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Tom DeLay
9.30.05
Politics and Economy:
Congressman Tom DeLay
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UPDATE: Tom DeLay has been indicted by a Texas Court. NOW has reported on allegations of ethics violations surrounding Mr. DeLay in the past (see below.) This week, David Brancaccio gets inside perspective on the case against DeLay from Craig McDonald, Executive Director of Texans for Public Justice, TPJ, an Austin-based non-profit which takes on political corruption and corporate abuses in Texas. Texans for Public Justice filed a formal complaint with the Travis County District Attorney requesting helping to begin an investigation into what appeared to be unlawful uses of corporate funds by Congressman Tom DeLay’s Texans for Republican Majority PAC (TRMPAC). This week a Travis County Grand Jury charged DeLay with criminally conspiring with TRMPAC.

Tom DeLay's Ethics Problems

Allegations of ethics violations swirling around House Majority Leader Tom Delay have raised serious questions about a possible epidemic of "pay-to-play" politics in American government. In addition to the back and forth by DeLay's Republican colleagues about changing House ethics rules, DeLay faces questions about trips that might have been funded by lobbyists, employment of family members and his relationship to lobbyist Jack Abramoff. DeLay's problems have so entered the public consciousness that the TV show LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT aroused the Majority Leader's wrath by making a reference to a suspected assailant wearing a "Tom DeLay T-shirt."

Previously NOW reported on DeLay and A lawsuit related to a Texas fundraising group, TRMPAC, which has just been ruled upon by a Texas court. This week, NOW investigates the charges against DeLay and shines a spotlight on the real-world consequences of special interests, lobbyists, and big campaign donors using money and gifts to exert influence over our elected officials. The program looks at the sweatshop working conditions in the Mariana Islands, an American territory, which is the focus of new allegations that an aide to DeLay offered federal money to local legislators to support a local leader who opposed reforming the garment industry in the Marianas.

Although the Democratic National Committee maintains an entire section of their Web site dedicated to DeLay scandals, and the GOP's site contains many ardent defenses — critics and defenders don't necessarily follow party lines.

Critics and Champions

Read more about the debate below and discuss your thoughts on the topic.

Supporting DeLayAgainst DeLay
"The constant attacks on House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's character and ethics are an organized liberal campaign to demonize the Texas Republican: The goal is to cripple him as a leader or to force him out of his post as second in command among House Republicans. The campaign is being orchestrated outside Congress by a coalition of liberal interest groups financed by the usual suspects. They have taken to calling themselves the "Congressional Ethics Coalition" and claim they are non-partisan citizens' groups enraged by the "corruption" of the Republican Congress. The members of this coalition, however, are anything but non-partisan. George Soros has reportedly given the groups in the coalition upwards of $3 million, and they are staffed by former Democratic Hill aides, liberal activists and Democratic campaign workers."

- David A. Keene, American Conservative Union, Liberals Are Waging a Smear Campaign, Conservatives Must Defend DeLay, April 29, 2005

"The absence of a smoking gun does not mean conservatives should hang on to Mr DeLay. To begin with, such a gun might still emerge: there are several inquiries into the affairs of Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist pal of Mr DeLay's who raised tens of millions of dollars from Indian tribes in controversial ways. Second, there is already enough material for Democrats to keep DeLaygate open for months: it is hard to imagine the Hammer allowing anybody else to turn himself into such a distraction from the party's agenda. And, third, even without a smoking gun, Mr DeLay embodies an abuse of power that is becoming a huge problem for the Right. Look back over the former pest-controller's career in the capital and two intertwined themes emerge: his willingness to push any rule to its limits (he even, temporarily, got his party to rewrite its rules forbidding people indicted for serious crimes to hold leadership posts), and his hand-in-glove relationship with lobbyists."

- "Time for him to go," THE ECONOMIST, April 14, 2005

"A lot of charges are ... attacks by Democrats, and I suspect for partisan reasons. ... I think they're just desperate. They don't have -- they're not offering ideas in the debate. They're not being constructive. And so some of their members are taking potshots at Tom DeLay. But think about it -- they're attacking him for having his wife and daughter on the campaign payroll. Many Democrats have relied upon their family members to help campaign for them and serve as members of their staff. So this is all going to be resolved by the ethics commission -- committee, we think, in an appropriate way. And Tom DeLay is going to continue to be a strong and effective majority leader for the Republicans in the House."

--White House advisor Karl Rove on CNN, April 18, 2005

"The problem, rather, is that Mr. DeLay, who rode to power in 1994 on a wave of revulsion at the everyday ways of big government, has become the living exemplar of some of its worst habits. Mr. DeLay's ties to Mr. Abramoff might be innocent, in a strictly legal sense, but it strains credulity to believe that Mr. DeLay found nothing strange with being included in Mr. Abramoff's lavish junkets...Whether Mr. DeLay violated the small print of House Ethics or campaign-finance rules is thus largely beside the point. His real fault lies in betraying the broader set of principles that brought him into office, and which, if he continues as before, sooner or later will sweep him out."

- WALL STREET JOURNAL Editorial, 3/28/2005

Additional sources: "Conservative leaders rally around DeLay, Chuck Lindell, AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, March 31, 2005; "Tom DeLay Battles His Critics," CNN: Inside Politics, April 18, 2005; "Tom DeLay ethics investigation likely," NBC News: Nightly News, April 27, 2005; "Law & Outrage," Mary Ann Akers, ROLL CALL, May 31, 2005

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