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DeLay Indictment Highlights Culture of Corruption in Washington

Sept. 28, 2005

DeLay Indictment Highlights Culture of Corruption in Washington

Statement by Joan Claybrook, President, Public Citizen

Republicans swept to power 11 years ago, promising to restore integrity to government. But the indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay today shows that something is rotten in the heart of the party’s political structure. DeLay’s raw power grab has relied on a complex influence-peddling scheme designed to consolidate his own power and that of his party’s while giving corporate interests private access to steer the wheels of government at the expense of citizens.

Americans deserve better from Congress than the culture of corruption and arrogance that DeLay and the majority party have installed. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle should work together to clean up the corruption and remove the corporate influence that keeps Congress from solving the real problems Americans face every day while it doles out billions to big corporations.

Corruption is not based on party affiliation, but there is one party in charge in Washington, and that party has the power to enact change. It should act immediately to do two things. One, replace the dysfunctional ethics committee with an independent agency that actually investigates corruption in a nonpartisan way. Two, enact legislation that reforms the corrupt lobbying system and returns the government to the people.  

Until the ethics process is overhauled, an immediate step the House ethics committee should take is to institute a thorough investigation of various other allegations involving DeLay, including that he granted legislative favors to Westar Energy in exchange for a $25,000 contribution to one of the political action committees at the heart of the Texas investigation. The committee also should closely examine DeLay’s relationship and dealings with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who seems to be at the center of multiple scandals involving Republican politicians.