The Associated Press reports that Tom DeLay's (R-TX) office knew that Jack Abramoff, and not the National Center for Public Policy Research, was behind the funding and coordination of a controversial 2000 trip to Scotland:
Prosecutors have e-mails showing Rep. Tom DeLay's office knew lobbyist Jack Abramoff had arranged the financing for the GOP leader's controversial European golfing trip in 2000 and was concerned "if someone starts asking questions." House ethics rules bar lawmakers from accepting free trips from lobbyists. DeLay, R-Texas, reported to Congress that a Republican advocacy group had paid for the spring 2000 trip that DeLay, his wife and top aides took to Scotland and England. The e-mails obtained by The Associated Press show DeLay's staff asked Abramoff -- not the advocacy group -- to account for the costs that had to be legally disclosed on congressional travel forms. DeLay's office was worried the group being cited as paying the costs might not even know about them, the e-mails state.Federal investigators are looking into whether "DeLay filed false public reports to disguise the source and size of political donations, travel and other gifts he received from special interests." Both Tony Rudy and Jack Abramoff have already pled guilty and have agreed to cooperate. Kent Cooper, the former chief of public disclosure for the Federal Election Commission says, "It clearly shows some members live in a dream world of high-class living and fictional accounting. DeLay's office was part of the public deception." Continue reading
Rep. Tom DeLay raised more money to pay legal fees after abandoning any effort to return as majority leader than he did in the immediate months following his indictment in Texas last year on money laundering charges. DeLay, R-Texas, received lots of help in boosting his legal defense fund from Texas financiers of Republican causes, corporations and fellow members of Congress. But he spent as much as he raised during the first three months of 2006.Contributors included the funder of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth Bob Perry, ex-Houston mayor Bob Lanier, San Antonio doctor and backer of private-school vouchers James Leininger, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., BNSF Railway Co., and Panda Energy Management Inc. Continue reading
- The New York Times picks up the story of Alan Mollohan's (D-WV) farm on Cheat River. Mollohan "acknowledged yesterday that he had on several occasions steered earmarks to federal agencies to finance contracts with his friend's company, FMW Composite Systems. ... But Mr. Mollohan said that he was not FMW's only 'Congressional sponsor' and that he saw no conflict of interest between his personal real estate purchase and the company's federal contracts." Congressmen, act now, and sponsor a campaign donor today.
- Tom DeLay's (R-TX) former chief of staff and now powerful Republican lobbyist Susan Hirshmann is profiled in the Legal Times.
- We have another editorial bashing the House's attempt at lobbying and ethics "reform", this time from the New York Times.
"The proposal is a cadaverous pretense that Congress has learned the corrupting lessons of Jack Abramoff, the disgraced superlobbyist; Representative Tom DeLay, the fallen majority leader; and Duke Cunningham, the imprisoned former congressman. It makes a laughingstock of the pious promises of last January to ban privately financed junketeering by lawmakers. Instead, these adventures in quid pro quo lawmaking would be suspended only temporarily, safe to blossom again after the next election."
- And if you thought those gas prices were going to go down I hope you have a few million dollars to lobby Congress. The Hill reports that the oil and gas industry are preparing to throw $30 million into a "grassroots" campaign to lobby Congress and improve their image among the American people.
- If you're looking for a job you might want to become friends with Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA), says Ken Silverstein at the new Harpers.org blog. Or you could become one of his daughters.
- Another U.S. contractor in Iraq pleads guilty, this time for bribery. According to the Washington Post, "Philip H. Bloom admitted his part in a scheme to give more than $2 million in cash and gifts to U.S. officials in exchange for their help in getting reconstruction contracts for his companies. Bloom's firms won $8.6 million in reconstruction deals, with an average profit margin of more than 25 percent."
- Tom DeLay is like Waldo. He's in every page (scandal) - you just have to look hard enough to find him. From the Houston Chronicle. Continue reading
An appeals court judge has thrown out a conspiracy charge brought against Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) but has maintained the more serious charge of money laundering, according to the Associated Press. Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker writes, "The appeals court's decision clears the way for a trial date being set. The main event shouldn't be far off -- I'd expect it sometime in late summer." They have the indictment if you'd like to read it.Continue reading
- Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), under fire for possible connections between his skyrocketing finances and earmarked provisions, aimed to rebut the charges by detailing his finances in an interview with the Charleston Daily Mail.
- An energy industry lobbyist whose company Xcel Energy is facing an EPA lawsuit attended a controversial fundraiser in Colorado headlined by the current EPA chief administrator Stephen Johnson, according to the Denver Post.
