editorializes on the resurrection of the House ethics committee:
...more must be done to ensure public confidence in the panel already tainted after the chairman and two committee members were dumped last year so they could be replaced by DeLay supporters.
Democracy 21's call for an outside counsel to assist in the upcoming investigation is a good place to start. The nonpartisan group sent a written request to Ethics Committee Chairman Doc Hastings of Washington and Rep. Alan Mollohan, the ranking Democrat from West Virginia. They should bury any leftover resentment and allow outside assistance.
-- April 29, 2005
• The Dallas Morning News profiles contributors to DeLay's Legal Expense Trust.
• The New York Times reports that Republican lawmakers who received money from DeLay's PAC have also contributed to DeLay's legal defense fund. While not against the law, the Times speculates that it could have been a method for skirting official limits on individual contributions to the fund. "I think the House ethics committee would frown on the practice," said one Republican elections lawyer. -- April 28, 2005
• Raw Story provides Republican talking points for the recent rule change reversal. -- April 28, 2005
• Experts tell the Washington Post that DeLay is likely to be found 'culpable.' The Post's Jeffrey Birnbaum writes, "Now that it's clear that his controversial private-paid trips abroad will be put under a microscope in Congress, Tom DeLay is in serious danger of being declared in violation of House ethics rules, legal experts say."
Also in today's Post, columnist Howard Kurtz looks at what the media and blogosphere are reporting on the recent rules reversal and DeLay's incoming investigation by the House ethics committee.
-- April 28, 2005
• It's a banner day for the Congressional Ethics Coalition, which has sought a reversal to rule changes for the House ethics committee. Some major papers front this morning with news of last night's vote on the House floor:
– New York Times, "House Overturns New Ethics Rule as Republican Leadership Yields."
– USA Today, "GOP sets stage for inquiry on DeLay: ‘Step back' on rules ends House impasse."
-- April 28, 2005
• The New York Times reports that the Republican leadership of the House is willing to reverse ethics rules changes, pushed through on a party line vote earlier this year. "'I am willing to step back,' Mr. Hastert told reporters after a closed-door meeting with House Republicans. 'I think we need to move forward with the ethics process.'"
While not mentioning him by name, Hastert made it plain that the rules would be reversed so that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay would be able to "clear his name." What is not clear is whether the Democrats will accept the Republican offer - or how the ethics committee can perform an unbiased investigation of DeLay when two of its Republican members have given money to DeLay's legal defense fund, and all five of them have received money from DeLay.
"Republicans have asserted that the changes, drafted by the speaker's office and pushed through by the Republicans in January, were designed to better protect the rights of lawmakers. But their counterparts quickly complained that they were instituted after the House ethics committee admonished Mr. DeLay three times last year. 'We fumbled the ball badly,' said one senior Republican official who spoke anonymously because he did not want to be viewed as critical of the leadership.
Under the new rules, complaints could be dismissed after 45 days if the panel did not agree on how to proceed, a change critics said would give lawmakers an incentive to delay complaints until they were dropped. Another rule allows the same lawyer to represent both the subject of a complaint and witnesses and a third would give new notification and appeal rights to lawmakers who are to be named in a panel report.
Some Republicans acknowledge that the way the rules were changed with no Democratic involvement has left the party vulnerable to accusations that it was seeking to hamstring the panel after it admonished Mr. DeLay three times last year." -- April 27, 2005
• Media Matters points out inaccurate reporting by MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Fox News' Brit Hume on the scandal surround Tom DeLay and other member's of Congress. -- originally posted April 21, 2005
• The New York Times reports today that Tom DeLay got a significant public endorsement from President Bush on Monday - as well as a ride back to Washington via Presidential limousine and Air Force One.
"Asked by reporters after landing at Andrews Air Force Base what Mr. Bush's show of support meant to him, Mr. DeLay said: 'The strong show of support from the people of Houston, as well as the president, we feel very humbled by the fact of that kind of support - also that it's coming from our members and from people who believe in what we're doing. The president was very gracious, and I've always appreciated his support, not just in this situation. We've known each other for 30 years, so we go back a long way.'
Asked before the president's appearance how strongly Mr. Bush supported Mr. DeLay in the light of reports that the lobbyist paid for the majority leader's plane tickets for a foreign junket, Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, said, 'As strongly as he ever has, which is strongly.'" -- April 26, 2005
• The Associated Press reported that "Majority Leader Tom DeLay continued raising money for his legal defense fund early this year, but the flow of money slowed significantly compared with last year, according to reports DeLay filed Monday." -- April 25, 2005
For complete analysis of DeLay's legal defense fund filings, please see Public Citizen's April 26 Update on the DeThrone DeLay homepage.
• An article in the Washington Post gives the first definitive evidence that DeLay was having his travel paid for in some circumstances by lobbyists (a violation of House ethics rules), that one of the lobbyists in question was the infamous Jack Abramoff (under federal investigation for allegedly swindling millions from Indian tribes), and that DeLay knew about it when it was happening.
"The airfare to London and Scotland in 2000 for then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was charged to an American Express card issued to Jack Abramoff, a Washington lobbyist at the center of a federal criminal and tax probe, according to two sources who know Abramoff's credit card account number and to a copy of a travel invoice displaying that number." -- April 24, 2005
• Congress Daily reports that ethical questions surrounding DeLay have surfaced as a campaign issue in an Illinois GOP primary race for the U.S. House. Congress Daily reports:
GOP state Sen. Peter Roskam, a former aide to DeLay, said he supports the majority leader. However, another GOP candidate, DuPage County Recorder of Deeds J.P. (Rick) Carney said it was time for DeLay to step aside.
