|Tom DeLay- Corporate Whore|
Loose lips sinking DeLay?
Molly Ivins, Creators Syndicate
Published April 21, 2005
AUSTIN, Texas -- Spring fever is taking a weird form this year. Politicians say nice things for political reasons and then revert with a vengeance--a sort of political Tourette's syndrome, they can't help what they say.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), of all people, recently issued a fatwa on the need for good manners, a concept so bizarre there is no metaphor for it. It is itself a simile: "as weird as the time Tom DeLay gave us all a lecture on manners."
In his new role as the Emily Post of politics, DeLay informed us, "It is unfortunate in our electoral system, exacerbated by our adversarial media culture, that political discourse has to get so overheated, that it's not just arguments, but motives are questioned." Did someone question his motive in taking an all-expenses-paid vacation from a lobbyist?
This would be the same Tom DeLay who said, "Screw the Senate," when he learned Bob Dole had cut a deal with President Bill Clinton to end the government shutdown caused by then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
"We're in charge. We don't have to negotiate with the Senate." Same as above.
"We are ideologues. We have an agenda. We have a philosophy. I want to repeal the Clean Air Act," he said in 1995.
"You don't want me as an enemy," DeLay to Jacqueline Blankenship, wife of a business partner who sued him. When the local Republican sheriff hired Ms. Blankenship, DeLay spent $75,000 to defeat him.
"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 pound[ing] surf below!!!!!" That gem was in a DeLay staff e-mail about Clinton's impeachment.
"I can't afford you as a brother anymore," DeLay to his brother and lawyer Randy after Randy's lobbying had embarrassed him.
"The [Environmental Protection Agency], the Gestapo of government, pure and simply has been one of the major claw-hooks that the government maintains on the backs of our constituents," DeLay said in 1995.
And this truly spectacular outburst just a few weeks ago:
"God has brought to us Terri Schiavo to elevate the visibility of what's going on in America. ... This is exactly the issue that's going on in America of attacks against the conservative movement, against me and against many others. The point is, the other side has figured out how to win and defeat the conservative movement, and that is to go after people personally, charge them with frivolous charges and link that up with all these do-gooder organizations funded by George Soros--and then get the national media on their side. The whole syndicate that they have going on right now is for one purpose and one purpose only, and that's to destroy the conservative movement. It's to destroy the conservative leaders. ... This is a huge nationwide concerted effort to destroy everything we believe in." Whew.
There is much more from DeLay that is unprintable in a newspaper. For some rich samples, try the book "The Hammer: Tom DeLay, God, Money and the United States Congress," co-authored by Lou DuBose, my sometime writing partner.
According to the Associated Press, DeLay has urged Republicans in Congress, when asked about his ethics problems, to blame Democrats. DeLay also said there is a "mammoth operation" funded by Democratic supporters designed to destroy him. People on the right just will not give up this eternal pretense of being victims.
DeLay's unlikely excursion into defining proper conduct came a few days after he had made a comment about the judges in the Schiavo case, which he repeatedly described as murder: "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior." Some picky people thought there was an implied threat or encouragement to violence in that. Even DeLay had to admit he had expressed himself "inartfully."
But, happy to report, DeLay's newfound temperance did not last long. He just keynoted the convention of the National Rifle Association in Houston, where he cheerfully told the audience: "I feel really good. Because when a man is in trouble or in a good fight, you want to have your friends around, preferably armed."
How armed? The NRA is now defending the .50-caliber sniper rifle as a "standard hunting weapon." The manufacturer's brochure for the sniper rifle states that jet engines and helicopters "are likely targets for the weapon, making it capable of destroying a multimillion-dollar aircraft with a single hit delivered to a vital area."
The brochure also states, "Cost effectiveness of the model cannot be overemphasized when a round of ammunition purchased for less than $10 can be used to destroy or disable a modern jet aircraft." That's some bargain, all right.
As to DeLay's claim of a vast left-wing conspiracy out to destroy the conservative movement, nonsense. I like conservatives. They're opposed to all questionable adventures abroad and for fiscal prudence and responsibility. It's right-wing nuts I can't stand.
Rep. Tom DeLay gave a speech yesterday at the NRA convention in Houston. He joked, "When a man is in trouble or in a good fight, you want to have your friends around, preferably armed. So I feel really good." At the conclusion of his remarks, he was presented a Cecil Brooks Original Flintlock Rifle.
DeLay Continues Attacks on Federal Courts
By JESSE J. HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - House Majority Leader Tom DeLay says Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's work from the bench has been "incredibly outrageous," his latest salvo at the federal judiciary in the weeks following the courts' refusal to stop Terri Schiavo's death.
DeLay also labeled a lot of the courts' Republican appointees as "judicial activists," a term applied by conservatives to judges they dislike for not following what they call strict interpretations of the Constitution.
The No. 2 Republican in the House has been openly critical of the federal courts since they refused to order the reinsertion of Schiavo's feeding tube. And he pointed to Kennedy as an example of Republican members of the Supreme Court who were activist and isolated.
"Absolutely. We've got Justice Kennedy writing decisions based upon international law, not the Constitution of the United States? That's just outrageous," DeLay told Fox News Radio on Tuesday. "And not only that, but he said in session that he does his own research on the Internet? That is just incredibly outrageous."
A spokeswoman for the court, Kathy Arberg, said Kennedy could not be reached for comment.
Although Kennedy was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Reagan, a conservative icon, he has aroused conservatives' ire by sometimes agreeing with the court's more liberal members. Nevertheless, it is unusual for a congressional leader to single out a Supreme Court justice for criticism.
Dan Allen, a DeLay spokesman, declined comment on the interview.
Democrats jumped on DeLay's comments Wednesday morning.
"Has the Internet become the devil's workshop?" said Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat. "Is it some infernal machine now that needs to be avoided by all right-thinking Americans? What is Mr. DeLay trying to say, as he is stretching to lash out at judges who happen to disagree with his political point of view."
Sen. Larry Craig (news, bio, voting record), R-Idaho, retorted: "Doesn't the other side have anything to talk about nowadays?"
DeLay also has been criticized for his comments following Schiavo's death, which came despite Congress' passage of a law giving the federal courts jurisdiction to review her case. They declined to intervene.
"The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior," DeLay said in a statement.
He apologized last week, saying he had spoken in an "inartful" way.
Conservatives have been pushing to get the Senate to confirm President Bush's most conservative judicial nominees, which Senate Democrats are blocking. The House has no power over which judges are given lifetime appointments to the federal bench.
However, DeLay has called repeatedly for the House to find a way to hold the federal judiciary accountable for its decisions. "The judiciary has become so activist and so isolated from the American people that it's our job to do that," he said.
One way would be for the House Judiciary Committee to investigate the clause in the Constitution that says "judges can serve as long as they serve with good behavior," he said. "We want to define what good behavior means. And that's where you have to start."
Embattled DeLay At Center Of Fight To Protect MTBE Makers
04-12-05 06:23 PM EST
WASHINGTON (AP)--Embattled House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is being challenged by Democrats on one of his top priorities - protecting makers of the gasoline additive MTBE from liability lawsuits, an issue that blocked energy legislation two years ago.
A draft Republican energy bill would protect MTBE makers, including several major oil and refinery companies in Texas, from lawsuits that contend the manufacturers knew the additive would contaminate drinking water, but pushed to have it widely used anyway.
DeLay, joined by Rep. Joe Barton, a fellow Texas Republican, has been the primary force behind the MTBE provision. It cleared the House two years ago, but prompted such an uproar in the Senate that it scuttled a massive energy bill that was nearing approval.
Democrats said they will try on Wednesday to strip the MTBE provision from a revised energy bill being worked on by Barton's Energy and Commerce Committee. Supporters of the measure said they are confident they can beat back the challenge.
