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DeLay Leaving Congress, But Need for Lobbying and Ethics Reform Remain

April 4, 2006

DeLay Leaving Congress, But Need for Lobbying and Ethics Reform Remains

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Although former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) is leaving Congress, the system that fostered his corrupt practices remains, Public Citizen said today.

“During Tom DeLay’s many years in Congress, he led his colleagues to new heights of corruption. The potential for future abuses by other ethically challenged lawmakers must be curtailed,” said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. “The need for true lobbying and ethics reform could not be more urgent. DeLay’s departure will not wipe the slate clean.”

Added Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office, “Tom DeLay is under indictment for a reason. His trail of corruption has come back to haunt him. He redrew his district to increase the number of Republican seats in Congress throughout the state. But now, with his indictment and disrepute, he calculates that he is unable to win re-election.”

The list of abuses by DeLay is long. He was accused of trading votes on energy legislation for campaign cash from Westar Energy Corp. He is under indictment in Texas for criminal conspiracy in laundering massive amounts of corporate funds into Texas state elections. He was a driving force behind the K Street Project, through which trade associations were pressured to hire Republican lobbyists if they hoped to have influence on Capitol Hill. Two top former DeLay staffers have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from an influence-buying operation. DeLay, a top Republican fundraiser, traveled extensively on the dime of lobbyists and corporations seeking favorable legislation. He is also notorious for violating rules and delaying votes in Congress until he twisted enough arms to get his majority.

The key way to curb the influence of corporate moneyed interests in Washington is to stop the flow of money from lobbyists to lawmakers, Public Citizen maintains. Also, an Office of Public Integrity – which the Senate last week rejected – must be created to oversee compliance with lobbying and ethics rules for both members and lobbyists. Neither the House nor the Senate ethics committee has been effective in handling DeLay’s egregious ethics abuses – the House ethics committee merely admonished him.

For detailed information about DeLay’s ethical abuses, click here.