"What I read in the paper, whether it's correct or not, just seems to be an embarrassment for the Republican Party," said Carney. "To stay in his leadership position seems arrogant to me." Roskam, who worked as an aide to DeLay in the mid-1980s, but said he has "not had any contact with him essentially" for 20 years, dismissed the allegations. "Trotting out some of ... these old accusations that are two and three and four years old is a little bit tiresome," Roskam said. "I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt."
-- April 22, 2005
•The Wall Street Journal [paid subscription required] notes that House Speaker Dennis Hastert is now indicating he's open to the idea of repealing the controversial changes made to the House ethics rules. "I do not rule it out," he said. -- April 22, 2005
• The Boston Globe editorializes on Republican reluctance to repeal their outrageous rule changes to the House ethics committee. The paper continues:
GOP members of the House Ethics Committee made a feeble effort to claim the high ground on Tuesday by saying they are willing to look at charges against DeLay. But this was only a bargaining position; they said they would mount a probe of DeLay only if Democrats agreed to new rules for the House Ethics Committee that would allow either party to block any future investigations. In the past either party could initiate a probe.
-- April 22, 2005
• Slate.com looks at a handful of GOP members poised to replace Tom DeLay as House Majority Leader. -- April 22, 2005
• In a May 6th issue, the American Prospect's executive editor Michael Tomasky, writes of the disturbing longevity of DeLay's career, despite a history of ethics abuses: "Most of Washington, including crucial constituencies like the mainstream media and moderate Republicans, hasn’t been willing to come to grips with how profoundly corrupt and un-American Tom DeLay is."
• The New York Times reports that DeLay's charitable foundation, the DeLay Foundation for Kids, has uncovered a list of coproate donors that includes AT&T, the Corrections Corporation of America, Exxon Mobil, Limited Brands and the Southern Company, as well as Bill and Melinda Gates, the Microsoft founder and his wife, and Michael Dell of Dell computers. The charity has thus far refused to reveal its underwriters. -- April 21, 2005
• Congress Daily reports that DeLay has raised ten times more money this quarter than this same quarter last year. Congress Daily writes, "Thought his suburban Houston district seems unlikely to elect a Democrat, DeLay will have to spend money to counter what will likely be a critical mass of negative ads against him, both from his eventual opponent and third parties." -- April 21, 2005
• Under mounting pressure to resolve the ethical crisis surrounding DeLay, GOP members today announced they are ready to commence an investigation into the ethical questions raised about DeLay's activities, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The leading minority member on the panel, Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), has not yet issued a response. -- April 20, 2005
• The scandal thickens. The Associated Press via Guardian International reports that DeLay has been linked to embattled lobbyist Jack Abramoff in yet another instance. This time, DeLay rewarded political donors by treating them "to a bird's-eye view of a Three Tenors concert from an arena skybox" which was leased out by Abramoff.
The reports continues:
DeLay's political action committee did not reimburse lobbyist Jack Abramoff for the May 2000 use of the skybox, instead treating it as a type of donation that didn't have to be disclosed to election regulators at the time.
The skybox donation, valued at thousands of dollars, came three weeks before DeLay also accepted a trip to Europe - including golf with Abramoff at the world-famous St. Andrews course - for himself, his wife and aides that was underwritten by some of the lobbyist's clients.
-- April 20, 2005
• DeLay continues his verbal assualt on the federal judiciary. Reports the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON - House Majority Leader Tom DeLay says Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's work from the bench has been "incredibly outrageous," his latest salvo at the federal judiciary in the weeks following the courts' refusal to stop Terri Schiavo's death.
-- April 20, 2005
• The American Prospect offers a web exclusive by blogger Mathew Yglesias on the GOP's struggle to defend DeLay. -- April 20, 2005
According to a transcript of the interview released by Fox News Radio, DeLay was asked how the recent scrutiny has affected him?
"Well, it certainly has gotten me closer to God," DeLay said. "You don't like seeing this and it hurts your family. It hurts your staff.... But, you know, we're not going to take it. We're fighting back."
--April 20, 2005
• Roll Call reports on prospective candidates to run against DeLay in 2006 his home district. "DeLay is incredibly vulnerable and one of our top targets," said DCCC spokeswoman Sarah Feinberg.
The Republicans spin it a different way:
"Right now there are two losers trying to run," said National Republican Congressional Committee Communications Director Carl Forti, referring to Morrison and Lampson. "Realistically Democrats have no chance of picking up this district."
-- April 19, 2005
• The Washington Post reports:
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), in his first detailed written response after weeks of questions about his dealings with lobbyists and handling of ethics matters, issued a broad denial that he violated any law or House rule in accepting trips abroad, and he implored supporters back home to accept his version of what he called "the real story."
...In a message e-mailed to supporters in his suburban Houston district that was provided to The Washington Post yesterday, DeLay blamed the reports on Democrats, liberal groups and the "legion of Democrat-friendly press" who were trying to undermine Republican control of Congress. "It is abundantly clear that their fundamental strategy revolves around attacking me and working to tear down Republican leadership," he said.
Think Progress.org has the complete text of DeLay's denial email.
-- April 19, 2005
• Rep. George Miller (D-GA) has called for an investigation into lobbyist Jack Abramoff's dealings with the Mariana Islands, reports The Hill. In recent months, allegations have surfaced of improper behavior, including overpayment of lobbying fees, interference in local elections and illegal payment for congressional trips to the Islands. In December 1997, Abramoff arranged for DeLay to visit the Mariana Islands. The trip has recently come under scrutiny for appearing to be paid for illegally. -- April 18, 2005
• Tom DeLay's attorney writes in a letter to the Washington Post, that DeLay followed the rules regarding congressional trips abroad. What he does not address is whether those rules are sufficient in capturing ethically unsound actvities. -- April 17, 2005
• Lobbying expert Jeffrey Birnbaum writes, "Anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the system for disclosure [of federal lobbying activities] knows that it doesn't work." Case in point: Tom DeLay and his trips paid by lobbyists and foreign interests. -- April 18, 2005
• The New York Times provides an update on the standoff over the House ethics committee. -- April 18, 2005
• Washington Post columnist Terry Neal compares recent accusations by Tom DeLay that he is the target of a 'liberal conspiracy' to the downfall of Democratic House Speaker Jim Wright in the 1980s. At that time, government watchdog group Common Cause had filed a complaint against Wright, and was subsequently accused of becoming a "handmaiden of partisan politics." -- April 18, 2005
• The New York Times editorializes: "Mr. DeLay's ethical and financial lapses are serious and disqualifying for his high office. But even more alarming than his love for political money is his abuse of power. He appears to be confused about the difference between a legislative majority won in an election and total control held indefinitely." -- April 17, 2005
• DeLay addressed members of the NRA this weekend, reports the Washington Post.