Besides the product liability shield, the draft GOP bill calls for phasing out MTBE use by the end of 2014 and giving manufacturers $1.75 billion in transition assistance. The legislation also calls for expanding the federal program that deals with leaking gasoline storage tanks and funnels more of that money into MTBE cleanup. Democrats say those funds are inadequate to deal with a cleanup task that could eventually affect thousands of communities.
In 2003, Bush administration officials at one point tried to get the MTBE measure taken out of the energy bill, but were rebuffed by DeLay. House Republicans say they are as determined as ever to keep it in this year's legislation.
MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether, is an oxygenate widely used in gasoline to reduce air pollution. But it also has been found to contaminate drinking water supplies, sometimes leaving communities with expensive cleanup bills. Traces of MTBE have been found in water in almost every state, with levels high enough for potential cleanup problems in about half the states.
A number of lawsuits have been filed - and more are expected - that target the MTBE manufacturer and not just the fuel companies and gas stations that cause the MTBE to leak into groundwater. These lawsuits claim the MTBE makers knew the additive could cause pollution problems before it was widely used, and should have withdrawn it.
But DeLay has argued forcefully that the government essentially mandated MTBE use when it passed a 1990 law requiring gasoline to contain 2% oxygen, and that Congress should now help manufacturers transition away from making MTBE and protect them against product liability lawsuits.
"It was something that the government had pushed on these companies," Dan Allen, a DeLay spokesman, said Tuesday, adding that the draft legislation also provides additional money to address MTBE cleanup.
Democrats argue that Congress never required MTBE, only an oxygenate.
"These provisions represent a direct assault on the nation's safe drinking water supply," said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. "MTBE producers have known for years that MTBE was a problem. They should not be asking the taxpayers to now pay for cleanup or for (a) corporate handout."
Many Democrats say the measure amounts to a massive bailout for an industry close to DeLay.
One of the biggest MTBE makers, Lyondell Chemical Co. (LYO), is based in Houston - also DeLay's district - and gave DeLay $16,000 in campaign contributions in the 2003-04 election cycle, while another MTBE maker, Valero Energy Corp. (VLO), also based in Texas, gave DeLay $10,000 in that cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Opponents of the proposed MTBE liability waiver include groups representing mayors, cities, counties and various water districts and agencies as well as environmentalists. They argue that the GOP bill would leave communities and water agencies stuck with cleanup costs.
Some estimates have put those eventual costs as high as $29 billion, a figure the industry disputes.
"There's no reality to the $29 billion number," said Bob Slaughter, president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, whose members include MTBE makers. "It's been inflated wildly to leave the impression that this MTBE problem is a lot more pervasive than it is."
Dow Jones Newswires
10 Ex-G.O.P. Lawmakers Attack Changes in Ethics Rules
By PHILIP SHENON and SHERYL GAY STOLBERG
WASHINGTON, April 14 - Ten former members of Congress, all Republicans, joined in a letter to the House leadership on Thursday to say they believed that revisions in House ethics rules this year were an "obvious action to protect Majority Leader Tom DeLay" from investigation. They said the changes needed to be reversed "to restore public confidence in the People's House."
The letter, to be presented Friday to Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, is signed by Mark Andrews, a former member of both the Senate and the House from North Dakota, and nine other former House Republicans. While it offers no conclusion about the merits of ethics controversies now swirling around Mr. DeLay, it says "the consensus in our respective districts" is that "the previous admonitions to Mr. DeLay for casting discredit on the House were well-merited."
The letter may be another blow to Mr. DeLay, who is under investigation by a grand jury in his home state, Texas, and is facing growing calls from fellow Republicans to answer accusations involving his financial ties to lobbyists and his management of his political and campaign committees.
A spokesman, Dan Allen, said Mr. DeLay would withhold comment on the letter until it had been received in the House. Spokesmen for Mr. Hastert did not immediately return phone calls for comment.
The 10 onetime lawmakers who signed the letter, all of whom left Congress before the late 1980's, described themselves as former members "who served under impeccably honest leaders."
"We offer no judgment on Mr. DeLay's actions in the obtaining of funds and favors from lobbyists and foreign agencies, other than to note that they are the subject of continuing disclosure and discussion well outside the Beltway and in the heart of areas of strong respect for traditional Republican values of honesty and accountability," they said. "We write not as a Revolt of the Elders but in the sincere hope that you will act to restore public confidence in the People's House."
"We felt grave concern," the letter added, "when the Republican leadership changed the ethics rules several weeks ago to require a bipartisan majority vote to even investigate a charge of ethical misconduct. We saw it as an obvious action to protect Majority Leader Tom DeLay."
A copy of the letter, which called on House leaders "to reinstate the old rules," was provided to The New York Times by the Public Campaign Action Fund, a private group that monitors campaign fund-raising and has long been critical of Mr. DeLay.
Mr. DeLay was admonished three times by the House ethics committee last year, in part for appearing to link his support for legislation to political donations. The committee is now effectively shut down, because Democrats object to the rules changes, which make it more difficult to open an investigation. The changes allow an accusation to be dismissed if the panel, which is equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, deadlocks along party lines. In the past, the investigation proceeded if the committee deadlocked.
On Thursday afternoon, Mr. DeLay defended the new rules in a tense and exceptionally formal exchange on the House floor with Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the Democratic whip. Mr. Hoyer complained that the new rules would "preclude the investigator from gathering the facts." Mr. DeLay, on the other hand, maintained that Mr. Hastert had developed the changes with an eye toward shielding lawmakers from unfair allegations.
Apart from Mr. Andrews, those who signed the letter were John H. Buchanan of Alabama, M. Caldwell Butler of Virginia, Paul Findley of Illinois, Bud Hillis of Indiana, James Johnson of Colorado, Richard W. Mallary of Vermont, Wiley Mayne of Iowa, Pete McCloskey of California and G. William Whitehurst of Virginia.
Several were described during their Congressional careers as moderates; the letter was drafted by Mr. McCloskey, who was often described as a Republican maverick and who supported Senator John Kerry last year over President Bush.
In a telephone interview, Mr. McCloskey said he had felt compelled to prepare the letter because of his concern that "if the Republicans circle their wagons around DeLay like they circled their wagons around Richard Nixon, it may have the same result."
The letter was not the only development Thursday with possible implications for the majority leader. Representative George Miller, Democrat of California, asked the House Resources Committee to examine the work of Jack Abramoff, a longtime lobbyist friend of Mr. DeLay, in representing the government of the Northern Mariana Islands, an American commonwealth in the Pacific.
In 1995, Mr. Abramoff, with Mr. DeLay's help, persuaded the House to defeat a bill that would have stripped the Marianas of their exemption from federal minimum wage and immigration laws. From 1996 to 1998, Mr. Miller said, more than 85 members of Congress and Congressional aides, including Mr. DeLay, traveled to the Marianas; Mr. Miller and others have cited news reports suggesting that lobbyists may have paid for the trips, a possible violation of House rules.
Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter VII
Means Used by the Nazi Conspiractors in Gaining Control of the German State
(Part 18 of 55)
F. The Nazi conspirators restricted the independence of the judiciary and rendered it subservient to their ends.
The independence of judges, before the Nazi regime, was guaranteed by the Weimar Constitution. The fundamental principle was stated briefly in Article 102:
"Judges are independent and subject only to the law." (2050-PS)
Article 104 contained a safeguard against the arbitrary removal or suspension of judges, while Article 105 prohibited "exceptional courts". The fundamental rights of the individual are set out in Article 109 and include equality before the law. (2050-PS)
Like all other public officials, German judges who failed to meet Nazi racial and political requirements became the subject of a wide-spread purge. Non-Aryans, political opponents of the Nazis, and all persons suspected of antagonism to the aims of the Party were summarily removed (2967-PS). The provisions of the Law for the Restoration of Professional Civil Service of 7 April 1933 applied to all judges. This was declared expressly in the third regulation for the administration of the law. (2867- PS)
To make certain that cases with political ramifications would be dealt with acceptably and in conformity with Party principles, the Nazis granted designated areas of criminal jurisdiction to the so-called Special Courts (Sondergerhte). These constituted a new system of special criminal courts, independent of the regular judiciary and directly subservient to the Party (2076-PS). A later decree considerably broadened the jurisdiction of these -courts. (2056-PS)
In Contempt of Courts
by Max Blumenthal
Edwin Vieira, a lawyer and author of How to Dethrone the Imperial Judiciary, went even further, suggesting during a panel discussion that Joseph Stalin offered the best method for reining in the Supreme Court. "He had a slogan," Vieira said, "and it worked very well for him whenever he ran into difficulty: 'No man, no problem.'"
