|Tom DeLay- Corporate Whore|
DeLay accuser says staff firings resemble a purge
The Denver Post
WASHINGTON - When Republican leaders ousted him as House ethics committee chairman, Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colo., put on a smile and said it wasn't retaliation for rebuking the formidable House majority leader, Tom DeLay.
But when his replacement fired the top staffers who ran the DeLay investigation, Hefley's tone changed.
"That looks very much like a purge," said Hefley. "It seems to me like it was."
To Hefley, it was a telling end to a miserably handled chapter in his party's leadership of the House. Hefley said he was ready to leave as ethics chairman, an unpopular job.
But House Republican leaders, he said, turned his departure into a fiasco.
"They put me in a spot where I wasn't going to quit under fire," Hefley said Thursday, reflecting on the wild ride he's taken for three months.
As the House's top ethics cop, Hefley admonished DeLay, R-Sugar Land, for financial and political transgressions. When DeLay and House leaders then tried to weaken ethics rules, Hefley protested. And when House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said it was time for a new ethics chairman, Hefley made clear he was being pushed.
The soft-spoken lawmaker, once dubbed one of the 10 "most obscure members of Congress," suddenly found his utterances triggering banner headlines as editorialists dubbed him a "profile in courage."
The hard-line conservative, who has represented one of the most Republican districts in the nation for 18 years, got his staunchest support from the other party. And ethics watchdog groups such as Common Cause, which for years rapped Hefley as soft on ethics, lobbied to save his job.
"That's strange," Hefley said. "Some of those groups, I have often felt, made their living off of criticizing the ethics committee. Then all of a sudden, they're fighting for me to stay on. But we don't pay any attention to any of that."
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