|Tom DeLay- Corporate Whore|
U.S. House majority leader scheduled for deposition
Thursday, October 21, 2004 Posted: 3:13 PM EDT (1913 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has been subpoenaed to testify in a Texas civil lawsuit about his role in using government resources to track down Democratic legislators who fled the state during last year's bitter redistricting dispute.
The subpoena was delivered Wednesday to the Texas Republican's attorneys in Houston after a failed attempt to serve him personally, said Lon Burnam, the Democratic state lawmaker from Fort Worth who filed the lawsuit.
The subpoena calls for DeLay to give a deposition Monday.
"This is a cheap publicity stunt on something that has no connection to Tom DeLay," Jonathan Grella, a spokesman for DeLay, said Thursday. "It's a frivolous matter that's already been rendered moot and everyone should consider the source."
Burnam said there is a "litany of questions with regard to misuse of public funds" to pursue Democratic members of the Texas House who fled to Ardmore, Oklahoma, and DeLay's role in searching for them.
More than 50 state House Democrats, including Burnam, went to Oklahoma in May 2003 to prevent the quorum needed to pass a congressional redistricting map engineered by Republicans and pushed by DeLay.
Texas state troopers were dispatched to find the Democrats and return them to Austin. The House ethics committee on October 6 admonished DeLay for asking the Federal Aviation Administration to locate a plane owned by one of the fleeing lawmakers.
Burnam's suit alleges that the Texas Department of Public Safety destroyed documents detailing their efforts to apprehend legislators and that its troopers had no lawful authority to arrest the Democrats.
Published October 11, 2004
Don't look now, but "The Hammer" is getting nailed. Unless Republicans win a landslide victory on Nov. 2 that silences his many critics, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay stands a good chance of being turned out of his post by year-end. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, considering how this patron saint of partisanship has earned his appropriately aggressive nickname.
In the clubby halls of Congress, getting spanked by the in-house ethics police is pretty rare. Last week, DeLay was walloped not once but twice, on top of a separate trip to the woodshed the week before.
Unfortunately, the Texas Republican's conduct lends support to the most cynical view of how the nation's top lawmakers carry out their duties. And his angry reaction to being admonished by his peers shows that DeLay is too arrogant to mend his ways.
The House Ethics Committee, in a unanimous, bipartisan vote , has rebuked DeLay for unethical conduct. The five Republicans on the 10-member committee, led by U.S. Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.), should be commended for standing up to such a powerful member of their own party.
The facts, as revealed in the committee's investigative findings, are plenty damning. The most egregious example of misconduct involved DeLay's intervention in the Texas legislature's 2003 battle over redistricting. Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives had flown the coop, preventing state lawmakers from obtaining the quorum needed to ram through new districts that expanded Republican control.The speaker of the Texas House had heard that an airplane was shuttling the absent legislators out of state and wanted DeLay's help tracking it.
DeLay took down the tail number and directed one of his staffers to call the Federal Aviation Administration, which traced it to an Oklahoma airfield.
The Ethics Committee pointed out the obvious, namely that DeLay had no business using the resources of the federal government to further the partisan goals of his party in Texas.The committee also took DeLay to task for a smelly bit of fundraising in 2002. Just as Congress began a conference on high-stakes energy legislation, DeLay participated in a two-day event that included Westar Energy, a big contributor with an interest in the measure.
As DeLay and a pair of his senior advisers golfed and dined at a swanky resort, a Westar operative lobbied them for a special provision in the final bill. By all appearances, the committee concluded, Westar's $25,000 check to the "Texans for a Republican Majority PAC" had bought it special access to DeLay & Co.
Last week, the House panel also admonished DeLay for pressuring Rep. Nick Smith (R-Mich.) to vote for the Medicare prescription drug bill. In exchange for the vote, DeLay offered to endorse Smith's son in a congressional primary. That quid-pro-quo stuff is certainly a no-no, though to us it sounds like small potatoes compared with DeLay's airplane and fundraising capers.
But, hey, we're from Chicago.
