Tom DeLay- Corporate Whore

Probe of lobbyist heats up in capital
Investigators focus on lawmakers, officials in federal agencies

By Susan Schmidt and James V. Grimaldi
The Washington Post
Published November 26, 2005

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department's wide-ranging investigation of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff has entered a highly active phase as prosecutors are beginning to move on evidence pointing to possible corruption in Congress and executive branch agencies, lawyers involved in the case said.

Prosecutors already have told Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) and his former chief of staff that they are preparing a possible bribery case against them, according to two sources knowledgeable about the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The 35 to 40 investigators and prosecutors on the Abramoff case are focused on at least half a dozen members of Congress, lawyers and others close to the probe said. The investigators are looking at payments made by Abramoff and his colleagues to the wives of some lawmakers and at actions taken by senior Capitol Hill aides, some of whom went to work for Abramoff at the law firm Greenberg Traurig LLP, lawyers and others familiar with the probe said.

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican, is one of the members under scrutiny, the sources said. Others include Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.) and several other members of Congress involved with Indian affairs, one of Abramoff's key areas of interest.

An attorney for DeLay, whose wife worked for a lobbying firm that received client referrals from Abramoff, said there was no connection between her work and congressional business. A spokesman for Doolittle, whose wife received payments from Abramoff's lobbying firm, also said there was no connection with her husband's position. Burns' office has said his actions were consistent with his support for improving conditions for Indian tribes.

Ney is the congressman whose name has surfaced most prominently in the Abramoff probe. His spokesman and attorney have said for weeks that Ney has not been told he is a target of the inquiry, even while acknowledging that his office has received a grand jury subpoena.

However, the sources said that during the third week of October prosecutors told Ney and his former chief of staff, Neil Volz, that they were preparing a bribery case based in part on activities that occurred in October 2000. Abramoff and another business partner, Adam Kidan, also were told they are targets in that case, the sources said.

Prosecutors sought and received a waiver of the five-year statute of limitations deadline--which would have been last month--from all four men while they continue their investigation, the sources said. Prosecutors often are able to obtain such waivers by giving the targets a choice of being indicted right away or granting more time to see if information might surface that exonerates them.

Ney's attorney, Mark Tuohey, did not return calls seeking comment on the waiver. Ney spokesman Brian Walsh said the office had no comment, as did a lawyer for Volz.

The attorneys of Abramoff and Kidan did not return calls seeking comment.

The events in 2000 that interest investigators are connected to the purchase by Abramoff and Kidan of SunCruz Casinos, owner of a fleet of Florida gambling boats. Ney twice placed comments in the Congressional Record about SunCruz, first criticizing its former owner when Abramoff and Kidan were in difficult purchase negotiations, then, in October, praising Kidan's new management.

Abramoff and Kidan are facing trial in January on charges they defrauded lenders in their purchase of the casino boats.

Investigators also are looking into Abramoff's influence with Interior Department and other executive branch officials.

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DeLay Case Judge Declines Immediate Ruling

By KELLEY SHANNON, Associated Press Writer
Tue Nov 22, 5:56 PM ET

AUSTIN, Texas - Hoping to regain his post as House majority leader when Congress reconvenes in January, Rep. Tom DeLay asked a judge Tuesday to throw out the campaign-finance case against him.

However, the judge said that the Republican congressman will have to wait until at least December for a decision, and that the conspiracy and money-laundering case would probably not go to trial before the first of the year.

DeLay and two Republican fundraisers are accused of illegally funneling $190,000 in corporate donations to GOP candidates for the Texas Legislature. The direct use of corporate money for political purposes is illegal in Texas.

DeLay attorney Dick DeGuerin argued that the conspiracy charges were based on a law that was not even on the books when the alleged conspiracy happened.

But prosecutor Rick Reed disputed that, saying that the Legislature was just clarifying the law in 2003 and that state law has long defined conspiracy as an agreement to commit any felony.

DeLay wants the charges dismissed or resolved in his favor by January. Under House rules, he was forced to give up his leadership post after he was charged with a felony. But he could regain it if he is cleared before Congress returns.

However, Judge Pat Priest said he wants to read written arguments from both sides before making his ruling. He gave attorneys one week to file their arguments, and said he would probably make his decision a week after that.

"I doubt very seriously we're going to get to trial before the first of the year," Priest said.

DeGuerin said "we're ready now" for a ruling.

"It's very, very important to Congressman DeLay because he's been required to step down from his leadership post simply because of the existence of an accusation," the defense attorney said.

DeLay did not speak with reporters before or after the hearing.

The hearing was DeLay's first appearance before Priest, who was appointed to the case after DeLay's attorneys had the first judge removed because of his contributions to Democratic candidates and causes.

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Ex-DeLay Aide Cooperating in Bribery Probe

By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer
Tue Nov 22, 7:07 AM ET

WASHINGTON - A former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay who pleaded guilty in a federal bribery probe involving members of Congress has been cooperating with prosecutors since July.