- Soon to be retired Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) brought in $484,475 in campaign contirbutions between February 15th and March 31st which he can now convert over to his legal defense fund, according to the Houston Chronicle. Continue reading
Why are lobbyists, who are attempting to retain their credibility and "integrity" in the face of mounting influence-peddling scandals in Washington, thinking of hiring the scandal-plagued former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX)? Jeff Birnbaum of the Washington Post reports from a lobbyists' dinner where Tom DeLay was "the elephant in the room":
While dinner participants were praising the many good deeds they do, other lobbyists around town were expressing their eagerness to hire DeLay. As long as he isn't forced to wear an orange jumpsuit (and possibly even then), those lobbyists said, DeLay could easily become a lobbyist himself and make a lot of money. That isn't exactly what you'd call the gold standard of integrity.These lobbyists would love to bring DeLay's prodigious talent at manipulating the political process to ram bills through the Congress to their respective lobbying firms. Here are some choice quotes from these virtuous lobbyists:
"He could come over here and be my boss if he wanted to be." - Charles Black, chairman of BKSH & Associates "He would be an enormously successful lobbyist. I can't think of anybody who has more friends on Capitol Hill or, more important, more understanding of the process and the rules on Capitol Hill." - Wayne Berman, Federalist Group LLC "Tom would find a lot of places where he would be quite sought after downtown ... He's beloved by the House Republicans. If he wanted to do it, he would find a lot of people interested in hiring him." - former Rep. Vin Weber (R-MN), Clark & WeinstockAs it turns out these lobbyists aren't exactly the most nonpartisan folks in town. They each have the same reason to like DeLay so much. Black is a former advisor to Presidents Reagan and H.W. Bush, a political consultant to Sens. Bob Dole and Jesse Helms, and serves on the board of directors of the American Conservative Union. Black also lobbies on behalf of the controversial Lincoln Group, the contractor assigned with putting pro-American propaganda into Iraqi newspapers. Berman was the subject of much controversy during the 2000 election when, as a top Bush fundraiser, he was asked by the campaign to cease fundraising activities due to his connections to a major corruption scandal in Connecticut. He is currently a loobyist for ChevronTexaco. Weber, a former Republican congressman and Project for a New American Century signatory, recently lobbied on behalf of the Dubai Ports company DP World in the battle to acquire a number of major American ports. These quoted lobbyists are all partisan political operatives, not mere representatives of the lobbying community writ large. These quotes represent the bias of their partisan affiliation more than an actual appraisal of Tom DeLay's worth and risk in moving to K Street. But then again, these guys might just think that Tom is a victim of a witch hunt targeting Christians. NOTE: Birnbaum will be doing a Live Discussion at the Washington Post website at 1 pm if you have any questions for him. Continue reading
Yesterday the New York Times reported on the involvement of spouses and family members in the Jack Abramoff scandal. Julie Doolittle, the wife of Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA), “has been subpoenaed … and questioned by the F.B.I.” about her “marketing and events-planning work for Mr. Abramoff’s lobbying firm and for his Washington restaurant, Signatures”. Rep. Tom DeLay’s wife Christine “received $115,000 in consulting fees from 1998 to 2002” from the U.S. Family Network, a nonprofit run by former DeLay chief of staff Ed Buckham who is currently “under scrutiny by the Justice Department because of his lobbying contacts with Mr. DeLay’s House office.” Lisa Rudy, the wife of Tony Rudy, the ex-deputy chief of staff to DeLay who pled guilty last week, “received $50,000 in consulting fees as a result of what her husband has acknowledged was a corrupt scheme with Mr. Abramoff to influence the workings of Mr. DeLay’s office and promote the concerns of Mr. Abramoff’s clients on Capitol Hill.” Wendy Buckham, the wife of Ed Buckham, “shared more than $1 million in consulting fees with her husband from the U.S. Family Network, a nonprofit group tied to Mr. DeLay. The group has drawn the scrutiny of law enforcement officials because so much of its income was directed to the Buckham family and appears to have come from Russian businessmen eager to court favor from Mr. DeLay.” The Times also provides a graphic illustrating the connections to family members in this bribery scheme.Continue reading
Chris Cillizza of The Fix follows up on yesterday's announcement by Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), otherwise known as "Respresentative #1" in three separate plea deals, that he will not resign as "Representative #2" Tom DeLay (R-TX) has chosen to do. Cillizza takes a close look at the differences between the two troubled congressmen and their divergent decisions:
Legally, DeLay faced more imminent problems than Ney.
DeLay is currently under indictment in Texas for his role in an alleged money laundering scheme run through his Texans for a Republican Majority political action committee. In the federal investigation into the ever-broadening pay to play scandal surrounding former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, DeLay has watched as several of his key aides (including his former press secretary and deputy chief of staff) have plead guilty to various crimes. But DeLay has never been directly implicated, and he has said publicly that investigators have told him he is not a focus of the Abramoff probe.
Ney, on the other hand, has been repeatedly referenced by both Abramoff and Tony Rudy in their plea agreements with prosecutors -- although never by name. Known as "Representative #1" in the Abramoff plea document, Ney is alleged to have accepted a variety of trips and gifts from Abramoff and his associates in exchange for official actions.
Ney has denied any wrongdoing, although he has acknowledged his legal peril by declaring that he will run for reelection even if he is indicted. The chairman of the Ohio Republican Party has said Ney should resign if indicted.
There may be a political decision going on with Ney, as there was with DeLay's decision to raise money through his campaign committee to then be converted to his legal defense fund:
Ney will face voters in his 18th District for the first time on May 2. In that primary race, Ney is matched against financial analyst James Brodbelt Harris, a youthful, first-time candidate given no chance of ousting Ney.
Even Ney's biggest critics within his party want him to stay on the ballot through May 2 -- if he dropped from the race before that time, Harris would need just a single vote to win the nomination. National Republicans would prefer the opportunity to influence the selection process of a replacement nominee, which is only possible if Ney steps down after becoming the party's official nominee.
In talking to Republicans familiar with internal polling in the DeLay and Ney races, the Ohio Congressman is currently in worse shape.
The Ney drop out watch begins on May 3rd. Continue reading