|Tom DeLay- Corporate Whore|
Published on Sunday, November 28, 2004 by the Boulder Daily Camera
by Christopher Brauchli
A man is known by the company he keeps. - A saying
They're just a bunch of nails and nails, as is well known, do Hammer's bidding. And that explains why, during the week of Nov. 14, there were two things that happened that were wonderful for Mr. DeLay and only one bad thing. That made it a really good week.
The first good thing was that his trucklers in the House of Representatives inoculated him against any bad results were he to face criminal charges in the future. (Three of his close Texas associates have been indicted. The district attorney who brought the indictments is continuing his investigation and it is not yet known whether the trail of criminal conduct will eventually lead to Mr. DeLay.)
In order to avoid any adverse political effect on Mr. DeLay were he to be indicted, those who serve him in the House voted to get rid of the House rule that demanded that members holding leadership be purer than Caesar's wife. The revoked rule provided that a member of the leadership who was indicted had to temporarily step aside. Under the new rule an indicted leader may continue to serve. As Rep. Henry Bonilla, one of Mr. DeLay's sycophants put it: "Attorneys tell me you can be indicted for just about anything in this country, in any county or community. Sometimes district attorneys . . . could make a name for themselves by indicting a member of the leadership, regardless of who it may be, and therefore determine their future. And that's not right."
Being vaccinated against the untoward effects of suggestions he might face criminal charges was not Mr. DeLay's only bit of good news. Equally serendipitous was the House ethics panel's rebuke of Rep. Chris Bell. It was Mr. Bell's complaint against Mr. DeLay that prompted the ethics panel to admonish Mr. DeLay in September and October. Having acknowledged the validity of some of Mr. Bell's complaints, the committee nonetheless found that making his complaint, Mr. Bell had engaged in exaggeration and innuendo. Ignoring the reproofs he had received, Mr. DeLay said that his accuser was a "partisan stalker" and took the committee's rebuke of Mr. Bell as vindication.
Only one bad thing happened that week and it didn't affect Mr. DeLay — it simply reflected on him. In the middle of the week it was disclosed that another of his close aides may be a crook of some distinction. During that week Michael Scanlon, while testifying before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, took the Fifth Amendment seven times.
Mr. Scanlon served as Mr. DeLay's chief of staff and press spokesman from approximately 1997 until 2000 when he struck out on his own to make money as a publicist and, perhaps, a crook.
What is alleged is that he and Jack Abramoff, a major contributor to the Bush Cheney campaign and Tom DeLay paid Ralph Reed, leader of the Christian Coalition, $4.2 million between 2001 and 2003 for him to build religious sentiment against Indian casinos operated in competition with Indian casinos represented by the two men. Speaking Rock Casino operated by the Tigua Tribe in Texas was one of the rivals. In an e-mail to Mr. Abramoff, Mr. Reed said he had been successful in getting "our pastors" mobilized against the Tigua's casino. In 2002 it was shut down. Thereafter Messrs. Abramoff and Scanlon were paid $4.2 million by the Tigua tribe to correct what Abramoff told them was the "gross indignity perpetuated by the Texas state authorities." According to testimony before the Senate committee, the two men promised the tribe that they could get language inserted into a pending Congressional bill that would allow the casino to reopen. It never happened.
Mr. Scanlon was last in the news while serving on Mr. DeLay's staff. Commenting on the upcoming impeachment trial of President Clinton, Mr. Scanlon and another staffer exchanged e-mails. One of the e-mails, reportedly written by Mr. Scanlon said: "This whole thing about not kicking someone when they are down is BS. Not only do you kick him — you kick him until he passes out, then beat him over the head with a baseball bat, then roll him up in an old rug and throw him off a cliff into the pounding surf below." It is not unlikely that having heard Mr. Scanlon take the Fifth after bilking them of millions, there are a lot of Indians who hope that the justice system does just that to Mr. DeLay's former aide. Who can blame them?
Christopher Brauchli is a Boulder lawyer and and writes a weekly column for the Knight Ridder news service. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2004 The Daily Camera
By RONNIE EARLE
Published: November 23, 2004
Track news that interests you.
Austin, Tex. — It is a rare day when members of the United States Congress try to read the minds of the members of a grand jury in Travis County, Tex. Apparently Tom DeLay's colleagues expect him to be indicted.
Last week Congressional Republicans voted to change their rule that required an indicted leader to relinquish his post. They were responding to an investigation by the Travis County grand jury into political contributions by corporations that has already resulted in the indictments of three associates of Mr. DeLay, the House majority leader.
