Only in a world of contradictions would Tom DeLay, the man who has been holding a stick in the spokes of the House Ethics Committee wheels to keep it from investigating his manifold misdeeds, file the complaint that could break the ethics truce in the House. According to Human Events:
Soon-to-retire Rep. Tom DeLay (R.-Tex.) said today he would file an ethics complaint against Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D.-Ga.) for striking a Capitol Police officer should no other House member do so first.
The New York Times reports that Tom DeLay (R-TX) had become dispirited by the ethics scandals surrounding him, particularly following the guilty plea filed by his ex-aide Tony Rudy that implicated Ed Buckham, one of DeLay’s closest aides and friends. An associate of DeLay told the Times, “Tony Rudy and especially Ed Buckham were more than just former colleagues — they are Tom DeLay's friends.” Rep. Ray LaHood (R-TX) also stated about Rudy and Buckham, “Every story that is written will include DeLay's name, that's for sure.” Knight Ridder reports that DeLay’s decision is clearly related to the Rudy plea deal and the prosecution surrounding him. Kendall Coffey, a former federal prosecutor, tells KR, “Any rational person in his (DeLay's) position would be very concerned. Whether it’s working up the ladder at Enron or a drug organization, it’s classic strategy to work up by getting plea agreements and cooperation at each level.” The Washington Post interviewed a former aide to both DeLay and Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) who stated that DeLay’s reason for putting of his resignation announcement until after the primary election was to convert campaign contributions into money for his legal defense fund. “He needed to raise money for the defense fund. That was the bottom line. He wanted to make sure he could take care of himself in the court of law.” The National Journal provides a timeline of DeLay’s troubles from 1997 to his announced resignation.Continue reading
There is only one story in the blogs today and that is Tom DeLay resignation (effective sometime in May):
- Think Progress has been all over the story since MSNBC's Chris Matthews and Mike Allen of Time Magazine broke the story. Of particular interest is DeLay's statement that the Texas Legislature will remove Ronnie Earle from office:
SNOW: Okay, so at this point, you know — are you willing to let bygones be bygones?
DELAY: Absolutely not. Texas should not allow a district attorney from Travis County have this kind of power. And they can take his power away from him because there was the Texas legislature that gave him this power. And I think that will happen in the next session of the Texas legislature.
- Think Progress also finds DeLay bragging about the K Street Project:
The Democrats hate the fact that their culture of K Street has been changed from a totally dominated Democrat K Street [lobbying community] to a totally dominated Republican K Street. Nothing illegal about that at all. And we built that. When we took over in 1995, the K Street contributions to elections was 70/30—70 percent Democrat, 30 percent Republican. Today it’s 60/40—60 percent Republican and 40 percent Republican. That’s a change in culture. Democrats and the left hate that, and they have worked very hard to destroy it.
- TPM Muckraker is all things DeLay today. Seriously, try and find a post that's not about him. One story in particular stands out. It appears that Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) is replacing DeLay on the Appropriations Committee. The seat that DeLay held had recently been vacated by Duke Cunningham, who is now in prison serving an 8 year plus sentence for accepting bribes. Calvert "accompanied former Rep. (and current convicted felon) Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) to Saudi Arabia. Convicted felon Thomas Kontogiannis, a pal of Cunningham's, joined the two."
- Digby takes a guess at DeLay's next act (if it doesn't involve orange suits and bars). His guess is that DeLay would go and work for Rick Scarborough, the Christian Right activist and author of the forthcoming book Liberalism Kills Kids.
Embattled former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) announced that he would resign from Congress later this spring rather than seek a tough reelection battle, according to the Washington Post. DeLay told Time Magazine that he decided not to seek reelection after much deliberation because, “It was obvious to me that this election had become a referendum on me … It's obvious to me that anybody but me running here will overwhelmingly win the seat.” While DeLay insists that he is not under investigation and that he has done nothing wrong it is clear that prosecutors continue to work their way closer to him. The Post writes, “some of DeLay's official actions in Congress clearly fall within the scope of the continuing investigation: Last week's guilty plea by Rudy cites as part of the evidence of conspiracy a letter that DeLay wrote on behalf of an Abramoff client and legislation that DeLay supported on behalf of a client of Abramoff's firm.” Also noted in the Post is DeLay’s ability to “convert any or all of the remaining funds from his reelection campaign to his legal expenses … Election lawyers say one advantage of bowing out of the election now is that the campaign cash can be converted to pay legal bills immediately, instead of being drained in the course of a bid to stay in office.”Continue reading
Today’s announcement that Tom DeLay will be giving up his reelection campaign and his seat in Congress, amidst the unending swirl of scandals surrounding him, reminds me of an old editorial cartoon that used to be used as a training aid for investigative reporters.The cartoon was drawn in the late 1800s by Thomas Nast and entitled “The Many Pockets of a Politician’s Coat.” It showed money being stuffed into every conceivable pocket of a portly politician, by a variety of supplicants seeking favors and bearing cash. The cartoon was a favorite of Kent Cooper, who for many years ran the Federal Election Commission’s public records office and was a regular at training seminars for journalists. He used the illustration to impress upon reporters how important it was to look not just for direct campaign contributions, but for all those indirect pockets that accomplish the same goal by less visible means. Maybe it’s a job for the spouse, maybe a golfing trip to Scotland. Or maybe, as in the case of Tom DeLay, it’s a scheme for shifting funds to state candidates through federal party committees, or browbeating the lobbying community on K Street to hire more Republicans against the threat of losing their access. In the case of Mr. DeLay, there may still be pockets no one has looked into yet – but enough of them have been exposed that it has finally brought down the man who once was arguably the most powerful politician on Capitol Hill. Continue reading
Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s (R-TX) ex-deputy chief of staff Tony Rudy pleaded guilty to fraud charges stemming from “a bribery scheme that began in 1997 and ran through 2004,” according to Roll Call. The bribery scheme is the same one that brought Jack Abramoff and former DeLay spokesman Michael Scanlon to justice and has ensnared numerous members of Congress, most notably Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), who is mentioned in the plea deals of Abramoff, Scanlon, and now Rudy. While DeLay was not singled out in the Rudy plea his “single closest adviser” and former chief of staff Ed Buckham was implicated in the scheme. The majority of the actions noted in the Rudy plea occur from 2000-2002. Rudy’s actions from 1997 to 1999 are not detailed in the plea deal. The New York Daily News notes that the corruption probe is encircling DeLay. A “knowledgeable source” notes that Rudy and Buckham, “were Batman and Robin. Tony didn't do anything without Buckham's say-so. ... Buckham was Batman.”Continue reading
- Jack Abramoff and Tony Rudy were involved in the 1998 gubernatorial election in Guam, according to the Guam Pacific Daily News:
In e-mails reviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Abramoff had asked Tony Rudy, Rep. Tom DeLay's deputy chief of staff, to see if he could garner any assistance in helping the 1998 gubernatorial candidacy of former Gov. Joseph Ada and then Sen. Felix Camacho, now the governor of Guam, who ran against incumbent Gov. Carl Gutierrez at the time.