The disclosure about Michael Scanlon, who also is an ex-partner of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, comes in an investigation of $80 million that the two men collected from six American Indian tribes.

"There have been a lot of conversations" between Scanlon and federal prosecutors over the past five months, Scanlon attorney Plato Cacheris said Monday night. "He had a lot to say."

Scanlon pleaded guilty Monday to conspiring to bribe public officials. Under the plea before U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle, Scanlon will pay restitution totaling more than $19 million to Indian tribes that he admitted had been defrauded.

Abramoff and Scanlon collected more than $80 million between 2001 and 2004 from six Indian tribes with casinos.

On Friday, Scanlon was charged with conspiracy. On Monday, the Justice Department's statement of facts which Scanlon signed went beyond the earlier charging document, revealing that by means of trips, tickets to sporting events and campaign contributions Scanlon and Abramoff "provided a stream of things of value to public officials in exchange for a series of official acts."

DeLay, R-Texas, is among those facing scrutiny for his associations with Abramoff, including a trip to Scotland and use of Abramoff's skybox at a Washington sports arena.

DeLay, who relinquished his post as House majority leader after a separate indictment in Texas, is due in court Tuesday in Austin for a hearing seeking dismissal of conspiracy and money laundering charges.

In the Scanlon plea, documents filed with the court say the items to one unidentified congressman or his staff included all-expense-paid trips to the Northern Marianas Islands in 2000, a trip to the Super Bowl in Tampa., Fla., in 2001 and a golf trip to Scotland in 2002.

Based on information already placed on the public record by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, the congressman is Rep. Bob Ney (news, bio, voting record), R-Ohio.

In a statement, Ney's office said, "All that this plea agreement shows is that Mr. Scanlon had a deliberate, secret, and well-concealed scheme to defraud many people, and it appears, unfortunately, that Rep. Ney was one of the many people defrauded."

Many of the things suggested to have occurred in the plea agreement "did not actually take place," Ney's office said. "Whenever Rep. Ney took official action, actions similar to those taken by elected representatives every day as part of the normal, appropriate government process, he did so based on his best understanding of what was right and not based on any improper influence."

The statement of facts that Scanlon signed said that he and Abramoff — identified in the document as Lobbyist A — provided items to public officials in exchange for "agreements to support and pass legislation, agreements to place statements in the Congressional Record, agreements to contact personnel in the United States Executive Branch agencies and offices to influence decisions of those agencies and offices." A representative of the Inspector General's office in the Interior Department was seated at the table of prosecutors.

The court documents said a senior staffer for "Representative No. 1" and others traveled to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in January 2000 to assist Abramoff and his company in maintaining lobbying clients; Representative No. 1 as the co-chairman of a conference committee of House and Senate members agreed to introduce legislation that would lift existing federal bans against commercial gaming for two Indian tribes in Texas that were Abramoff clients; and that Representative No. 1 met with a California tribe to discuss the congressman's agreement to assist in passing legislation regarding taxation of certain payments received by members of the California tribe.

"Guilty, your honor," Scanlon told the judge when asked how he was pleading.

Scanlon could face up to five years in prison.

The court documents that Scanlon signed say he had a fee-splitting arrangement with Abramoff that was kept secret from the tribes because disclosure likely would have jeopardized the arrangement. Lobbyist A, the court papers said, encouraged his existing clients to hire Scanlon's firm for grass roots and public relations services, while discouraging the clients from seeking competitive pricing and proposals from vendors other than Scanlon's firm.

The prices Scanlon's firm charged for its services "were significantly in excess" of the costs, the statement added.

Outside the courthouse, Scanlon attorney Cacheris said his client regrets what happened to the tribes and "he is trying to do what he thinks is right" by cooperating with the government investigation.

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"So many minority youths had volunteered…that there was literally no room for patriotic folks like myself." --Tom DeLay, explaining at the 1988 GOP convention why he and vice presidential nominee Dan Quayle did not fight in the Vietnam War

DeLay Ex-Aide to Plead Guilty in Lobby Case

Published on Saturday, November 19, 2005 by the New York Times
by Anne E. Kornblut

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 - Michael Scanlon, a former top official for Representative Tom DeLay and onetime partner of the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, has agreed to plead guilty in a deal with federal prosecutors, according to his lawyer. The deal reveals a broadening corruption investigation involving top members of Congress.

Criminal papers filed in federal court outlined a conspiracy that not only named Mr. Scanlon but also mentioned a congressman, identified only as Representative No. 1, as part of the exchange of favors from clients funneled to lobbyists and officials.

This was the first time that a member of Congress, identified by lawyers in the case as Representative Bob Ney, Republican of Ohio, has been implicated in criminal papers as part of the inquiry, which has sprawled from Indian casinos to the lucrative lobbying firms of Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon and then reached to the Republican leadership.

Federal prosecutors announced a single conspiracy charge against Mr. Scanlon on Friday, in advance of a Monday court hearing at which he is expected to plead guilty in exchange for his cooperation. Investigators accused Mr. Scanlon of conspiring to defraud Indian tribes of millions of dollars as part of a lobbying and corruption scheme.