The complete Stalin quote is, "Death solves all problems: no man, no problem."
The threatening tenor of the conference speakers was a calculated tactic. As Gary Cass, the director of Rev. D. James Kennedy's lobbying front, the Center for Reclaiming America, explained, they are arousing the anger of their base in order to harness it politically. The rising tide of threats against judges "is understandable," Cass told me, "but we have to take the opportunity to channel that into a constitutional solution."
Cass's "solution" is the "Constitution Restoration Act," a bill relentlessly promoted during the conference that authorizes Congress to impeach judges who fail to abide by "the standard of good behavior" required by the Constitution. If they refuse to acknowledge "God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government," or rely in any way on international law in their rulings, judges also invite impeachment. In essence, the bill would turn judges' gavels into mere instruments of "The Hammer," Tom DeLay, and Christian-right cadres.
The recent right-wing fixation on impeaching judges was conceptualized by David Barton, Republican consultant and vice chairman of the Texas GOP. In 1996 Barton published a handbook called Impeachment: Restraining an Overactive Judiciary, which was timed to coincide with Tom DeLay's bid for legislation authorizing Congress to impeach judges. "The judges need to be intimidated," DeLay told reporters that year.
DeLay Urges GOP to Blame Dems Over Ethics
Tue Apr 12, 6:22 PM ET
By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent
WASHINGTON - House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, hoping to hold support among fellow Republicans, urged GOP senators Tuesday to blame Democrats if asked about his ethics controversy and accused the news media of twisting supportive comments so they sounded like criticism.
Officials said DeLay recommended that senators respond to questions by saying Democrats have no agenda other than partisanship, and are attacking him to prevent Republicans from accomplishing their legislative program. One Republican said the Texan referred to a "mammoth operation" funded by Democratic supporters and designed to destroy him as a symbol of the Republican majority.
DeLay also thanked Sen. Rick Santorum (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa., for his recent comments and said the news media had twisted them to make them sound critical, the officials added, all speaking on condition of anonymity.
In an appearance on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, Santorum said DeLay "has to come forward and lay out what he did and why he did it and let the people then judge for themselves. But from everything I've heard, again, from the comments and responding to those, is everything he's done was according to the law."
The officials who described DeLay's brief remarks noted that the session, a regularly scheduled weekly lunch, was held under rules of secrecy. Dan Allen, DeLay's spokesman, declined comment.
DeLay's case is at the heart of a broader controversy in the House, where Democrats accuse Republicans of unilaterally changing ethics committee rules to prevent any further investigation of DeLay. Republicans have denied the allegation.
The panel arranged a meeting for Wednesday, and Rep. Alan Mollohan (news, bio, voting record) of West Virginia, the senior Democrat, said he would renew a push for a bipartisan rewrite of the rules that Republicans put into effect in January on a party-line vote. Officials in both parties said they knew of no compromise discussions.
One senior Republican spoke sympathetically of DeLay after the closed-door meeting.
"I hope he survives, and I hope he will stay in there and do his job," said Sen. Trent Lott (news, bio, voting record), R-Miss.
"The power of prayer is the only thing that will sustain you" in the circumstance DeLay is in, Lott added, and he spoke disparagingly of any Republicans who fail to stand by the Texan.
"That's the problem, you know, Republicans eat their own. ... Democrats stand by their own until hell freezes over," said Lott, who was ousted as Senate majority leader two years ago after making controversial race-based comments at a birthday party for the late Strom Thurmond.
DeLay was admonished three times last year by the House ethics committee. Recent articles have disclosed that his wife and daughter were paid approximately $500,000 in recent years by political organizations under his control, and have raised questions about the financing of three overseas trips he took.
DeLay has consistently denied any violation of either law or House rules.
His private remarks to Senate Republicans were in keeping with the response frequently offered on his behalf by House Republicans: Blame the Democrats and occasionally the news media for the scrutiny he faces. House Republicans intend to follow the script later in the week, hoping to showcase passage of bankruptcy legislation and estate tax repeal as a counterpoint to Democratic charges that they are merely power-hungry.
Several Republicans stressed that DeLay's appearance at the senators' lunch was routine, noting that GOP leaders of one house have begun attending meetings of the rank and file of the other house in recent weeks.
His remarks were "very low-key. It wasn't demanding or threatening or pounding the table," Lott said afterward.
Historic parallels as DeLay's woes deepen
From Jim Wright to Newt Gingrich, powerful House leaders have become targets of opposition.
By Gail Russell Chaddock | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
WASHINGTON – The gap between what House Republicans say on the record about their embattled leader Tom DeLay and what they say in private is wide but narrowing.
In public, most Republicans say that what's driving the criticism of the House majority leader is politics, not ethics. The Democratic "hit machine" is pouring millions into a campaign to oust the most powerful Republican in Congress. But the real target is the Republican majority and its agenda.
But in private, some senior leaders are saying it's only a matter of time before the most powerful Republican in Congress is forced from office. "Democrats should save their money. Why murder someone who is committing suicide?" said a senior GOP lawmaker, on condition of anonymity.
Over the weekend, such guarded views began to emerge into the public sphere. Rep. Christopher Shays (R) of Connecticut became the first Republican lawmaker to call openly for DeLay's ouster. On ABC's "This Week," GOP Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, another Republican expecting a tough race in 2006, said that DeLay needs to "lay out what he did and why."
It's a battle with historic parallels in an institution where it is not unusual for partisan power struggles to play out as controversies over ethics - with a powerful leader as target. Democrats' focus on DeLay, for example, mirrors the GOP campaign to topple Speaker Jim Wright (D), but on a much wider scale. Minority Republicans, led by Rep. Newt Gingrich, choreographed a "gathering storm" in the media around Mr. Wright, whose fall from power in 1989 was triggered by a book deal with the Teamsters Union. Mr. Gingrich made a special effort to draw good-government groups, such as Common Cause, to the fight.
In recent weeks, Democrats and activists who helped fund the 2004 presidential campaign have created their own "good government" coalitions to target DeLay. Billionaire George Soros's Open Society Institute has contributed some $2.5 million to ethics coalition groups.
"Republicans are suffering from what once helped them gain power," says Marshall Wittman, a former conservative activist now with the Democratic Leadership Council. "While nothing DeLay has done may be illegal, Republicans based their takeover on a revolution to make things different. I was part of it. Now, they're outdoing anything Wright did in terms of power. DeLay has intimidated the whole business community."
Last year, the House ethics committee Rebuked DeLay for the appearance of favorable treatment to a lobbyist, misuse of a federal agency in a Texas redistricting dispute, and an "improper" offer to a colleague in exchange for his vote.
More recently, published reports have questioned travel expenses for DeLay and his staff paid for by lobbyists, and some $500,000 in payments from his political action committee to his wife and daughter.
House ethics rules revised
After the ethics warning, House Republicans dropped their own 10-year-old rule requiring a leader who is criminally indicted to step down, a move they reversed at the beginning of the current Congress. GOP leaders also rallied their caucus around changes in House rules that make it more difficult to launch an ethics investigation, replaced three of the five Republicans on the panel, and fired two top committee staff members.