DeLay has responded to his comeuppance with irrelevant bluster. Perhaps that's to be expected, given the uncompromising character of a fellow who has done as much as anyone to polarize Congress.
He's still not out of the woods on the Texas redistricting controversy, which has led to indictments against three of the majority leader's associates and eight companies.
DeLay has rejected Democrats' calls for his resignation. These may not be fireable offenses--they may be more common than anyone in either party wants to admit. But this much is certain: The Republicans need a new majority leader.
Eventually, House Speaker Dennis Hastert will retire, and the GOP will be looking for a successor if they still control the House. DeLay will be in line for speaker. The Republicans will make a terrible mistake if they hand it to him.
Far more than ideological zeal, voters want to see honesty and ethical behavior in public office. DeLay doesn't fit the job description.
Copyright © 2004, Chicago Tribune
Panel: DeLay's golf outing for energy executives looked improper
By R.G. RATCLIFFE
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau
AUSTIN - The U.S. House ethics committee's rebuke of Majority Leader Tom DeLay this week focused on an issue never raised publicly before: the appearance of impropriety created by an exclusive DeLay fund-raiser for energy executives held just before he served on a conference committee dealing with major energy legislation.
The ethics committee said the Sugar Land congressman gave the small group of executives direct access at the 2002 fund-raiser, a golf outing, and that a memo written by a former DeLay aide spelled out exactly what each of the executives attending the event wanted out of the energy legislation.
While there was no evidence DeLay took official action because of the event, the ethics investigators said the fund-raiser left the impression that beneficial action could be obtained with campaign contributions.
"At a minimum, his (DeLay's) conduct created at least the appearance that donors were being provided with special access to Representative DeLay regarding the then-pending energy legislation," the bipartisan committee said.
"Representative DeLay was in a position to significantly influence the conference, both as a member of the House leadership and, by action taken about a week and a half after the fund-raiser, his appointment as one of the conferees."
'Wild-eyed allegations'DeLay spokesman Jonathan Grella responded to questions about the report by focusing on complaints filed by U.S. Rep. Chris Bell, D-Houston, rather than on the ethics committee's findings. Bell had complained that Republican DeLay had acted improperly on behalf of Westar Energy Inc. of Kansas for a $25,000 donation the company gave to a DeLay-founded Texas political committee.
"Lame duck Chris Bell's allegations contained libelous and wild-eyed allegations of serious crimes," Grella said.
Bell lost his seat in Congress in large part because of a major redistricting bill DeLay pushed through the Texas Legislature.
Grella noted that the ethics committee said Bell's complaint about Westar was based on "unsubstantiated allegations."
While the committee cleared DeLay of wrongdoing involving Westar, the panel said it was led into questions about the energy fund-raiser while investigating the Westar portion of Bell's complaint.
The complaint about Westar revolved around e-mails that company executives and lobbyists wrote to secure a "place at the table" by giving $25,000 in corporate donations to Texans for a Republican Majority, founded by DeLay.
Two Westar executives were among the energy leaders who attended the golf fund-raiser DeLay had in June 2002 for his Americans for a Republican Majority PAC and TRMPAC at The Homestead resort in Virginia.
The fund-raiser was organized by former DeLay energy aide Drew Maloney, in coordination with ARMPAC staff. Energy executives were told they could play golf with DeLay for corporate contributions of $25,000 to $50,000 to either ARMPAC or TRMPAC.
At the time, Westar was trying to get legislation passed to remove the company from regulation under the Public Utility Holding Company Act.
A company lobbyist, Richard Bornemann, had written executives a memo explaining how campaign contributions could help the firm gain influence with House leaders, including DeLay.
But at first, Maloney did not want Westar participating in the golf excursion because the company was not a traditional electric-producing energy company. Bornemann told company executives in a memo they still might get into the event if they were willing to make a corporate donation to a DeLay committee.
"We think we can get by with that if we beg," Bornemann wrote.
