Tom DeLay- Corporate Whore

Hammering away at House ethics

A Times Editorial
Published March 28, 2005

Now that Republicans have stripped the U.S. House ethics committee of its chairman, its staff and its investigative punch, The Hammer is chewing nails again. Tom DeLay, the ethically challenged House majority leader from Texas, says he's eager to appear before the committee and address the "fiction and innuendo" about his latest travel capers.

One small problem. The committee, at this point, exists only on paper.

Though DeLay characterizes his problems as the "partisan politics of personal destruction," the three members who were unceremoniously removed from the committee were all Republicans. They had dared to vote last fall, along with Democrats on the committee, to admonish DeLay for three of his latest stunts: seeking campaign donations from a Kansas electric company while the House energy committee was considering a relevant bill; pressuring FAA officials to help track Texas Democratic lawmakers who left the state to prevent a vote on redistricting; and offering to endorse the congressional candidacy of U.S. Rep. Nick Smith's son if Smith would reverse his vote on Medicare prescription drugs. The committee further advised DeLay that it is "clearly necessary for you to temper your future action."

Temperance is not what earned DeLay the "Hammer" nickname, however. So the Washington Post recently added two more entries to his ethics ledger. DeLay, it seems, jetted off to South Korea on the dime of foreign agents - in direct violation of House rules. And an Indian tribe and gambling operation picked up the tab for a lavish trip to Britain in which DeLay managed to play the famed St. Andrews golf course in Scotland; two months later he voted to kill a bill that restricted Internet gambling.

These latest reports only add to the DeLay legend, and a Texas grand jury may trump them all. Three of DeLay's associates already have been indicted in what prosecutors claim was a political money laundering scheme that funneled corporate money into Texas campaigns, in direct violation of state law. How has DeLay responded? By collecting $1-million from special interest groups, and two new members of the House ethics committee, to seed his own legal defense fund.

DeLay, who is in his 11th term in office, responds to every new finding by blaming Democrats, as though they helped him tee up his ball at St. Andrews. Missed in his shrill partisan attacks is the fact that Republicans are now the ones who are suffering. To cover up his deeds, the House now has rendered its own ethics committee mute. No wonder he's thumping his chest again.

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