In protest, Democrats, who have five seats on the 10-seat panel, are refusing to allow the committee to function until the rules are changed.
At the same time, Democratic groups are funding ads in DeLay's Texas district, in conservative newspapers, and major new stations in Washington. Last week, the Campaign for America's Future ran ads in districts of other Republicans, tarring them with DeLay's troubles. Those targeted include Rep. Rob Simmons (R) of Connecticut, Rep. Tom Reynolds (R) of New York, who chairs the Republican National Committee, and Rep. Doc Hastings (R) of Washington, the newly appointed House ethics chairman.
In 1998, GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich - another powerful leader who faced an ethics scandal - resigned after electoral losses signaled that his leadership had become a liability to fellow GOP candidates. There is some evidence that the anti-DeLay media campaigns may take hold. A recent Houston Chronicle poll found that DeLay was losing support in his own district. Democrats say they are prepared to nationally fund a candidate against him in 2006, for the first time.
Mixed views in conservative ranks
While the "gathering storm" has yet to hit local conservative talk radio as it has the national news media, there are also signs that the ethics allegations are beginning to rankle the GOP's conservative base. "Personal ethics are very important to the average evangelical," says the Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president of governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals. "When a person is seen to profit from their political connections, it doesn't speak well for that individual."
But he adds that he is not prepared to call for DeLay's ouster "because of appearances.... There's a benefit of the doubt."
Republicans are trying to rally their base, including key think tanks, to defend the majority leader. "Tom DeLay is a Ronald Reagan Republican and a firm fixture within the conservative movement in our country. These two things - combined with his effective leadership - make him an inviting target to liberals and Democrats, as well as the media elite," according to a set of talking points recently circulated by the Republican National Committee.
It Will be Karl Rove Who Brings Down Tom DeLay, Not the Democrats.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
Oh, yes, there were three House ethics rebukes of Tom DeLay, before he "restructured" the committee so that they couldn't charge him with more unethical behavior. And there's a Democratic Texas D.A. who appears to be within a couple of inches of indicting the reptile from Sugarland. And the Justice Department and House Indian Affairs Committee are investigating activities by lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist tied at the hip to DeLay.
Even the Neanderthal Wall Street Journal editorial board opined that whether DeLay "violated the small print of House ethics or campaign-finance rules is ... largely beside the point. His real fault lies in betraying the broader set of principles that brought him into office, and which, if he continues as before, sooner or later will sweep him out."
And on a Sunday morning news interview show, Rick "Man/Dog" Santorum, a GOP model hypocrite who was one of Gingrich's brown shirts in the House, was even calling on DeLay to come clean.
House Republican stalwarts and DeLay's consultants are blaming the Democrats for DeLay's woes. They sure do know how to play the victim, don't they? DeLay -- who is maddeningly, perhaps psychotically hypocritical -- is like the legendary boy who shot his parents and then pleaded mercy from the court because he was an orphan.
Actually, DeLay is trying to rouse the fundamentalist "end-times" Christian right to his defense by declaring an attack on him is an attack on them. Come to think of it, that's not a bad two-for-one, except DeLay is being accused of crimes and unethical behavior, not religious zealotry worthy of the Salem witch trials. Although, he's guilty of that too.
Considering the free ride Bush's lapses in honesty and executive branch corruption have been given by the mainstream media, you have to wonder why there's such a press pile-up on DeLay. It's fully justified, but why DeLay? I mean the Republican one-party government is crawling with errant snakes.
Well, we said it about the media frenzy surrounding Trent Lott's lauding of Strom Thurmond and we'll say it about Tom DeLay. It's not the Democrats that will bring down Tom DeLay; it's the Executive Branch and the White House that are leaking like a sieve. Karl Rove's fingerprints are all over this knife.
DeLay has forgotten the golden rule: George W. Bush comes before any Republican's personal agenda or power play.
DeLay has forgotten that he doesn't control the judiciary or the media; the White House does.
There's only room for one Godfather among the Busheviks; and Tom DeLay, not content to have the Congress as his concession and stay in the background, is stepping on Karl Rove's carefully crafted image of Bush.
He's raising attacks on the judiciary at a time that such positions are hurting Bush in the polls. Bush may nominate loyal incompetent hacks to the bench -- and renominate them -- but Rove knows how to hide their right wing religious agenda in sheep's clothing.
Karl Rove is sharpening up his cutlery. Tom DeLay ought to be watching his Bushevik backside .
The former exterminator and present "Dioxin brain" has started to cast a shadow on the White House and draw undue attention to the real delusional goals of its inhabitants. His ego has gotten the better of him, and he's forgotten who is the Don of the mob.
Rove is just about ready to pour the cockroach killer all over Tom.
And the man who crawled out from under a rock of immorality can't even see it coming.
A rattler never does.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
Media Matters for America
Conservative media figures on Fox News have portrayed allegations of ethical misconduct by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) as a conspiracy by the "liberal media" to aid Democrats, echoing DeLay's own efforts to defend himself. The most recent revelations concern trips to Moscow, London, and South Korea -- apparently funded by lobbyists attempting to influence congressional business -- in 1997, 2000, and 2001, respectively; and revelations that DeLay's political action and campaign committees have paid his wife and daughter $500,000 since 2001.
Notwithstanding this effort on the part of DeLay's defenders to cast these accusations as a partisan smear campaign, conservative media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal editorial page and Fox News host Bill O'Reilly demonstrate that some conservatives agree that DeLay's alleged conduct raises serious ethical questions. Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks has criticized DeLay staff members and the lobbyist linked to DeLay's foreign trips. A poll of GOP "insiders" also indicates that they increasingly view DeLay as a political liability. Finally, the Congressional Ethics Coalition, a group of organizations that have been highly critical of DeLay, includes the conservative legal organization Judicial Watch and the Campaign Legal Center, whose president, Trevor Potter, is a Republican and served in the George H.W. Bush administration.
The Journal harshly criticized DeLay in a March 28 editorial (which Media Matters for America faulted for other reasons) summarizing many of the charges against him:
The Beltway wisdom is right. Mr. DeLay does have odor issues. Increasingly, he smells just like the Beltway itself. ... Mr. DeLay, who rode to power in 1994 on a wave of revulsion at the everyday ways of big government, has become the living exemplar of some of its worst habits.
Similarly, on the April 6 edition of The Radio Factor, O'Reilly accused DeLay of "exploit[ing] the system":
O'REILLY: All right, how about this Tom DeLay? Paying his wife and daughter $500,000? Wow! What a guy! Congressman from Texas. Very powerful in the House of Representatives, obviously. Got some 'splainin' to do, Tom. ... you Republicans out there, you guys gotta obey the rules. And dancing around the rules, just because you didn't break 'em -- still, a half-million dollars to your wife and daughter -- since 2001 is it? Whoa! So anyway, not a good day for Tom DeLay -- that rhymes. Now, I can't understand guys like DeLay who want to exploit the system.
In a March 22 op-ed in which he condemned the "Masters of Sleaze" led by lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who took part in in DeLay's Moscow and London trips, the Times' Brooks highlighted the corruption of several former members of DeLay's staff:
Ed Buckham, Tom DeLay's former chief of staff, helped run the U.S. Family Network, which supported the American family by accepting large donations and leasing skyboxes at the MCI Center, according to Roll Call. Michael Scanlon, DeLay's former spokesman, organized a think tank called the American International Center, located in a house in Rehoboth Beach, Del., which was occupied, according to Andrew Ferguson's devastating compendium in The Weekly Standard, by a former "lifeguard of the year" and a former yoga instructor.
Finally, as the Los Angeles Times reported on April 3, a new poll indicates that Republican "insiders" may have begun to turn on DeLay in light of the recent allegations: "A new poll by the National Journal magazine of GOP insiders -- dozens of veteran campaign strategists -- found a split opinion on whether DeLay was an asset or liability to the party. Twenty rated him either a major or minor asset, but 21 termed him either a major or minor liability."
