There aren’t many sweet moments when one is toiling against corruption in Congress, but this is one of them. Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), "The Hammer," is resigning from Congress.
Those of us working at Clean Up Washington would like to thank you for this important moment. Today’s announcement is the culmination of a long term struggle that we started together in the fall of 2004, and everyone who sent an email, made a phone call, gave a contribution or wrote a letter to the editor helped build the pressure that made this victory inevitable.
Today’s Washington Post gives a good synopsis of DeLay’s resignation announcement, which follows his initial loss of the House majority position last September, when he was indicted for money laundering in Texas. (A loss, btw, that you and thousands of fellow corruption activists helped engineer when you shamed the Republicans in the House of Representatives, in January of 2005, to reinstate the rule that indicted members of their caucus could not hold leadership positions.)
The Post article cites sources close to DeLay who claim that he took his action for the good of the party. I say don’t bet on it. Tom DeLay took this action for the same reason he took every ethically questionable action in his long career – for the sake of Tom DeLay, his power and his bank account. By resigning now he saved himself from a bruising reelection fight that he was increasingly likely to lose. (Polls showed him well behind his Democratic opponent.)
Another big reason which you don’t see mentioned in the Post article is money. DeLay is allowed, under law, to take the $1,295,350 in his campaign coffers and transfer it to his legal defense fund. You can bet that weighed heavily on the mind of the former power-broker who is looking at a long and nasty legal battle – and possible jail time. He’ll need every penny he can lay his hands on for what promises to be a long year ahead.
But this is, all those points notwithstanding, an important and satisfying moment. Post a comment below to share how you intend to celebrate this victory!
Just as important, we need to use this opportunity to press our demand for reform. Click here to send a message to your Representative, demanding that they respond to DeLay’s resignation with REAL ethics and lobbying reform. The fight continues with lobbying reform legislation in the House and an upcoming candidate accountability project scheduled for this summer. Stay with us, friends – together we can Clean Up Washington!