4 companies attendedA May 8, 2002, memo from Maloney to DeLay's daughter, Dani DeLay Ferro, who organizes fund-raisers for her father, said energy companies that had confirmed attendance at the golf event were Reliant Energy of Houston with $50,000; and Williams Energy of Oklahoma, Mirant Corp. of Georgia and Westar, with $25,000 each.
Executives of those companies were the only ones to attend the golf event. But other companies donated, for a total of $152,500 raised at the two-day event, according to a memo from Maloney to an ARMPAC employee, Chris Perkins.
In a separate memo to Perkins before the event, Maloney detailed what the companies attending the golf tournament needed from federal legislation.
"Reliant's primary goal for the conference is to make sure the progress that has been made to deregulate the wholesale electricity markets are not rolled back," Maloney wrote.
As for Westar, "the company has a unique problem that was addressed in the House bill."
Donation questionedWhen Westar wrote its check to TRMPAC in May 2002, one vice president questioned why the company was making a donation to DeLay. "DeLay is from TX what is our connection?" asked Westar Vice President Douglas Lake in an e-mail.
Douglas Lawrence, Westar vice president for public affairs, replied: "DeLay is the House Majority Leader. His agreement is necessary before the House conferees can push the language we have in place in the House bill."
DeLay actually was majority whip at the time.
The ethics committee noted that when attendees got to the golf event, two members of DeLay's leadership staff were there: Jack Victory, who handled energy issues, and office counsel Carl Thorsen.
Attorneys for Lawrence and another Westar executive who attended the event said DeLay spoke to the group on June 2, 2002, and asked them "to advise him of any interest we had in federal energy legislation."
Lawrence said he spoke with DeLay that night about Westar's needs in the legislation. After golfing with DeLay the next day, Lawrence said, he again talked to DeLay about the bill.
DeLay told the ethics committee his staff members were at the event on their own time. He said he had no specific memory of what he said there, but he questioned the Westar characterization of his remarks at the opening meeting.
"It would not be typical for me at such events to have 'asked the group to advise' me of 'any interest' the attendees had in 'federal energy legislation,' " DeLay said. "That is not at all consistent with the manner in which I normally would interact with attendees at such an event."
Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, who had DeLay's proxy, cast a vote for the Westar legislation on the conference committee.
But Barton withdrew the legislation after the chairman of the Kansas Corporation Commission notified the committee that Westar was facing investigations by a grand jury and the Securities and Exchange Commission, and said it would be a mistake to remove the company from federal regulation.
Westar's then-CEO David Wittig met with DeLay in September to see if there was a chance of reviving the legislation. DeLay told him there was not, according to the ethics committee report.
Several days later, Lawrence sent an e-mail to company executives stating: "Things are grim in DC. The DeLay staff has asked us to release people from their commitment to support our provision."
DeLay told the ethics committee he was "not aware" of any commitments he or his staff had made to Westar.
No improper actionThe ethics committee concluded that "DeLay took no action with regard to the Westar provision that constituted an impermissible special favor or was otherwise improper."
But the ethics committee said the golf event violated the House standard that some fund-raising opportunities need to be passed over "solely because they create an appearance of improper conduct."
"In view of the circumstances of the June 2002 energy company fund-raiser ... Representative DeLay's facilitation of and participation in that event were contrary to those standards," the committee said.
"Those circumstances included not only the nature of the event, but also its timing in that it took place just as the House-Senate conference on the energy legislation — legislation of vital importance to the contributors at the fund-raiser — was about to commence."
Ethics Panel Cites Two Situations
By Charles Babington
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 7, 2004; Page A01
The House ethics committee last night admonished Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) for asking federal aviation officials to track an airplane involved in a Texas political spat, and for conduct that suggested political donations might influence legislative action.
The two-pronged rebuke marked the second time in six days -- and the third time overall -- that the ethics panel has admonished the House's second-ranking Republican. The back-to-back chastisements are highly unusual for any lawmaker, let alone one who aspires to be speaker, and some watchdog groups called on him to resign his leadership post.