Nonetheless, other than O'Reilly, conservatives on Fox News have portrayed the charges as partisan attacks by the liberal media:
Special Report with Brit Hume
On the April 6 edition of Special Report, host Hume teased an upcoming story on DeLay by suggesting that his troubles were an invention of "the press" but that "the facts" would lay suspicion to rest:
HUME: Next on Special Report: President Bush, joined by his two immediate predecessors, pays his personal respects to the late John Paul at the Vatican. ... Here in Washington, the press is after Tom DeLay again, but wait 'til you hear the facts.
Later in the show, Hume introduced the story itself by blaming the "mainstream media" for the renewed focus on DeLay:
HUME: And speaking of Tom DeLay, the mainstream media were out after him again today, focusing on alleged ethical lapses by the Texas Republican. They suggest -- these reports, among other allegations -- that he violated House rules in a privately financed trip to Moscow. Fox News correspondent Major Garrett examines the charges.
The Big Story with John Gibson
On the April 6 edition of Big Story with John Gibson, host John Gibson delivered a teaser similar to Hume's: "The liberal media is hammering 'The Hammer' -- Tom DeLay under a microscope and under the gun. Is this simply a media hit job?" Gibson invited conservative National Review editor Rich Lowry to discuss the new revelations (doubtless to ensure a "fair and balanced" treatment.) Gibson asked Lowry if it is "fair to say that the liberal media is out to get Tom DeLay" and the allegations against DeLay are "A vast left-wing conspiracy." Lowry asserted: "Part of it is that a lot of journalists are liberals and they don't like Tom DeLay or his politics." Even the on-screen text during the segment featured phrases such as "Is the liberal media out to get Tom DeLay?" and "Feeding frenzy?"
Hannity & Colmes
On the April 6 edition of Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity described the most recent charges against DeLay as "liberal allegations" and asked: "Is he the target of a smear campaign?" Former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK) also characterized the allegations against DeLay as partisan: "I think the left has a way of vigorously imposing political correctness, and they viciously punish anyone that doesn't comply. We all know that Tom DeLay is not one that -- that is going to comply." Watts later suggested that the charges against DeLay are likely "frivolous": "I think you usually find ... on the Republican and the Democratic side, at the end of the day, probably 90 percent of the ethics complaints ... are frivolous."
1997 Russia Visit Reportedly Backed by Business Interests
By R. Jeffrey Smith and James V. Grimaldi
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, April 6, 2005; Page A01
A six-day trip to Moscow in 1997 by then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was underwritten by business interests lobbying in support of the Russian government, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the trip arrangements.
DeLay reported that the trip was sponsored by a Washington-based nonprofit organization. But interviews with those involved in planning DeLay's trip say the expenses were covered by a mysterious company registered in the Bahamas that also paid for an intensive $440,000 lobbying campaign.
Lobbyist Julius "Jay" Kaplan, left, shown with Naftasib's Marina Nevskaya and Alexander Koulakovsky, reportedly met with Rep. Tom DeLay in Moscow.
It is unclear precisely how the money was transferred from the Bahamian-registered company to the nonprofit.
The expense-paid trip by DeLay and four of his staff members cost $57,238, according to records filed by his office. During his six days in Moscow, he played golf, met with Russian church leaders and talked to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, a friend of Russian oil and gas executives associated with the lobbying effort.
DeLay also dined with the Russian executives and two Washington-based registered lobbyists for the Bahamian-registered company, sources say. One of those lobbyists was Jack Abramoff, who is now at the center of a federal influence-peddling and corruption probe related to his representation of Indian tribes.
House members bear some responsibility to ensure that the sponsors for their travel are not masquerading for registered lobbyists or foreign government interests, legal experts say. House ethics rules bar the acceptance of travel reimbursement from registered lobbyists and foreign agents.
In this case, travel funds did not come directly from lobbyists; the money came from a firm, Chelsea Commercial Enterprises Ltd., that funded the lobbying campaign, according to the sources. Chelsea was coordinating the effort with a Russian oil and gas company -- Naftasib -- that has business ties with Russian security institutions, the sources said.
Aides to DeLay, who is now the House majority leader, said that despite the presence during the trip of the two registered lobbyists, DeLay thought the nonprofit organization -- the National Center for Public Policy Research -- was funding the trip on its own. Suggestions to the contrary have come to light in media reports only in the past few weeks, an aide said.
"The trip was initiated by the National Center," spokesman Dan Allen said, "and they were the ones who organized it, planned it and paid for it." Sources connected to the trip say, however, that Abramoff, acting at the behest of his Russian-connected client, Chelsea, brought the idea to the center.
Questions on Three Trips
The 1997 Moscow trip is the third foreign trip by DeLay to be scrutinized in recent weeks because of new statements by those involved that his travel was directly or indirectly financed by registered lobbyists or a foreign agent.
Media attention focused on DeLay's travel last month after The Washington Post reported on DeLay's participation in a $70,000 expense-paid trip to London and Scotland in 2000 that sources said was indirectly financed in part by an Indian tribe and a gambling services company. A few days earlier, media attention had focused on a $106,921 trip DeLay took to South Korea in 2001 that was financed by a tax-exempt group created by a lobbyist on behalf of a Korean businessman.
DeLay on March 18 portrayed criticism of his trips and close ties to lobbyists as the product of a conspiracy to "destroy the conservative movement" by attacking its leaders, such as himself. "This is a huge, nationwide, concerted effort to destroy everything we believe in," DeLay told supporters at the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group.
The three foreign trips at issue share common elements. The sponsor of the Moscow trip, the Capitol Hill-based National Center for Public Policy Research, also sponsored the later London trip. The center is a conservative group that solicits corporate, foundation and individual donations.
Also, Abramoff not only joined DeLay in Moscow but also helped organize DeLay's subsequent London trip. Abramoff also filed expense reports indicating he paid for some of DeLay's hotel bill in London, according to a copy obtained by The Post.
Edwin A. Buckham, who was DeLay's chief of staff in 1997 and then became a Washington lobbyist for major corporations, participated in two of the three trips. In 1997, he visited Moscow twice -- once with DeLay -- and on one of these trips he returned via Paris aboard a Concorde jet with a ticket he told the Associated Press in 1998 had been financed by the National Center.
Buckham also joined DeLay on the Korea trip. Buckham did not respond to messages left by The Post.
Untangling the origin of the Moscow trip's financing is complicated by questions about the ownership and origins of Chelsea, the obscure Bahamian-registered company that financed the lobbying effort in favor of the Russian government that targeted Republicans in Washington in 1997 and 1998. Those involved in this effort also prepared and coordinated the DeLay visit, individuals with direct knowledge about it said.
In that period, prominent Russian businessmen, as well as the Russian government, depended heavily on a flow of billions of dollars in annual Western aid and so had good reason to build bridges to Congress. House Republicans were becoming increasingly critical of U.S. and international lending institutions, such as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the International Monetary Fund, which were then investing heavily in Russia's fragile economy.
Unlike some House conservatives who scorn such support as "corporate welfare," DeLay proved to be a "yes" vote for institutions bolstering Russia in this period. For example, DeLay voted for a bill that included the replenishment of billions of dollars in IMF funds used to bail out the Russian economy in 1998.
A DeLay aide said he tried to reform these institutions through the legislative process. DeLay voted to fund these agencies because their financing was usually included in appropriation bills that he generally supported, the aide said. They also noted that OPIC had the strong backing of the energy industry, including companies from Texas that received OPIC financing.