• House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) contends that DeLay won't quit his post as Majority Leader, reports the Houston Chronicle. "Tom DeLay is not going to run away from a fight," Blunt told NBC's Meet the Press. -- April 17, 2005
• In today's Congress Daily, DeLay is reported to have conceded that Minority Whip Hoyer is correct in charging that the changes made to the House ethics committee were not adopted in a bipartisan manner. However, continued Delay, "The speaker of the House looked at the last few years and decided that the rules allowed the use fo the Ethics Committee for partisan purposes and its ability to act in a bipartisan way was seriously hindered." -- April 15, 2005
• National Journal polled 54 Republican insiders and 53 Democratic insiders on whether they think the media coverage on Tom DeLay has been fair or unfair. 20 Republicans said it's been "fair."
Says one GOP member, "He understands the game of politics; he works close to the line and now has to answer for it."
Another GOP insider said, "While Republicans might want to cry foul because DeLay is one of our own, the national media do not often discriminate when it comes to taking down the powerful and mighty--just ask the former House speaker from Texas, Mr. [James] Wright."
And finally, one GOP polled commented, "As fair as they ever are to a leader who plays brinksmanship with the rules."
Not surprisingly, 47 Democratic insiders felt media coverage of DeLay has been "fair."
For more quotes, pick up a copy of the April 16, 2005 issue of National Journal.
-- April 15, 2005
• In an off-camera interview with CNN, Speaker Dennis Hastert alleged that Democrats are blocking the House ethics committee from 'formally organizing' because they fear DeLay will be cleared of charges lodged against him. Reports CNN: "Mr. DeLay does, right. Until it's proven he's actually done something that's broken the rules and discredited himself and this Congress," the Illinois Republican said as he walked from the House floor to his office. -- April 15, 2005
• President Bush appears 'unlikely' to press for DeLay to step down, reports the New York Times. The Times continues:
But Republicans say that, for now, Mr. Bush's political need for his fellow Texas Republican transcends his personal distaste and the growing questions about Mr. DeLay's ethical conduct. For that reason, they say Mr. Bush and Karl Rove, the president's chief political strategist, are unlikely to try to jettison Mr. DeLay in the same way that they deposed Trent Lott as Senate Republican leader for racially charged comments Mr. Lott made in 2002.
-- April 15, 2005
• Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne begins today's column, "Being Tom DeLay means never having to say you're sorry." Dionne continues by arguing that DeLay's apology over his "inartful" attack on federal judges indicates that his Republican colleagues are growing weary of their leader. Dionne concludes, "it will take a miracle for DeLay to survive." -- April 15, 2005
• 10 former GOP lawmakers have joined in sending a letter to House Speaker Rep. Dennis Hastert, asserting that changing House ethics rules was an "'obvious action to protect Majority Leader Tom DeLay' from investigation. They said the changes needed to be reversed 'to restore public confidence in the People's House,'" reports The New York Times. -- April 15, 2005
• Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) admits "widespread nervousness" among the Republican conference regarding their leader, Tom DeLay. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports: “Part is political,” [Souder] said of the allegations against Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, that have dogged the House majority leader for a year. “But the truth is, we’re all reading this stuff and saying: ‘Why did you do that? Did you cross the line? Did your staff cross the line?’ We don’t know.” -- April 14, 2005
• Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) has stepped out in front to defend her embattled colleague, Tom DeLay: "The Majority Leader is the target of an unfair media feeding frenzy. He deserves to have people actually listen to what he has to say." It should be noted that DeLay recently announced that he will no longer be speaking to the press on matters related to ethics. More from the Denton Record Chronicle. -- April 14, 2005
• In an interview with the Washington Times, DeLay boldly declares:"On the redesigning government part, it's been my own personal project to redesign government. We have a whole effort that started two years ago called the 21st Century Careers Initiative, which is an effort to use regulatory reform as redesigning government, and we will even get more aggressive in this part of our agenda this year and next."
Later on in the interview:
DeLay: ...I know some may have opposed what we did in Medicare. I'm very proud of what we did in Medicare.
DeLay: Because if we didn't do anything, it would break this country. What we did, we instituted - not in a pretty way - but we instituted our philosophy and our values, bringing in competition, trying to eliminate third-party payments, bringing in co-payments ... now they are instituted. And they are part of the Medicare program.
And later, in what appears to directly contradict DeLay's recent announcement that he will no longer speak to the press about ethics-related issues:
Mr. Hallow: Let me ask you about why Sen. Santorum told you to come clean.
Mr. DeLay: Santorum answered it properly.
Mr. Hallow: He did?
Mr. DeLay: Absolutely. I appreciate what he said. Everything he said. There is nothing wrong with what he said. He did not attack me, nor did he remove himself from me.
Mr. Dinan: But he did encourage you to come forward.
Mr. DeLay: I have been coming forward, and he did it in the context of the way to fight this is to come forward, which is exactly what I have been doing. In fact, I am putting together the entire case and everything that we have, and I'm going to give it to the ethics committee and ask them to look at it.