Yet no member of Congress has been indicted in the investigation, and none is a target unless he or she has committed a crime. The grand jury will continue its work, abiding by the rule of law. That law requires a grand jury of citizens, not the prosecutor, to determine whether probable cause exists to hold an accused person to answer for the accusation against him or her.
Politicians in Congress are responsible for the leaders they choose. Their choices reflect their moral values.
Every law enforcement officer depends on the moral values and integrity of society for backup; they are like body armor. The cynical destruction of moral values at the top makes it hard for law enforcement to do its job.
In terms of moral values, this is where the rubber meets the road. The rules you apply to yourself are the true test of your moral values.
The thinly veiled personal attacks on me by Mr. DeLay's supporters in this case are no different from those in the cases of any of the 15 elected officials this office has prosecuted in my 27-year tenure. Most of these officials - 12 Democrats and three Republicans - have accused me of having political motives. What else are they going to say?
For most of my tenure the Democrats held the power in state government. Now Republicans do. Most crimes by elected officials involve the abuse of power; you have to have power before you can abuse it.
There is no limit to what you can do if you have the power to change the rules. Congress may make its own rules, but the public makes the rule of law, and depends for its peace on the enforcement of the law. Hypocrisy at the highest levels of government is toxic to the moral fiber that holds our communities together.
The open contempt for moral values by our elected officials has a corrosive effect. It is a sad day for law enforcement when Congress offers such poor leadership on moral values and ethical behavior. We are a moral people, and the first lesson of democracy is not to hold the public in contempt.
Ronnie Earle is the district attorney for Travis County, Tex.
My, my, gonna be a long four years.
House Republicans have rewritten the ethics rules so Tom DeLay won't have to resign if indicted after all. Let's hear it for moral values. DeLay is one of the leading forces in making "Republican ethics" into an oxymoron.
The rule was passed in 1993, when Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, was being investigated for ethics violations. And who helped lead the floor fight to force him to resign his powerful position? Why, Tom DeLay, of course. (Actually, it's sort of a funny story. The D's already had a caucus rule that you had to resign from any leadership position if indicted. The R's changed their rules to match the D's, except they deliberately did not make their rule retroactive, so the highly indicted Rep. Joseph McDade, senior Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, could, unlike Rostenkowski, retain his seat.)
DeLay has already been admonished by the House Ethics Committee three times on separate violations of ethics rules. Please note, that is the Republican-dominated Ethics Committee. The hilarious rationale offered by the R's for the new rule to exempt DeLay is that no one can accuse them of taking the moral low road here because, "That line of reasoning accepts that exercise of the prosecutor in Texas is legitimate."
Uh, that would be Ronnie Earle of Austin, who is a known Democrat. On the other hand, Earle is quite noted for having indicted more Democratic officeholders than Republicans, so it's a little hard to argue that this is a partisan political probe. Or it would be, if facts made any difference these days to talk-show screamers.
Showing his usual keen sense of ethics, DeLay has already started a legal defense fund and raised $310,000 since last summer. According to the Austin American-Statesman, half the money has come from Republican House members, who are all dependent on the Republican Steering Committee for their committee assignments and chairmanships.
DeLay has three votes on the 28-member committee and, of course, more clout than anyone else in the House. (See Lou DuBose and Jan Reid's new book, "The Hammer," for more charming details on DeLay's House dictatorship). The other half of the contributions for DeLay's legal defense has come from political action committees, corporations and individuals.
Hey, no worries about corrupting influence there because DeLay already does favors for big contributors to his plain old political action committees, even without additional contributions to his defense fund. Moral values. DeLay is going to give born-again Christians a bad name.
In furtherance of moral values, Congress now has to raise the debt limit by another $800 billion. We actually reached the debt ceiling in early October, but obviously the R's didn't want that vote coming up before the election. Then after they finish spending a staggering amount of money, the R's will return to make Bush's tax cuts permanent.
Now I realize that the Bushies consider it a point of pride to pay not one iota of attention to what the rest of the world thinks about us. But I would like to point out that the rest of the world is holding our paper. And foreign investors have demonstrated elsewhere that they are quite capable of taking alarm over unsound fiscal practices and pulling out completely, leaving bankrupt countries behind.
Speaking of what the rest of the world thinks of us, the matter was nicely summed up by Britain's Daily Mirror with its classic tabloid headline, "How Can 59,054,087 People Be So DUMB?" The Guardian just put a tiny, white-on-black headline: "Oh God."
I realize the "liberal elites" are not allowed to even quote the word "dumb" lest we be accused of "cultural condescension" toward our salt-of-the-earth red-state compatriots. Since I'm a populist happily living in the midst of a quite red state (some of my best friends are named Bubba), I never pay any attention to such horse poop. But I do resent it when the people running the country think we're so dumb they can rip us off and then tell us to pray.