The ethics committee, five Republicans and five Democrats who voted unanimously on the findings, concluded its seven-page letter to DeLay by saying: "In view of the number of instances to date in which the committee has found it necessary to comment on conduct in which you have engaged, it is clearly necessary for you to temper your future actions to assure that you are in full compliance at all times with the applicable House rules and standards of conduct."
DeLay said in a statement that he believed the complaint "should have been thrown out immediately," but, "I accept the committee's guidance. . . . For years Democrats have hurled relentless personal attacks at me, hoping to tie my hands and smear my name. All have fallen short, not because of insufficient venom, but because of insufficient merit."
DeLay's lawyer, former representative Edwin R. "Ed" Bethune (R-Ark.), told reporters that the committee's findings stopped far short of some of the most serious allegations, such as bribery, contained in the complaint filed in June by Rep. Chris Bell (D-Tex.). Bell's complaint triggered the ethics committee investigations of DeLay.
DeLay, 57, a 10-term veteran, helped orchestrate the 1994 GOP takeover of the House and became renowned for his bare-knuckled tactics as majority whip and an unrivaled fundraiser. Democrats long have reviled the former exterminator from the Houston suburb of Sugar Land, but now they are finding fodder in the bipartisan ethics committee.
While DeLay continues to enjoy broad support within his party, some independent analysts warned recently that another ethics rebuke could seriously impair his ability to continue to lead the Republicans or to advance his career.
The ethics panel faulted DeLay's actions in asking the Federal Aviation Administration last year to help locate a private plane that Republicans thought was carrying Texas Democratic legislators. Some Democratic lawmakers were leaving the state to prevent a quorum that Republicans needed in Austin to pass a bitterly disputed congressional redistricting plan engineered by DeLay. DeLay's staff asked an FAA official to help find the plane in a bid to force the legislators back to the capital.
The ethics report cited House rules that bar members from taking "any official action on the basis of the partisan affiliation . . . of the individuals involved." It noted that the FAA official later said he felt he "had been used" for political purposes. DeLay's role in the matter "raises serious concerns under these standards of conduct," the report said.
The redistricting plan, ultimately enacted, now threatens the reelections of five Democratic U.S. House members from Texas. Their losses would boost the GOP's congressional advantage and DeLay's power. Bell lost his reelection bid earlier this year in the Democratic primary, a result of the redistricting plans' movement of borders and voter blocs. DeLay's allies have accused him of seeking revenge, a charge that Bell, a Houston lawyer, denies.
The committee also admonished DeLay for his dealings with top officers of Kansas-based Westar Energy Inc. Some of the officers wrote memos in 2002 citing their belief that $56,500 in campaign contributions to political committees associated with DeLay and other Republicans would get them "a seat at the table" where key legislation was being drafted.
The ethics report said lawmakers may not solicit political donations "that may create even an appearance" that they will lead to "special treatment or special access to the member." DeLay's participation in Westar's "golf fundraiser at The Homestead resort on June 2-3, 2002, is objectionable in that those actions, at a minimum, created such an improper appearance," the report said. The golf tournament, which raised money for DeLay's political committees, "took place just as the House-Senate conference on major energy legislation . . . was about to get underway. . . . That legislation was of critical importance to the attendees."
The report said DeLay was "in a position to significantly influence the conference."
The ethics panel, formally called the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, deferred action on a third component of Bell's complaint. It dealt with the fundraising group Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee, or TRMPAC, to which DeLay is closely linked. A Texas grand jury last month indicted three of DeLay's political associates on charges of using TRMPAC to illegally collect corporate donations and funnel them to Texas legislative races.
The ethics committee said it will take no action on the matter "pending further action" concerning the indictments or the Texas-based investigation that prompted them.
Just as it did six days ago, the ethics committee released its report shortly before 9 p.m. Last night, word of the report seeped out as House members lingered near the Capitol for late votes. Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds (R-N.Y.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told reporters that DeLay "is a good man and a strong leader, and these politically motivated attacks will not deter him. . . . Shame on Chris Bell."
