|Tom DeLay- Corporate Whore|
A PAC erects signs questioning majority leader's overseas golf trek
By MATT STILES
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle
Think the sniping over U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay's ethics might fade away anytime soon?
Read the signs.
A left-leaning political action committee brought the simmering D.C. Beltway battle to the U.S. House majority leader's home turf this week, posting two billboards criticizing him near area roadways.
The signs, erected south of downtown Houston and in La Marque, read: "Lobbyists sent Tom DeLay golfing; all you got was this billboard."
With a photograph of a putting golfer, the signs reference questions that have dogged the Sugar Land Republican for weeks about whether he improperly took overseas trips paid for by lobbyists.
"It's important for us to expose Tom DeLay's ethical lapses," said Noreen Nielsen, communications director for Democracy for America, which paid for the ads. "It's a fun way to get the message out." The group also ran radio ads last year in support of DeLay's Democratic challenger, Sugar Land lawyer Richard Morrison.
Activists rally Tuesday at the unveiling of a billboard near downtown about House Majority Leader Tom DeLay-R, Sugar Land.
Dismissed as a stunt
DeLay's supporters dismiss the effort as a political stunt by a group that Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean founded. They say the ads won't hurt a politician who enjoys broad support in his 22nd Congressional District, which includes parts of Harris, Brazoria, Galveston and Fort Bend counties.
"This is northeastern liberal Democrats trying to come in and have an influence," said Harris County Republican Party Chairman Jared Woodfill. "He's effective in defeating the liberal agenda. If he wasn't having success, he wouldn't be attacked."
DeLay has denied that he broke House rules when he took a trip to Great Britain that included golf at St. Andrews in Scotland. His supporters have said a nonprofit conservative group, the National Center for Public Policy Research, paid for the trip. But media investigations have found that some of DeLay's expenses were charged to a lobbyist's credit card.
The possibility that ethical questions might make DeLay politically vulnerable are whetting the appetites of potential Democratic challengers to the 11-term congressman, even though the district has a strong Republican voting history likely to make DeLay the favorite no matter who his opponent is.
Houston City Council member Gordon Quan announced Tuesday that he's taking formal steps toward seeking the 2006 Democratic nomination. Former U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson of Beaumont plans to file formally today.
"The message, basically, is not just about Tom DeLay, but general dissatisfaction with corruption in politics," said Leah Burris, a leader in Democracy for Houston, an arm of the national group that helped plan the billboards.
Others don't see it that way.
"This is silly. This is a pathetic joke," said Chris Stevens, who chairs the Republican Party in Galveston County, where another billboard went up Monday. "Who cares? He went golfing."
Searching for a slogan
The billboard's slogan evolved after the group urged visitors on its Web site to submit ideas. The group, which says it supports fiscally responsible, socially progressive candidates at all levels of government, got more than 20,000 submissions, Nielson said.
Nielsen, who wouldn't reveal the billboards' cost, said they would remain for a month.
Comments: Post a Comment