And the best for last:
Mr. Hurt: Have you ever crossed the line of ethical behavior in terms of dealing with lobbyists, your use of government authority or with fundraising?
Mr. DeLay: Ever is a very strong word...
To read the full transcript, go here.
--April 14, 2005
• DeLay apologized yesterday for what he called "inartful" comments on federal judges made during the Terri Schiavo controversy, reports the LA Times. His backpeddling was in response to the uproar caused by remarks in which DeLay "said the time would come for judges 'to answer for their behavior' in the Terri Schiavo case. Some Democrats accused him of inciting violence against judges." -- April 14, 2005
– The New York Times characterizes DeLay's statements somewhat differently, headlining with "DeLay Defends Effort to Rein In the Courts." The Times reports, DeLay insisted "that he would continue his crusade against what he views an activist judiciary by ordering the Judiciary Committee to investigate the decisions of federal judges in the Terri Schiavo case."
• BNA Money & Politics reports that Tom DeLay has announced he will no longer speak to reporters on matters relating to his ethics scandals. Reports BNA:
"I know that the Left and the Democrats and some in the media would rather have me addressing [ethics issues], but I will not do that here in the pen and pads[briefings]," DeLay told reporters. "If you have any questions outside of the scope of the House floor agenda or other legislative issues we're addressing in the House, then I would direct them to my press staff." He said this was not a policy change. However, he has answered dozens of questions about the ethics allegations in recent weeks during his weekly press briefings.
-- April 14, 2005
• Congress Daily PM reports: "When I go back to my congressional district, the question [from] a lot of people is the price of gas ... whereas you come here and it's 'Tom Delay, Tom DeLay.' And I go back to my district and they don't know who Tom Delay is," Weldon said.
• Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) held a press conference today on GOP reactions to repeated 'unethical behavior' by their leader, Tom DeLay, and by continued efforts to neuter the ethics committee in the U.S. House.
Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), House Minority Whip, speaks on the House and Senate 'spiraling into unethical conduct.'
To watch it streaming via C-span, click here and click on top link entitled "Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), & Dem. Leaders"-- April 13, 2005
• In an effort to deflect criticism of DeLay, the Majority Leader's office has assembled a "formal structure" that involves regular conference calls and the convening of meetings as stories break, reports The Hill. -- April 13, 2005
• From CBS news.com: In an exclusive interview with CBS News Correspondent Gloria Borger, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said it's time for DeLay to stop blaming a left-wing conspiracy for his ethics controversy and to lay out his case for the American people to judge.
-- April 13, 2005
• In an op-ed appearing in today's Washington Post, former House ethics committee chairman Rep. Joel Hefley (R-CO) and ranking member Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) urge their colleagues to support overturning recent changes made by the GOP to the rules and procedure of the House ethics committee, asserting that :
There should be no misunderstanding of what is at stake here, for members and for the House as an institution. In the days and weeks to come, all members will need to decide whether they wish to continue to have a credible, effective ethics process, and to then consider the actions and conditions necessary for such a process to exist. We believe that an essential first step is to repeal the rules changes made at the start of this Congress.
-- April 13, 2005
• The Washington Post reports that DeLay has put a link to the Constitution on his website for kids to learn about democracy. If kids wish to explore further, they're encouraged to explore "Great Documents of Freedom." The Post reports:
Here they find, first, the Magna Carta in 1215, with a nice overview of its place in the road to democracy. Next, the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and, of course, the Bill of Rights in 1791.
But then there's a bit of a dry patch for a couple of hundred years until -- what else? -- the "Contract With America" in September 1994.
This ranks right up there with the Bill of Rights, DeLay's account says, because it "presented clearly defined positions on issues of concern" to people, not piddly stuff. Moreover, it "was a written commitment," so "the people could read The Contract with America and embrace the agenda presented in the document."
(In contrast to the Bill of Rights or the Declaration of Independence, the Contract is always to be italicized to show its importance -- though boldface, underlining or using all capitals probably would do.) "The resulting vote [in November 1994] re-established the people's control of Congress," our primer tells us, after "the people" lost control, apparently in 1954, to evildoers, taxers, Homo sapiens and such.
-- April 13, 2005
• In the context of recent criticism made by DeLay and company on a 'judiciary run amok,' Justice Kennedy said in a House committee hearing yesterday that attacking the independence of the the federal judiciary while the rest of the world reaches for it, "would be a tragedy," reports NY Lawyer. -- April 13, 2005
• A Houston NBC news affiliate reports that DeLay is 'urging GOP senators to blame Democrats' when asked about ethics in Congress. Furthermore, DeLay asked that senators tell the press that Democrats 'have no agenda other than partisanship,' and that they are attacking him to block Republicans from focusing on their legislative agenda.
In further display of DeLay's hubris, DeLay claimed that he was the target of a 'mammoth operation' funded by Democratic organizations and "designed to destroy him as a symbol of the Republican majority."
The Washington Post reports that DeLay held a meeting for fellow Republicans in which his main message was, "Be patient, we'll be fine."
-- April 13, 2005
• Not surprisingly, scandal-ridden lobbyist Jack Abramoff denies a Newsweek report detailing a conversation between he and a colleague in which Abramoff says "DeLay knew everything. He knew all the details," reports Forward. -- April 13, 2005
• Roll Call's Norm Ornstein [paid subscription required] writes:
Today, when the ethics committee meets, it should adopt the proposal made by ranking member Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) to erase the rules changes. If there is to be any ethics committee, and any ethics process at all, that is a prerequisite. The Democrats are absolutely right in their resolve to keep the committee from organizing until there are reasonable rules in place.
Frankly, I hope we can go further, beginning an effort to revamp the ethics process more broadly. It is clearly time to have an outside panel of former Members and staffers who can act as the screening group, taking in all complaints and allegations and deciding which should trigger a full investigation by the Congressional panel. Unless that happens, the ethics process in the House will continue to be a laughingstock.