Meetings in Moscow
The Russian campaign is detailed in disclosures filed with the House by lobbyists. Those records state that Chelsea, with an address listed variously as a post office box on the British island of Jersey -- a tax haven off the French coast -- or a law firm in the Bahamas, paid at least $440,000 to fund lobbying aimed at building "support for policies of the Russian government for progressive market reforms and trade with the United States," according to lobbying registration documents.
The Washington offices of two lobbying and law firms collected the fees. Preston Gates Ellis and Rouvelas Meeds LLP -- where Abramoff then worked -- received $260,000 in 1997 and less than $10,000 in 1998; Cadwalader Wickersham and Taft LLP was paid $180,000 in 1997 and less than $10,000 annually for the next three years, according to the registrations. Their listed lobbying targets included members of the House and Senate and officials of the State Department and the Agency for International Development.
"One of the functions of the lobbying effort was to encourage U.S. policymakers to visit Russia and to learn more about Russia," Ellen S. Levinson, a lobbyist then working on the Chelsea account at Cadwalader, said in an e-mailed response to questions.
She said Preston Gates used its "contacts with policy institutes and congressional offices" to arrange these trips. Preston Gates said in a written statement that it does not comment on its work for clients.
In a Cadwalader memo dated May 6, 1997, and obtained by The Post from another source, Levinson depicted the DeLay trip as one of six organized that year as part of the lobbying effort. Others included an "advance team" that visited Moscow later that month and a visit by "think tank" experts in June. A copy of the memo was sent to Abramoff.
A total of six members of the two lobbying firms participated in these trips, according to those involved. Levinson and two Preston Gates lobbyists were members of the "advance team."
During the third visit, Cadwalader lobbyist Julius "Jay" Kaplan joined DeLay and Abramoff at a "fancy dinner" in Moscow, according to one of those present -- a circumstance first reported last month in an article about the trip in National Journal's Congress Daily.
Breaking with traditional practice for congressmen traveling overseas, DeLay did not contact the State Department in advance or meet with officials at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow regarding his meeting with Chernomyrdin, according to a department spokeswoman who said she checked with 10 people at the embassy then or responsible for facilitating congressional trips.
Allen, DeLay's spokesman, said the State Department was not contacted because "the National Center was responsible for the arrangements on the trip, including setting up the meetings. Beyond that, members of Congress aren't required to have the State Department present at meetings with leaders from other countries."
Last month, Amy Ridenour, director of the National Center, posted a statement on her organization's Web site in response to questions about DeLay's trip to Russia stating that the center itself had "sponsored and paid" for all the expenses associated with it. Ridenour and her husband also took part in the visit.
But a person familiar with planning for the trip said Abramoff -- who has long been close to DeLay -- approached the National Center with the idea for the trip on behalf of Kaplan and his client, Chelsea. That person said the expenses by the center were in turn replenished by "an American trust account affiliated with a law firm" that the person declined to name.
Kaplan declined to be quoted for this article, citing what he called "lawyer-client privilege." But another person with direct knowledge about the trip arrangements said that it was Chelsea -- which had the registered Washington lobbyists in its employ -- that "gave the money to NCPPR to pay for the trip."
This person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect his business interests, added: "I didn't see anything wrong there. All these foundations get money from somewhere, and they give it out." Moreover, the source said, "this was the Russians' way of doing business then -- moving money from one firm to another."
Who Financed Travel?
The question is: Who stood behind Chelsea, and thus ultimately financed the trip? A regular office for the firm could not be located by The Post, in Moscow or at its two listed addresses; its Bahamian registration ended in 2000, officials there said. Efforts by The Post to find the three men -- one Belgian, one British, one Russian -- named in lobbying registrations as Chelsea investors or owners in lobbying disclosures were unsuccessful.
A spokeswoman for Cadwalader, Paula Zirinsky, said the firm had no contact information for anyone from Chelsea, because "persons that worked on that matter have not been with the firm since 1997." Jonathan Blank, managing partner of the Washington office for Preston Gates, similarly said his firm had no current contact information for Chelsea.
In interviews, however, five individuals with direct knowledge of the lobbying effort separately described executives of a diversified Russian energy firm known as Naftasib as being intimately involved in the lobbying.
Naftasib, which oversees interests in mining, oil and gas, construction and other enterprises from a four-story unmarked building in downtown Moscow, says it is a separate company from Chelsea but acknowledges seeking to cultivate friends in Washington in 1997.
In a written statement issued Friday in response to questions from The Post, Marina Nevskaya, Naftasib's deputy general manager, explained that her firm "wanted to foster better understanding between our country and the United States, and felt that if these trips were successful they would foster a better overall climate that could ultimately benefit Naftasib as well as other Russian enterprises."
Nevskaya said her company "did not finance in any manner" the DeLay trip or the others described in Levinson's memo. But she said Naftasib "did host and pay for some dinners for participants in some of the trips, organized a few other special events . . . and may have provided minor courtesies, such as some auto pickups and dropoffs for some visitors during one or more of the trips."
She also acknowledged providing "advice about trip logistics" before they occurred and meeting trip participants. Nevskaya did not offer details, but those involved in organizing DeLay's trip said he met with Nevskaya and was escorted around Moscow by the general manager of Naftasib, Alexander Koulakovsky. DeLay has also met with Nevskaya and Koulakovsky in Washington since then, according to several sources with direct knowledge of the contact.
During the June 1997 trip to Moscow by "think tank" experts -- one of the scheduled visits listed in Levinson's memo -- several participants said they got the impression that Preston Gates was the organizer, Naftasib was the ultimate financier and that the trip was a dry run for DeLay's visit.
"It was done through or under the auspices of NCPPR," said Bart Adams, a North Carolina journalist who joined the expense-paid trip. But he said he recalls hearing that "the money was coming from a Russian oil company."
David Lowe, an official at the National Endowment for Democracy, said he was recruited to join the trip by the Preston Gates firm; former Senate aide James P. Lucier, who also was on the trip, said Naftasib's executives played such a large role that they "seemed to be the clients of Preston Gates," a claim the firm denies. "Some American investment or tie was the end goal," said a third participant, "and the plan was to bring over some congressmen" later.
A publicist who works for Abramoff attorney Abbe David Lowell said Abramoff did lobby for Chelsea but not for Naftasib. The publicist said Abramoff thought "bringing a greater understanding of Russia to American decision makers was and is good for America."
The efforts by Naftasib's executives to curry favor among Republicans -- including DeLay -- sowed controversy at the time among conservatives. A journal published by a Washington think tank, the American Foreign Policy Council, claimed within a few days after DeLay's trip ended that it was actually "sponsored" by Naftasib. The journal -- the Russian Reform Monitor -- also highlighted what it characterized as Naftasib's tight connections to the Russian security establishment.
The journal quoted promotional literature for Naftasib that described the firm as a major shareholder in Gazprom, the state-controlled oil and gas giant. The literature also said Natfasib's largest clients were the ministries of defense and internal affairs. The literature also states that Nevskaya was an instructor at a school for Russian military intelligence officers. She declined to address those claims in response to questions from The Post.
Steve Biegun, who was then a senior Russia expert for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and later served as executive secretary to the National Security Council during President Bush's first term, said he deliberately blocked a meeting that Nevskaya sought with Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), then the committee chairman.
"They were a client of the lobbying firm Preston Gates," said Biegun, who is now a Ford Motor Co. vice president for international governmental affairs. "I made some calls . . . and got enough warning signs" to ensure that Helms avoided dealing with the firm. Biegun said the information he obtained from his sources was "nothing that would stand up in court" but he worried that in this period, "a lot of unsavory figures from Russia were buying their way into meetings and getting their pictures taken, to put on the wall back in Moscow."
"I just had my doubts, and nobody did anything to allay them," Biegun said. "I did not know who either of them really were."
Asked to comment, Blank, Preston Gates's Washington managing partner, said in a written statement: "Chelsea was our only client. Naftasib was not our client. We did work with Naftasib representatives when their interests coincided with our client's." Blank added that "we are confident that the individuals still with the firm who were involved at the time acted ethically, appropriately, and in service of the client."