The e-mail from Abramoff, sent Oct. 26, 1998, stated, “We want to know if there is any way to get Tom to call for an investigation of the misuse of federal funds on Guam by this governor,” referring to Gutierrez.
Abramoff then said he would draft a statement for DeLay and suggested that if Rudy could "issue a press release and letter requesting an Inspector General to investigate these matters, it should have a major impact on the election next week."
Within a few hours, the report states, Rudy and DeLay aide Tom Scanlon released a statement from DeLay and a letter to the Department of the Interior's inspector general, calling for a federal investigation of Gutierrez.
- Former Pennsylvania congressman and current lobbyist Robert Walker “dismissed lobbying reforms approved by the Senate as minimal and said they would ‘have little or no impact on the way Washington actually operates,’” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Walker states that three steps need to be taken to crack down on lobbying abuses, “Credentialing lobbyists, abolishing so-called leadership political-action committees, and barring contributions by lobbyists to individual campaigns.”
- The Toledo Blade reports that Ohio Senate candidate Rep. Sherrod Brown (D), “his family, and his staff accepted 57 privately funded trips, valued at nearly $180,000, in more than a decade in the House - including flights to Finland, Hong Kong, Hawaii, Israel, Moscow, and Taiwan.” Brown opposes a proposed travel ban pending as a part of lobbying and ethics reform.
- The San Francisco Chronicle reports on Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s fundraising: “If money is power in politics, then Nancy Pelosi wields a lot of it.” Pelosi’s ability to raise money has also brought investigations, predominantly by a conservative named Ken Boehm. Although he tried, Boehm “failed to uncover anything that looked like a legal violation or a bona fide scandal, and he eventually got distracted and moved on to researching somebody else.”
- It seems to me that we get one of these “ethics committee sidelined” stories per week. This time it’s from Roll Call, “The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct met for several hours on Thursday but in the end only reached one public decision — to continue an investigation of a leftover complaint from the 108th Congress against Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) for his leaking of an illegally intercepted phone call between Republican leaders in 1996.”
- The Washington Post reports that Maryland is having just as hard a time as Congress in regulating lobbying.
Rep. Jim Ryun (R-KS) received a sweetheart real estate deal when he purchased the “safe house” owned by the Tom DeLay (R-TX) and Abramoff connected U.S. Family Network, according to TPM Muckraker’s Paul Kiel. The house located in Capitol Hill was purchased by the U.S. Family Network for $429,000 in 1999. It was sold in 2000 to Ryun for $410,000, a $19,000 loss for the USFN. Zillow.com, a real estate search engine, lists the current tax assessed value of the house at $660,850. Kiel writes, “Naomi Seligman of CREW told TPMmuckraker.com that Ryun's house deal should prompt a House Ethics Committee investigation. ‘Who else in America has lost money on a real estate transaction except [Cunningham contractor felon] Mitchell Wade?’” The U.S. Family Network is currently under investigation for illegal activities related to the investigation of Jack Abramoff.Continue reading
Want to know what the U.S. Family Network spent its money on? The Washington Post has an illustrative graphic on their site that is a must-see.
- Ed Buckham, the former chief of staff and religious advisor to former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), collected over $1 million through a non-profit group created while he was still under DeLay’s employ. (Washington Post) TPM Muckraker has been following Buckham’s money trail for some time. Check out their three parts series here, here, and here.
- The founder of “compassionate conservatism” Marvin Olasky is assailing former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed over his connections and dealings with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. (Washington Post)
- Robert Novak claims that Jack Abramoff is clearing DeLay from charges of corruption in his talks with investigators. Of course, the steady stream of stories like the Washington Post Ed Buckham story indicates that Abramoff is not the only corrupting influence on Capitol Hill. (Townhall.com)
- Laura Rozen notes that the wife of the mysterious Thommas Kontogiannis – one of the alleged bribers in the Duke Cunningham corruption case – gave “$18,000 to eighteen vulnerable Republican US House candidates” in 2004. Rozen writes, “These are not her local candidates, or broad nationally known candidates. Who was directing these payments to these obscure, vulnerable national Republican candidates? Who gave the Kontogiannis the Republican House play map? These payments suggest a degree of connection to someone far more central to the GOP House machine than even Cunningham.” (War and Piece)