-- April 13, 2005
• Today's Congress Daily PM reports that Democrats have begun pressuring Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.) to speak out against DeLay and return money donated to his campaign by DeLay. Reports CD:
Simmons said he is "ready to make tough choices" about DeLay if they are warranted. "[W]e still have due process in this country. So, until the House Ethics Committee decides against him, or he admits wrongdoing, I will not call for Tom DeLay's resignation solely on partisan or personal grounds," Simmons said.
-- April 12, 2005
• The DCCC blog cites an article in today's CQ, in which Republican Senator Lincoln Chaffee (R-R.I.) said Monday "We've got to uphold the highest standards of legality and ethics. You can't have your leader under a cloud. It makes it difficult to run."
-- April 12, 2005
• USA Today reports:
Fundraisers for a political committee founded by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay routinely solicited donations by identifying legislative actions that prospective givers wanted, from video gambling to lawsuit limits, memos show.
"What companies that you know of would be interested in tort reform in Texas with asbestos problems that might support TRMPAC?" one DeLay fundraiser wrote in a memo prospecting for donors to the Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee (TRMPAC).
-- April 12, 2005
• The House Ethics Committee's ranking member, Rep. Alan Mollohan, is remaining steadfast in his determination to turn back three ethics rules changes, reports Roll Call [paid subscription required]. The ethics committee plans to meet this Wednesday, though no breakthroughs are expected. The committee has not taken any actions this session. Rep. Mollohan and fellow Democrats are offeringing a motion during Wednesday's meeting that "urges GOP and Democratic leaders to get personally involved in resolving the ethics dispute, possibly by appointing a bipartisan task force to look at January's rule changes, reports Roll Call. -- April 12, 2005
• Congress Daily PM quotes a staffer from Rep. Steny Hoyer's office on efforts by Republicans to leak ethical lapses by Democrats:
"This is a predictable and pathetic attempt by Republicans to distract from their serious ethical challenges and their dismantling of the ethics process," the Hoyer spokeswoman said. "The fact of the matter is that there was an oversight. In no way, shape, or form can you equate it with what Republicans are trying to do," added a Democratic leadership aide. "It's like equating jaywalking with manslaughter."
-- April 11, 2005
• Newsweek reports on a conversation between embattled former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and an unknown former colleague. Newsweek reports: "Those S.O.B.s," Abramoff said last week about DeLay and his staffers, according to his luncheon companion. "DeLay knew everything. He knew all the details."-- April 11, 2005
• Roll Call's [paid subscription required] Stuart Rothenberg talks to Republican strategists on the DeLay-effect: “We’ve always laughed at the idea that [Democrats] could make him an issue nationally,” one GOP strategist commented. “They’ve tried before and failed. But we aren’t laughing anymore. There is some increased chatter, worrying and concern” about the possible fallout from the attacks.
• Sunday's political talk shows provided an opportunity for prominent Republicans to speak about DeLay. The Washington Post reports that Senator Rick Santorum called on DeLay to "lay out what he did and why he did it."
• The New York Times reports on scandal-ridden lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his relationship with DeLay.
-- April 11, 2005
• Sunday's Washington Post reports on a new campaign by Republicans to protect their House Majority Leader. The Post also reports leaders have announced they are holding a tribute dinner for DeLay on May 12 at Washington D.C.'s Capital Hilton. At the dinner, they will be screening a film of a "summation of what Tom has done for conservatives." -- April 10, 2005
• Slate.com offers a humourous ranking of DeLay's more notorious scandals according to so-called "stench" and "trouble." -- April 8, 2005
• In a videotaped speech to an ultra-conservative group called the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration, DeLay 'escalated' talk surrounding congressional intervention in the federal judiciary, stating that judges have "run amok," and demanding that members of Congress "reassert our constitutional authority over the courts," reports the New York Times. -- April 8, 2005
• GOP members are 'rallying in support' of their leader, reports the Washington Post. Majority Whip Roy Blunt recently defended DeLay at a news conference, "I don't see any wavering of support for the leader. I think a lot of members think he's taking arrows for all of us." -- April 7, 2005
• The Tuscon Citizen (AZ) reports that the so-called 'religious right' plans to descend on Washington DC this week in an effort to "reign in the judiciary," having previously expected Tom DeLay to serve as keynote speaker. DeLay canceled his appearence after arranging to travel to Rome for the Pope John Paul II's funeral. -- April 7, 2005
• DeLay will be appearing as the keynote speaker at the National Rifle Association (NRA) conference in Houston next week (April 15th). The NRA defends DeLay, calling him a "resolute believer of American freedoms and values," and said he will "talk about important political issues and challenges facing hunters and gun owners across the country," reports CNSnews.com. -- April 7, 2005
• Contributions have slowed to DeLay's Legal Defense Fund, according to a report by the Dallas Morning News. -- April 7, 2005
• NPR's All Things Considered reports on how DeLay has fallen out of favor with his constituents and how Republicans are distancing themselves following DeLay's radioactive intervention into the Schaivo case. -- April 7, 2005
• It appears that Tom DeLay's wife and daughter have been paid more than $500,000 by DeLay-run political action committees and campaigns, reports the New York Times. -- April 6, 2005
• Bloomberg News profiles the former DeLay aides who have traveled through the revolving door outside of Tom DeLay's office in Congress. Bloomberg reports, "Many of the more than 200 companies, coalitions and trade groups that have hired former DeLay employees as lobbyists since he became House Republican leader in January 2003 have gained from those ties as he championed their causes." -- April 6, 2005
• Yet another trip taken by DeLay has come under scrutiny as it appears to have been paid for by business interests lobbying for the Russian government, reports the Washington Post. -- April 6, 2005
• Beltway newspaper Roll Call [paid subscription required] reports on Rep. Cantor (WV) relationship to DeLay and his role as one of DeLay's most vocal defenders. -- April 5, 2005
• The Fort Bend Sun (TX) provides coverage of DeLay's speeches during his visit to his Sugarland. Some nuggets from the mouth of Tom DeLay:
"The Constitution gives us (Congress) the responsibility to create courts. If we can create them, we can uncreate them," he said.