Bell said that the ethics committee "agrees that Mr. DeLay acted inappropriately and unethically in the course of conducting his duties," and called for DeLay to step down as majority leader. House Democratic leaders had no comment.
Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said in a statement that the committee has admonished DeLay for three separate incidents in six days -- in addition to the admonishment issued against him a few years ago. She said that "clearly shows that he believes himself to be above the law."
"If the Republican Conference wants the American people to believe that it takes ethics seriously," she continued, "it must insist that Mr. DeLay resign his post as majority leader."
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
Welcome back to the BuzzFlash.com GOP Hypocrite of the Week.
Like Bush, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay claims to be on a mission from God. And like a Texas rattlesnake, he slithers across the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives pushing a GOP Biblical worldview upon the United States and pounding colleagues and opponents into voting against their constituents better interests.
"The Hammer," as some call DeLay, uses unethical and bullying tactics more indicative of the Anti-Christ than an angel of God. Fortunately, for us, those tactics have him facing possible legal indictments and House ethics investigations.
Ending Tom DeLay's reign in Congress is important for all voters, because many Republican congressfolk who claim to be moderates, shrink under DeLay's pressure and vote for his Paleolithic legislative agenda.
And if a politician doesn't do what Tom DeLay says, they get their political kneecaps blown off by this zonked out Republican "rapture" mob enforcer and his Tim LaHaye "Left Behind" extra-religious cohorts.
He's a hit man for corrupt Republicans who fashion themselves fundamentalists, but have more in common with the mob than with the clergy.
Tom DeLay is an uber-hypocrite because he works hard to ensure a reign of evil will fall over the U.S. for years to come, but, like Bush, he does this by using God's name in vain. It's the old bait and switch: you know, the stern, sanctimonious minister who embezzles from the church funds and runs off with the choirmaster's wife.
Calling Tom DeLay a radical would be an understatement. A former exterminator, he once said that Dioxin was good for you. Calling him a hypocrite requires no statement. Tom DeLay is the pure embodiment of it.
A BuzzFlash Reader comments on the corrupted thinking of DeLay:
Dear Buzz,I noticed in this article (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/01/politics/01ethics.html) that Tom DeLay's defense for bribing a fellow Republican over the Medicare legislation implies that he does this kind of thing all the time:
In a statement, Mr. DeLay said that he had not meant to violate House rules and that the panel had never ruled on this type of activity before.
Read that again, "...never ruled on this type of activity before." So just how many times has DeLay and the GOP leadership resorted to bribery to advance their corrupt agenda? I'm almost afraid to know the real answer to that question.
By Larry MargasakAssociated Press
Published October 2, 2004
WASHINGTON -- Arms have always been twisted during close congressional votes on major legislation, but an ethics report rebuking House Majority Leader Tom DeLay added something the public rarely learns: What lawmakers really say to each other.The House ethics committee report even reveals what Republican members didn't say but were thinking as they unsuccessfully pleaded with Rep. Nick Smith (R-Mich.) to support a prescription drug benefit in Medicare.
The following are thoughts, comments and remembrances of the events last November, as told to ethics committee investigators for their report on attempts to pressure Smith.
As DeLay (R-Texas) approached Smith in late November 2003, he was thinkingthat he would be "stuck" talking with the Michigan lawmaker for a long time. He had talked with Smith before.That might explain why the following conversation lasted only eight seconds. DeLay: "I will personally endorse your son [a candidate for Congress]. That's my last offer."
There was, in fact, no first offer. DeLay said it was his exit strategy to end the conversation quickly.It was long enough, though, for the House ethics committee on Thursday to criticize DeLay for trying to trade a political endorsement for a vote.
The committee also rebuked Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.) for a heavy-handed attempt at persuasion, and Smith himself, for making exaggerated statements about the pressure he received.
On Friday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, "This offer of a quid pro quo further taints the Republicans' Medicare prescription drug bill."