Molly Ivins is a best-selling author and columnist who writes about politics, Texas and other bizarre happenings.
November 19, 2004
Having picked up a handful of seats in this month's election, House Republicans seem to think they have a mandate to eradicate Congressional ethics standards.
On Tuesday, House Republicans unanimously elected Tom DeLay to serve another term as House majority leader, despite his unsavory record when it comes to abiding by accepted Congressional standards of conduct. He received two separate bipartisan rebukes from the normally timid ethics committee this fall.
Just in case Mr. DeLay gets into more trouble, G.O.P. lawmakers have followed up by repealing their wise party rule that barred indicted members from holding leadership positions. Only a handful of Republicans had the moral compass to object.
The Republican conference's worry about Mr. DeLay's relationship with the forces of justice stems from the same events that nailed down his current popularity. He muscled an egregiously partisan redistricting plan into Texas, and that helped Republican candidates pick up five Congressional seats there.
It is far from certain that Mr. DeLay will be charged with a crime in connection with the redistricting. During that effort, he strong-armed federal authorities into joining a search for Democratic state legislators who had left Texas to keep the plan from coming to a vote. But Mr. DeLay is plainly worried. Three of his aides were recently indicted on charges that they illegally laundered campaign money to help Texas Republicans, and prosecutors are said to be scrutinizing his own actions.
The Republicans also seem bent on reining in the ethics committee for having had the temerity to rebuke Mr. DeLay for some of his more outrageous conduct. The party's Rules Committee chairman, David Dreier, recently sent a letter to House members signaling that he plans to make it even harder than it already is for members to file an ethics complaint, and for outside groups to be heard in the process. Rumors also abound that come January, when the next Congress is seated, all five Republican members of the ethics committee, including its current chairman, Representative Joel Hefley, may be replaced.
The Republicans originally adopted the rule requiring indicted G.O.P. leaders to step down from their posts during the 1990's. At the time, the party was trying to demonstrate that it had firmer ethical standards than the Democrats, who then held the majority in the House.
Now it will be left up to party insiders on the Republican Steering Committee to recommend on a case-by-case basis whether a party leader should step aside after a state or federal felony indictment. The old era is clearly over, as are any doubts that the Republican House leadership has lost interest in the high moral ground now that it has further consolidated its power.
Tue Nov 16, 6:45 PM ET
Politics - AP
By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - Supporters of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay proposed a Republican rules change Tuesday that would protect the Texan's leadership position if he were to be indicted by a Texas grand jury that already charged three of his associates.
House Republicans are likely to approve Wednesday the change in the rule that would force him to step aside if indicted. The show of support would be an endorsement of DeLay's position that the Travis County investigation is a partisan attack.
Currently, rules of the House Republican Conference, which comprises all House GOP members, requires leaders to resign the party post if they are indicted for a felony punishable by two or more years in jail. The proposed change would eliminate the step-aside requirement for nonfederal indictments.
The Texas grand jury is investigating alleged campaign finance irregularities in 2002 state legislative races. Republican victories in those contests enabled DeLay ultimately to win support for a congressional redistricting plan that resulted in the GOP's gain of five seats in this month's elections.
The language was proposed by Rep. Henry Bonilla (news, bio, voting record), R-Texas, who was helped by the redistricting. Bonilla was re-elected in 2002 with less than 52 percent of the vote. After the boundaries were changed, he won this month with 69 percent of the vote.
Jessica Boulanger, spokeswoman for third-ranking House Republican Roy Blunt of Missouri, confirmed the proposal and said Blunt supported it.
The majority whip "believes the allegations are baseless, and they were political in nature. So he supports the proposed rules change by congressman Bonilla."
Bonilla spokeswoman Taryn Fritz Walpole said the proposed change is intended to "prevent political manipulation of the legislative process" and reduce the possibility of "political exploitation and intimidation of House leadership and chairmanship positions."
The Texas investigation is led by a Democrat, retiring Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle.
In September, the grand jury indicted three political operatives associated with DeLay and eight companies, alleging campaign finance violations related to corporate money spent in the 2002 legislative races. The corporate donations were made to Texans for a Republican Majority, a political action committee created with help from DeLay.
DeLay said he was not questioned or subpoenaed as part of the investigation.
The majority leader said after the indictments, "This has been a dragged-out 500-day investigation, and you do the political math. This is no different than other kinds of partisan attacks that have been leveled against me that are dropped after elections."
In October, the House ethics committee rebuked DeLay for appearing to link political donations to a legislative favor and improperly persuading U.S. aviation authorities to intervene in the Texas redistricting dispute.