There is a concerted, publicly announced strategy. It is not about me, but what I stand for and I have accomplished. I just happen to be the focus. It is a huge fight. George Soros is behind this and millions of dollars have been raised. But, they have a problem. They can't find anything that I have done wrong," De Lay said.
-- April 5, 2005
• Public support of DeLay is waning in his home district of Sugarland, Texas, reports the Houston Chronicle. The Chronicle's poll found that nearly 40 percent of 501 likely voters in his district said their opinion of DeLay is less favorable than last year, compared with 11 percent who said their view of him has improved. -- April 4, 2005
• Media watchdog group Media Matters details the inconsistent coverage of the ethical scandals surrounding DeLay. -- April 4, 2005
• The Houston Chronicle's Clay Robinson blasts DeLay's recent intervention into the Terri Schaivo case, writing: Although Tom DeLay portrays a believable Third World dictator, it is time that he stopped trying to transform the United States into his own ideological fiefdom. -- April 2, 2005
• Reports the Dallas Morning News, DeLay has 'taken refuge' from the controversy surrounding allegedly unethical behavior in his home state of Texas. Asked about his political sustainability, DeLay proclaimed "My constituents are very supportive. They know what's going on with the liberal media and with the leftist organizations and with the Democrat party." It should be noted that DeLay routinely criticizes opponents for engaging in what could be construed as partisan attacks and inflammatory rhetoric. -- March 31, 2005
• MSNBC commentator Howard Finneman observes the buzzards circling above Tom DeLay's political career. -- March 31, 2005
• More information has come to light concerning lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his lobbying activities for his client, the Northern Mariana Islands. The New York Times reports that several trips paid for by the islands have raised eyebrows in Washington; in 1997 DeLay traveled to the Mariana Islands on a trip organized by Abramoff and paid for by the island government and the Saipan Garment Manufacturer's Association.
Reports the New York Times, "DeLay told the Houston Chronicle at the time that he saw nothing wrong with accepting the trip and that he viewed the Saipan garment industry as an example of 'free-market success' because it didn't have to follow most U.S. labor laws, exemptions he said he would fight to maintain."
The Times also offers this report on new television ads by so-called 'liberal' groups aimed at making public the ethical missteps by DeLay.
-- March 30, 2005
• In response to a glaring oversight by Hill reporters last week, Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21 breaks down Republican "talking points" that were previously reported verbatum by the paper. -- March 30, 2005
• Nearly two dozen Republican organizations are launching a coordinated campaign to defend their embattled leader giant, Tom DeLay, reports The Hill. The organizations working to protect DeLay include the American Conservative Union, the Family Research Council, the Leadership Institute and the Heritage Foundation. DeLay allegedly solicited Republican organizations to call their members in support of DeLay. One anonymous participant, reports The Hill, "raised questions about the propriety of tax-exempt groups waging a political campaign on behalf of a lawmaker." -- March 30, 2005
• The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz discusses the significance of the Wall Street Journal's recent publishing of an anti-DeLay op-ed. -- March 29, 2005
• From Slate.com's William Saletan:
On March 18, [DeLay] charged, "Senators Boxer, Wyden, and Levin have put Mrs. Schiavo's life at risk to prove a point—an unprecedented profile in cowardice." A day later, he said of Schiavo's husband, "I don't have a whole lot of respect for a man that has treated this woman in this way. … My question is: What kind of man is he?"
Why the difference between then and now? Maybe because DeLay saw his father as a human being. He speaks of Schiavo as something more—and less. "It's more than just Terri Schiavo," DeLay told the Family Research Council on March 18. "It is a critical issue for people in this position, and it is also a critical issue to fight the fight for life, whether it be euthanasia or abortion. And I tell you, ladies and gentlemen, one thing that God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo, to elevate the visibility of what's going on in America."
-- March 29, 2005
• Newsday mourns the neutering of the House ethics committe, pointing out that the "ethics committee has become the place where valid ethics complaints go to die." -- March 29, 2005
• An LA Times report has strengthened accusations that DeLay's recent involvement in the Terri Schaivo case is strictly politics--having uncovered that DeLay himself opted to allow his father to die peacefully after a freak accident rendered him ""basically be a vegetable." -- March 27, 2005
• New York Times columnist Frank Rich takes politicians to task in Sunday's column, "The God Racket, From DeMille to DeLay." -- March 27, 2005
• Businesses have seen significant gains since Republicans took control of both Congress and the White House, reports the Washington Post. -- March 27, 2005
• The Salt Lake Tribune powerfully declares in today's editorial that the "ethically-challenged leader [of the U.S. House] shouldn't hide behind God." -- March 24, 2005
• The New York Times editorializes on the 'impotence' of the House Ethics Committee and their egregious request for more funding at a time when their panel commands no authority. The Times also comments on the lockstep march of House Republicans, who have followed ethically-challenged leader "too far." The Times writes, "Any new money for the ethics panel will be wasted unless Republican members, wary of being yoked to Mr. DeLay, demand that the rules be stiffened to gain some ethical credibility in the House." -- March 24, 2005
• The Associated Press reports on DeLay's use of 'offensive' tactics in defending his ethical missteps. The AP reports:
Charles Tiefer, a former congressional lawyer and now a University of Baltimore law professor, said DeLay has been far more aggressive than former House Speakers Newt Gingrich and Jim Wright, who never attempted to reshape the ethics process when they were engulfed in controversy.
