|Tom DeLay- Corporate Whore|
2/28/2005 @ 6:41 pm EST
Former congressman who filed DeLay ethics charge says Congress must investigate
By John Byrne | RAW STORY Editor
The former Democratic congressman who filed an ethics complaint against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) told RAW STORY Monday he wasn’t surprised about new revelations that DeLay enjoyed $134,000 in travel at the expense of a group which uses scare letters targeted at senior citizens to raise money.
“I can’t say I'm terribly surprised,” Bell said.
Bell's complaint filed against DeLay in 2004–which accused DeLay of illegally soliciting and accepting campaign funds and abusing his office to redistrict Texas–resulted in the House leader being admonished by his Republican colleagues. The Texas Democrat was subsequently criticized by the GOP-controlled Ethics Committee for including “innuendo, speculative assertions or conclusory statements” in his complaint.
Bell was forced out of Congress last year due to a DeLay-engineered redistricting plan.
The former congressman said DeLay's use of a dubious conservative nonprofit to fund trips to Europe and Asia were perfect examples of why a full-scale investigation of DeLay's activities was warranted.
“Such an investigation would reveal other matters that probably had not come to light such as this,” Bell said. “My feeling for quite some time has been that Tom DeLay is individual who is willing to thumb his nose at rules and the law to get what he wants. This is just another example of that kind of conduct.”
Bell asserted that DeLay’s travel arrangements were part of a larger pattern of unethical behavior, and that a key lobbyists relationship with DeLay must be examined.
“If you look at Mr Delay’s course of conduct over the last ten to fiteen years you see certain pattern,” he said. “When Jack Abramoff started getting in trouble, Tom immediately began distancing himself from him, acting like there was no real relationship there.”
“I think that what [RAW STORY] brings to light is a very clear relationship,” he added. DeLay “certainly didn't mind sharing in the spoils.”
Abramoff, a powerful conservative lobbyist who is under investigation for excessive fees and casino deals, paid $13,000 for a trip DeLay took to London. A group he served as a director for, the National Council for Public Policy Research, also footed the bill for $134,000 in other DeLay travel expenses.
Melanie Sloan, Executive Director for the watchdog group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington that wrote Bell’s complaint, said Abramoff had used the group as “basically [his] private funding source.”
“When lobbyists can funnel campaign contributions through nonprofits,” Sloan added, “it’s basically money laundering.”
DeLay has been admonished several times by the House Ethics Committee. In 1997, the Committee issued a statement advising DeLay to avoid creating the appearance of giving favors to his brother, a registered lobbyist. In 2004, DeLay was admonished for suggesting he would only support a member's son's congressional campaign if the member voted a particular way on a Medicare bill.
Bell called on members of Congress to fully investigate DeLay and set a higher
standard of ethics.
“Members of the House have a clear opening here for them to talk about [DeLay] and focus on the larger question regarding to overall ehtical climate,” he said. These “allegations deserve a full scale investigation. You can only sweep so much under the carpet.
“Members of Congress are only fooling themselves if they think the American people are being fooled,” he added.
DeLay and the Office of the Majority Leader have declined repeated calls for comment. The group that paid for DeLay’s trips defended their fundraising practices as necessary to stand out in an era where direct mail solicitations are commonplace.
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