The attempts to link Smith's vote to his son's candidacy was pervasive throughout the ethics report. Brad Smith eventually lost in the primary as he tried to succeed his retiring father. Most of the approaches occurred during the predawn hours of Nov. 22, 2003, when the Medicare vote was held open by GOP leaders from 3 a.m. to 5:51 a.m. Normally, a typical 15-minute vote may be held open about five minutes for late-arriving members. The Medicare legislation passed 220-215 without Smith's support.
"Well, I hope your son doesn't come to Congress," Miller recalled saying as Smith stayed on the House floor after voting. Smith, rising out of his seat, said he responded, "You get out of here." Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-Calif.) was sitting nearby. He was thinking: "It was not pleasant."
After the marathon vote finally ended and members were leaving, Smith encountered Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-Calif.). Smith said Cunningham began waving what appeared to be a billfold."We've got $10,000 already ... to make sure your son doesn't get elected," Smith recalled Cunningham saying. Cunningham said he didn't recall waving the billfold and denied mentioning any specific amount.
Besides DeLay, two of the most important Republicans to approach Smith were Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. Members of the president's Cabinet are allowed in the House chamber. Thompson said he asked Smith if he "had any questions on the bill that I could answer, or if there was any information that I could provide." Smith said "no. "Was there "any chance" of a yes vote, Thompson asked. Smith said "no."
Hastert joined the conversation. He recalled telling Smith that a "yes" vote would be "good for the Republican Party" and "good for the president." He also recalled telling Smith that a vote for the bill would be a legacy that Smith could pass on to his children and grandchildren.
Rep. James Walsh (R-N.Y.) said he was thinking how hard he had worked on the Medicare bill, and how "frustrated" and "impatient" he was awaiting the outcome of the vote." Can't you help us on this one?" Walsh recalls asking Smith. Smith: No. Walsh: "Well ... then, Nick, maybe you ought to think about sending me back that check that I sent to your son."
Walsh, in fact, hadn't yet contributed to Smith's son's campaign although he did so several weeks later. Smith cast his vote early and could have left the House chamber, but he remembers thinking, "I should stay there and take my licks."
Smith said Friday the report failed to make one crucial point."What seems to be lost in the debate ... is the fact that many members refused to vote for the Medicare bill despite enormous pressure," he said.
Ethics Panel Rebukes DeLay
By Charles Babington Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 1, 2004; Page A01
The House ethics committee admonished Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) last night for offering a political favor to a Michigan lawmaker in exchange for the member's vote on last year's hard-fought Medicare prescription drug bill.
After a six-month investigation, the committee concluded that DeLay had told Rep. Nick Smith (R-Mich.) he would endorse the congressional bid of Smith's son if the congressman gave GOP leaders a much-needed vote in a contentious pre-dawn roll call on Nov. 22. "This conduct could support a finding that . . . DeLay violated House rules," the committee said in its 62-page report. ". . . It is improper for a member to offer or link support for the personal interests of another member as part of a quid pro quo to achieve a legislative goal."
The committee said the report "will serve as a public admonishment" of DeLay, Smith and one other GOP lawmaker involved in the negotiations that occurred on the House floor as Republican leaders scrambled for support on a much-debated bill to add prescription drug coverage to Medicare.
They eventually extended the roll call for nearly three hours to avoid an embarrassing loss. The ethics panel, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, said it would take no further action in the case. It's rare for a high-ranking congressional leader to draw the admonition of the ethics committee.
In January 1997, the ethics committee voted 7 to 1 to recommend that House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) be reprimanded and pay a $300,000 penalty for disregarding House rules in misusing tax-exempt funds to promote his conservative political agenda.
DeLay has been the subject of several ethics complaints over the years. In May 1999, the House ethics committee privately chastised DeLay for threatening a Washington trade association with retaliation for hiring a prominent Democrat as its president.
Last month, a Texas grand jury indicted three of DeLay's political associates in a case involving a political committee affiliated with the majority leader. The House ethics committee is weighing a complaint against DeLay, unrelated to the Smith matter, which involves the Texas group and two other matters.