DeLay has "already succeeded in using his political strength to protect himself" by changing the ethics rules and replacing committee members, Tiefer said. Efforts to portray Delay as a political victim aim "to undermine the case against him in the press, because that's how he maintains his party's support," Tiefer added.
-- March 24, 2005
• The New Haven Advocate profiles Connecticut GOP members (Simmons, Johnson and most notably, Shays) who have voiced opposition to the leadership of Tom DeLay and House Republican efforts to eviscerate the House Ethics Committee. -- March 24, 2005
• The Charleston Gazette (WV) chronicles the ethical missteps of Tom DeLay in today's editorial page. -- March 24, 2005
• Time.com provides an exclusive transcript of a speech given by DeLay at a gathering of the Family Research Council at the Willard Hotel in Washington. During his speech, DeLay proclaimed, "One thing that God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo, to help elevate the visibility of what is going on in America. This is exactly the issue that is going on in America, of attacks against the conservative movement, against me and against many others."
DeLay closes the speech with this nugget of wisdom: "We can do anything we need to do to pass any bill that we need to pass." -- March 23, 2005
• The Washington Post's Harold Meyerson criticizes DeLay and other Republicans' for their involvement and exploitation of the Terri Schaivo case. -- March 23, 2005
• ABC News analyzes Tom DeLay's position in the House, declaring that DeLay is not in a spot 'similar to what Gingrich faced' back in the late 1990s. -- March 22, 2005
• The New York Times reports on DeLay's exploitation of the Terri Schiavo case:
Mr. DeLay is clearly relishing the change in subject from House travel rules and lobbying ties to a conservative crusade, even appearing on television to make the case for Congressional involvement after ducking cameras most of the week. And his dedication is showing results. Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, leader of a wing of House conservatives, told reporters that he and his colleagues "are so grateful for the heart of our majority leader."
-- March 18, 2005
• Media Matters reports on media spinning of DeLay's ethical scandals:
In a report on new ethics charges surrounding House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), Fox News correspondent Brian Wilson downplayed their significance by omitting key facts about DeLay's conduct as well as recent steps by Republicans to weaken the House ethics committee, apparently in an effort to protect DeLay. But Wilson did take the time in the same report to use half-truths to bolster DeLay's claim that he is the victim of a "partisan witch hunt." -- March 16, 2005
• Tom DeLay has drawn the ire of the nation's editorial pages:
– Cincinnati Post "DeLay Ignored History"
– Baltimore Sun "His Own Worst Enemy"
– East Valley Tribune (AZ) "DeLay's Destructive Tactics"
– The Philadelphia Inquirer "U.S. House Ethics Committee A Toothless Mess"
– The LA Times "The DeLay Volcano"
– The Henderson Gleaner (KY) "Ethics House GOP Guilty of DeLay Tactics"
– The Indianapolis Star "It Sounds Like Tom DeLay Really Needs Those Prayers"
– Fort Wayne Star Sentinel (TX) "De-Laying Tactics"
– CBS News "Denouncing DeLay"
– Seattle Times "Ethics II: Don't Stall in the U.S. House"
– Houston Chronicle "Flying Blind"
– The Nation "Without DeLay"
• Yesterday, reports the New York Times, President Bush voiced his support of Tom DeLay as House Majority Leader. "I have confidence in Tom DeLay's leadership and I have confidence in Tom DeLay." The President continued, "We've worked closely with Tom DeLay and the leaders in the House to get a lot done during the last four years." The President stopped short, however, of expressing confidence in the ethical decision-making of the Majority Leader. -- March 17, 2005
• The Washington Post reports that controversy is brewing over Bush's proposal to increase spending to DeLay's pet project, NASA. The administration wishes to eliminatie much of the funding that goes toward NASA's aeronautical research while boosting funds to NASA's exploration work. Not surprisingly, NASA's Johnson Space Center, which resides in DeLay's home district, is an exploration-based facility. -- March 17, 2005
• Despite the recent groundswell of controversy surrounding him, DeLay is expected to 'rake in the cash' at a ROMP fundraising event this evening, reports The Hill. -- March 17, 2005
• In what the Houston Chronicle dubs 'the latest round of connect-the-dots' between DeLay, TRMPAC and the Indian casino lobbying scandals, it has been revealed that the Austin lawfirm representing DeLay's TRMPAC, is also defending the Louisiana Coushattas tribe. At one time, Jack Abramoff represented the Choushattas casino interests on the Hill. -- March 16, 2005
• In addition to contributing to DeLay's legal defense fund, a Houston NBC news affiliate reports on yet another conflict of interest for House Ethics Committee member Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. It is being reported that Rep. Smith appeared in 2002 as a guest of honor and speaker for Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC). Operators of TRMPAC are currently under investigation for soliticing illegal corporate campaign contributions. -- March 16, 2005
• Congress Daily [paid subscription] reports that DeLay is seeking a 'dialogue' with the House ethics committee in order to "clarify his his role in two trips he made overseas."
In what might appear as a 'partisan attack' of his own, DeLay told reporters, "In recent years, there has been a growing frenzy surrounding the Ethics Committee, with Democrats and their allies attempting to use it as a partisan tool for partisan ends," he said. "It's very unfortunate that Democrats have no agenda. All they can do is carry on in the House and try to burn it down in order to gain power."
-- March 15, 2005
• The DeLay effect? The National Journal [paid subscription] reports that a new Gallup survey puts Congress' approval rating at a staggering 37 percent, 8 percent short of last month's numbers and the lowest since September of 1999. -- March 15, 2005
• The Washington Post reports on the beltway buzz surrounding Tom DeLay's recently revealed travel gifts from scandal-ridden lobbyist, Jack Abramoff. The Post reports:
White House press secretary Scott McClellan was asked whether President Bush still has confidence in DeLay. "The president works very closely with the majority leader and other members of Congress, and he appreciates the job that the majority leader is doing," McClellan said.