Abramoff left Preston Gates at the end of 2000.
By PHILIP SHENON
WASHINGTON, April 5 - The wife and daughter of Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, have been paid more than $500,000 since 2001 by Mr. DeLay's political action and campaign committees, according to a detailed review of disclosure statements filed with the Federal Election Commission and separate fund-raising records in Mr. DeLay's home state, Texas.
Most of the payments to his wife, Christine A. DeLay, and his only child, Dani DeLay Ferro, were described in the disclosure forms as "fund-raising fees," "campaign management" or "payroll," with no additional details about how they earned the money. The payments appear to reflect what Mr. DeLay's aides say is the central role played by the majority leader's wife and daughter in his political career.
Tom DeLay of Texas and his wife, Christine, who has been paid by his political action committee.
Mr. DeLay's national political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority, or Armpac, said in a statement on Tuesday that the two women had provided valuable services to the committee in exchange for the payments: "Mrs. DeLay provides big picture, long-term strategic guidance and helps with personnel decisions. Ms. Ferro is a skilled and experienced professional event planner who assists Armpac in arranging and organizing individual events."
Mrs. Ferro has managed several of her father's re-election campaigns for his House seat.
His spokesman said that Mr. DeLay had no additional comment. Although several members of Congress employ family members as campaign managers or on their political action committees, advocacy groups seeking an overhaul of federal campaign-finance and ethics laws say that the payments to Mr. DeLay's family members were unusually generous, and should be the focus of new scrutiny of the Texas congressman.
Mr. DeLay, whose position as majority leader makes him the second-most-powerful House member, has offered a vigorous public defense in recent weeks to a flurry of ethics accusations from Democratic lawmakers and campaign watchdog groups, including charges that he violated House rules on travel. The executive director of Americans for a Republican Majority and a major fund-raiser for the committee were indicted in Texas last year on charges of illegal fund-raising, and prosecutors there have refused to rule out the possibility of charges against Mr. DeLay in the continuing inquiry.
In recent weeks, public interest groups have called on the House ethics committee and the Justice Department to review lavish, privately financed overseas trips for Mr. DeLay and his aides, including a 1997 trip to Russia that was underwritten by a conservative education group closely linked to a powerful Republican lobbyist who often boasted of his influence with the majority leader.
The payments to Mr. DeLay's family have continued into 2005; the latest monthly disclosure filed by Americans for a Republican Majority shows Mrs. DeLay was paid was paid $4,028 last month, while Mrs. Ferro received $3,681. Earlier statements show that the two women received similar monthly fees from the political action committee throughout 2003 and 2004.
Mrs. DeLay has been involved in her husband's political career and his fund-raising operations in Washington and Texas. In an interview in 2003 with Roll Call, a newspaper on Capitol Hill, a spokesman for Mr. DeLay explained Mrs. DeLay's role as "the final signoff of Tom's travel schedule, what events he attends and what his name appears on."
Mrs. Ferro has also helped manage Mr. DeLay's charity operations. Financial disclosure statements filed by Mr. DeLay's House campaign committees, which are separate from Americans for a Republican Majority, show that Mrs. Ferro and her political consulting firm, Coastal Consulting of Sugar Land, Tex., received $222,000 from 2001 through last year, reflecting her role in the re-election campaigns.
Although there has been no suggestion from prosecutors that Mrs. Ferro is under investigation by the grand jury in Austin, her records were subpoenaed in the inquiry, which is focused on the fund-raising activities of Texans for a Republican Majority, a state political action committee modeled on Americans for a Republican Majority. Mrs. Ferro received about $30,000 in fund-raising and consulting fees from Texans for a Republican Majority, the committee's records show.
"It's DeLay Inc. " said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a research group that has closely monitored Mr. DeLay and his campaign fund-raising and expenditures. "If it's not illegal, it certainly is inappropriate for members of Congress to use their positions to enrich their families."
Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics and a former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission, said that "questions are raised anytime a politician puts close family members on the payroll."
Republican lawmakers can point to prominent Democrats whose campaign and political action committees have provided lucrative jobs or consulting contracts to family members. Representative Howard L. Berman of California, the ranking Democrat on the House ethics committee from 1997 to 2003, paid $50,000 from his campaign accounts last year to a consulting firm owned by his brother, according to disclosure forms. Disclosure statements also show that Senator Barbara Boxer, another California Democrat, directed $15,000 from her political action committee in 2003 to a consulting firm run by her son.
Several public interest groups have called in recent weeks for the House ethics committee or another body that may be examining his finances to open an investigation of Mr. DeLay, focused in part on his privately financed overseas travels, including the 1997 trip to Moscow and a 2000 trip to Britain. Questions about the trips' financing were first raised in March in an article in the National Journal.
Mr. DeLay has denied that he violated House rules in accepting the 2000 trip from a conservative education group associated with one of the city's most powerful Republican lobbyists, Jack Abramoff.
The nonprofit education group, the National Center for Public Policy Research, has said it received large contributions from Mr. Abramoff's clients about the time of the trips, although it has denied that the donations were redirected to finance Mr. DeLay's travels.
The trip to Moscow, according to the American Foreign Policy Council report, was backed by the energy companies that had ties to the Russian government and that were trying to build support in Washington for Russian privatization efforts and trade policies.
Mr. DeLay met with Russian business and political leaders. House financial disclosure statements show that Mr. DeLay's travel costs totaled $9,029 and that the costs for five members of his staff totaled $55,033. It listed the sponsor as the National Center for Public Policy Research.
Bobby R. Burchfield, a lawyer for Mr. DeLay, declined to comment, as did the National Center for Public Policy Research. Jonathan Blank, managing partner at Preston Gates & Ellis in Washington, said the firm had represented Chelsea but would not discuss whether the organization had helped pay for Mr. DeLay's trip.
Dan Allen, a spokesman for Mr. DeLay, said the congressman had filed forms stating that the Moscow and Britain trips were paid by the National Center for Public Policy Research.
Eric Lipton and Monica Borkowski contributed reporting for this article.
Run Against DeLay
He's ethically challenged, he's fiercely defending a position on the Terri Schiavo case which is deeply unpopular and, it turns out, he wants to neuter the judiciary as an independent branch of government, as I learned in this fascinating article in the Dallas Morning News (registration required):
In 1996, Mr. DeLay argued for using impeachment to police and steer the federal bench. The next year, he said "judges need to be intimidated" to ensure that they uphold the Constitution. In mid-2003, he created the House Working Group on Judicial Accountability, a GOP task force that would scour the work of federal judges and "take no prisoners."
The House has impeached a dozen judges, most recently in 1989. The Senate removed seven and another resigned. But not since the republic's early days have political disagreements been used as justification.
The Constitution allows for impeachment for treason, bribery or other "high crimes and misdemeanors." Lifetime tenure is guaranteed "during good behaviour." Mr. DeLay has argued that defying Congress would breach this rule, though few legal scholars or lawmakers embrace that view.
At a news conference Friday, DeLay condemned the judges in the Schiavo case --- all 40 of them, including, apparently staunch conservative Stanley Birch --- of being "an arrogant, out-of-control, unaccountable judiciary that thumbed their nose at Congress and the president" (note to DeLay and others whining about 'judicial activism': when 40 judges including Birch rule against you, you're probably on the wrong side of the issue). This statement echoes DeLay's fundamental belief that the courts should be subordinate to the other two branches of government.
I doubt that most Republicans feel this way. Clearly they want to stack the courts with conservative judges, and clearly they're willing to go to nearly any lengths to achieve this goal. But I'm guessing that Republicans are pushing this because they hope those judges will rule in a manner they approve of, and not because they expect a rubber stamp for the conservative agenda.