-- March 15, 2005
• Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne espouses on the possibility of a GOP 'rift' developing as a result of the scandals surrounding Tom DeLay, particularly as it related to Indian casino gambling. Dionne writes,
But the larger controversy lies beneath the surface. It involves a collision between the business interests of Republican lobbyists and the moral commitments of the party's large wing of social conservatives who strongly oppose the spread of gambling.
-- March 15, 2005
• The March 21st issue of TIME chronicles the fundraising & lobbying scandals surrounding Tom DeLay, which involved lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Washington insider Ed Buckham. -- March 14, 2005
• Even the Financial Times is reporting on DeLay's ethics woes. -- March 14, 2005
• The Washington Post editorial page calls attention to the lack of ethical oversight in the U.S. House:
THIS MAY NOT sound like news, but the House of Representatives is now an ethics-free zone. To be precise, it has no mechanism for investigating or disciplining members who violate ethics rules. The proximate cause of this breakdown is the revolt by the five Democrats on the evenly divided ethics committee. Led by the ranking Democrat, Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (W.Va.), committee Democrats understandably balked last week at acceding to new rules for how the panel should conduct its business -- rules dictated by the GOP leadership and slanted toward making the ethics process, already tilted in favor of gridlock, even more feckless.
--March 14, 2005
• The Washington Post reports that DeLay is fast becoming a liability for his party. --March 14,2005
• Scandal-ridden lobbyist Jack Abramoff had connections to several lawmakers, reports Sunday's Washington Post. To illustrate the layers of wheeling and dealing, the Post follows the money from Indian gaming tribes to Abramoff to lawmaker campaign coffers. -- March 13, 2005
• The Washington Post reports:
An Indian tribe and a gambling services company made donations to a Washington public policy group that covered most of the cost of a $70,000 trip to Britain by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), his wife, two aides and two lobbyists in mid-2000, two months before DeLay helped kill legislation opposed by the tribe and the company.
-- March 12, 2005
• House Democrats on the Ethics Committee have essentially gone 'on strike,' protesting the implementation of new GOP rules for the committee, reports the Washington Post. -- March 11, 2005
• Today's Washington Post presents a damning exposé of a trip to South Korea taken by DeLay in 2001 and allegedly paid by a foreign agent--which is explicitly banned under House rules. The Post reports that such a finding will likely trigger yet another investigation into DeLay by the House Ethics committee.
Reports the Post, "An aide to DeLay who asked not to be named said DeLay staff members had general discussions about the trip with the ethics committee before leaving and received verbal approval." However, reports the Post, "A veteran House official familiar with the case, who declined to be named because of DeLay's involvement, said verbal approval is not granted by the committee on such matters."
-- March 10, 2005
• Contrary to assertions made earlier by DeLay that he had no involvement in the operation of TRMPAC, the Houston Chronicle reports that DeLay said Wednesday he served as "a creator, adviser and fund-raiser to a Texas-based political action committee now under state criminal investigation."-- March 10, 2005
• Today's LA Times provides a detailed outline of the connections between DeLay, lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Rep. Feeney and Rep. Ney, congressional golfing trips, social security op-eds and the GOP thinktank, the National Center for Public Policy Research. -- March 9, 2005
• Documents submitted during last week's civil trial in Texas seem to indicate the DeLay had a larger role in the operations of TRMPAC than previously known, reports the New York Times. The Times reports:
The documents, which were entered into evidence last week in a related civil trial in Austin, the state capital, suggest that Mr. DeLay personally forwarded at least one large corporate check to the committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, and that he was in direct contact with lobbyists for some of the nation's largest companies on the committee's behalf.
In an August 2002 document subpoenaed from the files of the indicted fund-raiser, Warren M. RoBold, Mr. RoBold asked for a list of 10 major donors to the committee, saying that "I would then decide from response who Tom DeLay" and others should call to help the committee in seeking a "large contribution."
Another document is a printout of a July 2002 e-mail message to Mr. RoBold from a political ally of Mr. Delay, requesting a list of corporate lobbyists who would attend a fund-raising event for the committee, adding that "DeLay will want to see a list of attendees" and that the list should be available "on the ground in Austin for T.D. upon his arrival."
-- March 9, 2005
• CBS' 60 Minutes aired a 12-minute segment on Sunday on Tom DeLay and his embattled Texas political action committee, TRMPAC. -- March 7, 2005
• The Washington Post reports on allegations involving Tom DeLay and Texas District Attorney Ronnie Earle's investigation. -- March 6, 2005
• The Associated Press reports that District Attorney Ronnie Earle and the lawyer for GOP donors, Andy Taylor have "plunged into a war of words" over interpretation of the state's campaign finance law.
These donors, says Taylor, have hired him to lobby the Legislature to "clear clarify the mass confusion" of Texas' election law.
Earles response: "For roughly 100 years, the election law of Texas was plenty clear enough to prevent corporations and labor unions from controlling elections by making political contributions."
-- March 4, 2005
• Roll Call [paid subscription required] reports:
[Alan] Mollohan (D-W.Va.) took to the House floor Tuesday night and asked the House to reverse several controversial changes to ethics rules it adopted on the first day of the new Congress, including a provision stipulating that ethics investigations cannot begin without a majority vote of the bipartisan panel.
Mollohan introduced a resolution designed to achieve that goal, although Hastings, as a member of the House Rules Committee, actually chairs the subcommittee on the Rules panel with jurisdiction over Mollohan’s proposal.
House Democrats and ethics watchdog groups are also pressing the ethics committee to begin its own investigation into the relationship between House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, focusing on a trip DeLay and several former aides took to England and Scotland in 2000.
--March 3, 2005