But a rubber stamp is clearly what DeLay wants. Democrats should do everything they can to convince the public that his are the views of the mainstream Republican party.
By GLEN JUSTICE
WASHINGTON, March 29 - For more than a decade, Representative Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, has devoted himself to cultivating Republican allies along Washington's K Street lobbying corridor.
By promoting Republicans for top jobs and recruiting partners to push legislation and raise money, Mr. DeLay has built an unusually powerful network. That network has helped him increase the Republican majority in Congress, pass business-friendly legislation and collect more than $25 million since 1994, according to PoliticalMoneyLine, which tracks campaign finance.
But a series of criminal investigations, court cases and ethical inquiries have turned what was once a potent collection of allies into potential liabilities. A half-dozen people connected to Mr. DeLay have come under official scrutiny. Others, like a group of Mr. DeLay's friends and advisers at Alexander Strategy Group, have drawn attention after a client financed an expensive South Korea trip, including Mr. DeLay, that has raised ethical questions.
The problems of Mr. DeLay's associates have renewed criticism about his aggressive networking and fund-raising, criticism that Mr. DeLay has long dismissed as partisan attacks.
"Tom tends to push things to the very outer limit," said Representative Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican who has often opposed Mr. DeLay. "When you push things to the outer limit, you give your detractors the opportunity to criticize you and make charges against you."
Two left-leaning groups intend to do just that in tough advertising campaigns that attack the majority leader and highlight the scandals involving his former aides and advisers.
The Campaign for America's Future, which is calling for Mr. DeLay's resignation, is spending about $75,000 to run commercials in the majority leader's home district in Texas. The advertisement opens with a man wearing cuff links and a Rolex watch walking down the stairs into a basement, where he begins washing his hands. An announcer ticks off cases surrounding Mr. DeLay as the figure tries harder and harder to get clean.
"Tom DeLay can't wash his hands of corruption by involving Congress in one family's personal tragedy," an announcer says, referring to Mr. DeLay's involvement in the Terri Schiavo case. "But Congress can certainly wash its hands of Tom DeLay."
The Public Campaign Action Fund is spending $25,000 to pressure Republican lawmakers to denounce Mr. DeLay. Those drawing attention include Representative Doc Hastings of Washington, the chairman of the House ethics committee, and Representative Thomas M. Reynolds of New York, who heads fund-raising for House Republicans.
The commercial involving Mr. Hastings exhorts him to "do your job and clean up Congress without delay."
Ellen Miller, deputy director at the Campaign for America's Future, said the group was focused on ethical issues throughout Congress.
"As with fish, rot starts at the head," Ms. Miller said. "The litany of complaints concerning ethical lapses by Tom DeLay have reached a point where somebody has to stand up and say, 'Wait a minute.' "
Officials in Mr. DeLay's office were quick to depict the commercials as partisan attacks, noting that the Campaign for America's Future has in the past received money from George Soros, the philanthropist and financier who gave millions of dollars to support Democrats in last November's elections. Records show Mr. Soros gave $300,000 to a committee run by the organization last year.
"This is one more front group for Nancy Pelosi and Democratic heavy hitters like George Soros," said Dan Allen, a spokesman for Mr. DeLay. "They are attacking the House Republicans in an attempt to bring the House down."
During Mr. Delay's 20 years in Congress, his office has became a breeding ground for high-powered K Street consultants. Many top aides have graduated from his staff to set up shop on K Street, where a close relationship with a powerful lawmaker can draw a top post or lucrative clients. Former DeLay aides have represented major companies, including Citigroup, Fidelity Investments and Federal Express.
The lobbyists, in turn, have helped Mr. DeLay raise millions of dollars to increase the Republican majority in the House and push the party's agenda. One lobbyist organized a $150,000 fund-raiser at a golf retreat just weeks after leaving Mr. DeLay's office. Another helped run a group intended to raise millions of dollars in unlimited contributions to get around restrictive new campaign finance laws.
"It is the hallmark of a very savvy member of Congress to see the departure of staff as an asset and not a detriment," said Jade West, a Republican lobbyist with the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors. "They are building contacts and networks to the good of both sides. Tom has done that as well as anyone."
Part of Mr. DeLay's network was the Alexander Strategy Group, a lobbying firm on the Potomac River waterfront in Georgetown. The firm was founded by Edwin A. Buckham, Mr. DeLay's former chief of staff. Several former aides have signed on in recent years, including Tony C. Rudy, who served Mr. DeLay in several capacities, and Karl Gallant, who headed his political action committee.
The firm has had a long list of top-shelf clients, including BellSouth, Eli Lilly, Microsoft, Koch Industries and MGM Mirage, and Mr. Buckham and his colleagues are among Mr. DeLay's inner circle of advisers. In fact, Mr. DeLay's political action committee paid the firm more than $300,000 for fund-raising and consulting services from 2000 to 2003, according to the Center for Public Integrity.
Alexander Strategy clients over the years have benefited from favorable legislation passed by Congress. And some clients have had direct access to Mr. DeLay to hear their concerns. Among them was the Korea-U.S. Exchange Council, which was created to promote Seung Youn Kim, chairman of the Hanwha Group, a South Korean conglomerate. Universal Bearing, an Indiana company owned by Hanwha, has paid Alexander Strategy $600,000 since 2001, lobbying records show.
When Mr. DeLay, his wife and other lawmakers took a four-day trip to South Korea in 2001, the Korea-U.S. Exchange Council picked up the $28,000 bill, travel records show. The trip came under scrutiny by the news media in recent weeks because the Exchange Council was registered with the Department of Justice as a "foreign agent," meaning it represents organizations outside the country. House rules do not allow such foreign agents to finance Congressional travel. Mr. DeLay has said he was unaware of the foreign agent designation.
Mr. Buckham and others at Alexander Strategy did not return calls.
Among the cases involving other DeLay associates is one in which three former aides were indicted by a grand jury in Texas last year on charges of illegal fund-raising. The Texas prosecutor, a Democrat, has refused to rule out criminal charges against Mr. DeLay. An indictment would require him to step down as majority leader.
Another former DeLay staff member, Michael S. Scanlon, is under investigation alongside a lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, in a case involving lobbying activities for Indian tribes. Several government agencies are involved in the inquiry, and Congress is also investigating.
In another case, Mr. DeLay was admonished by the House ethics committee last year for a fund-raiser that a former aide helped to organize.
Drew Maloney stepped down as Mr. DeLay's former legislative director in March 2002 and is now a lobbyist with the Federalist Group, where he has represented energy clients, records show.
Just one month after leaving Mr. DeLay's office, Mr. Maloney was working with the lawmaker's daughter, Dani DeLay Ferro, to organize a small two-day fund-raiser for energy companies at the Homestead, a golf resort in Hot Springs, Va., according to Congressional documents.
The event, which included meals and a round of golf with Mr. DeLay and his staff, was held as energy legislation was headed into a conference committee, where lawmakers in the House and Senate would work out a final bill. The event raised about $152,500 for committees connected to Mr. Delay, according to Congressional documents.
The House ethics committee called Mr. DeLay's actions "objectionable."
"At a minimum, they created an appearance that donors were being provided special access to you regarding the then-pending energy legislation," committee leaders said in a letter to Mr. DeLay last year.
Mr. DeLay's allies are undaunted by the investigations and other cases, echoing his argument that they are politically motivated.
"The reason they are firing the big bullets at Tom DeLay is that it is vital to the political opposition to take him out," said Bill Paxon, a former New York representative who now works as a lobbyist. "That's what the current furor is about."
Democrats say that Mr. DeLay's aggressive style over the years has come back to haunt him and that the sheer number of cases involving his former advisers might lead to his downfall.
"You can't complain of partisanship when you are one of Congress's leading partisans," said John Jonas, a Democratic lobbyist. "This is somebody who has contributed to the sharp and bitter partisan environment in Washington. There's not much credibility in his claim."