Mr. Scanlon, 35, is a former spokesman for Mr. DeLay. News of his cooperation with law enforcement officials sent a jolt through the Republican majority in Congress.

Mr. DeLay has been indicted in Texas on unrelated charges involving fund-raising practices for state Republicans. His ties to Mr. Abramoff, along with costly overseas trips, have been under investigation for more than a year. The indictment forced Mr. DeLay to step aside as House majority leader this fall.

Court papers filed Friday alleged that Mr. Scanlon and Mr. Abramoff, who has not been charged in the Indian lobbying case, had sought to "corruptly offer and provide things of value, including money, meals, trips and entertainment to federal public officials in return for agreements to perform official acts." The wording suggested that more than one lawmaker was under investigation.

But the document singled out Representative No. 1 as the main recipient of gifts, tickets and meals - including a now infamous golfing trip to Scotland - in exchange for helping Mr. Scanlon and Mr. Abramoff with their clients.

Mr. Ney, chairman of the House Administration Committee, has offered his cooperation to prosecutors, said Brian Walsh, his spokesman, who added that Mr. Ney had contended that he was tricked by Mr. Scanlon and Mr. Abramoff into assisting their clients.

Federal prosecutors and Congressional officials have been conducting extensive investigations into the lobbying practices of Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon, who earned about $82 million representing a handful of wealthy Indian tribes on gambling issues over four years. Investigators believe the two men funneled millions through charities and front organizations to skim profits, avoid taxes and mask incomplete work.

Beyond accusations of fraud, investigators have delved into the politically delicate territory of the relationship between lobbyists and lawmakers. Until last year, Mr. Abramoff ruled an industry governed by networking because of his close ties to Mr. DeLay, trading on his access to the rising Republican leader to build a lucrative lobbying practice. He and Mr. Scanlon are at the center of a Senate inquiry that held its final hearing this week.

In the eight-page criminal filing, prosecutors accused Mr. Scanlon of taking part in a "corruption scheme" between January 2000 and April 2004, working alongside a "Lobbyist A" who was identified by lawyers involved in the case as Mr. Abramoff.

The pair "provided a stream of things of value" to Representative No. 1 and members of his staff, the charge read. In return, both Mr. Scanlon and Mr. Abramoff received agreements from Mr. Ney "to perform a series of official acts," including "agreements to support and pass legislation, agreements to place statements into the Congressional Record," and meetings with their clients.

The court filing also states that the congressman helped one of the businessmen's clients apply for a license to install wireless telephone infrastructure in the House of Representatives. Mr. Ney's committee manages such issues.

Mr. Ney has been the focus of scrutiny for months after revelations that he took a 2002 golfing trip to Scotland that was sponsored by Mr. Abramoff. Mr. Ney has started a legal defense fund. His legal troubles have added to the growing ethics accusations against Congressional Republicans.

Other lawmakers including Mr. DeLay received campaign donations from Mr. Abramoff's and Mr. Scanlon's Indian clients. But Mr. Ney performed what prosecutors portrayed as blatant favors for Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon, inserting remarks helpful to their business into the Congressional Record and sponsoring bills at their behest.

Mark H. Tuohey, the lawyer representing Mr. Ney, said that the congressman had never offered any legislative help to the lobbyists in exchange for travel, like the 2002 golfing trip to Scotland, or gifts.

Mr. Ney has said that Mr. Abramoff deceived him over how the Scotland trip was paid for in his travel disclosure forms, saying it was paid for by a conservative educational group, not by Mr. Abramoff or his lobbying firm - and about the details of Mr. Abramoff's purchase of a casino boat fleet in Florida in 2001.

"I think the people who are named in this among others, Scanlon and Abramoff, didn't tell him the truth," Mr. Tuohey said of Mr. Ney.

Mr. Abramoff was indicted in Florida this year on fraud and conspiracy charges relating to a separate effort to buy Sun Cruz, a fleet of casino boats, in 2000. Although Mr. Scanlon did public affairs work for Sun Cruz, he was not charged in that case. It now appears that Mr. Scanlon has been cooperating with the authorities to reach a plea deal in the Indian gambling inquiry. Mr. Abramoff is not cooperating with law enforcement officials, people involved with the case said.

The lawyer for Mr. Abramoff, Abbe Lowell, declined to comment. The lawyer for Mr. Scanlon, Stephen Braga, confirmed that his client would enter a plea on Monday. "Mr. Scanlon and the Department of Justice will present a proposed plea agreement to the court to resolve the charge," Mr. Braga said.

How much Mr. Scanlon knows and has told prosecutors about the business practices of Mr. Abramoff and members of Congress remains unclear. "This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on Abramoff because Scanlon was reportedly his closest associate," said Lawrence Barcella, a former federal prosecutor who is now a prominent defense lawyer in Washington. As for politicians like Mr. DeLay and Mr. Ney, Mr. Barcella said, "I wouldn't be sitting as comfortably today as I was yesterday if I were them."

In addition to the corruption scheme, prosecutors say Mr. Scanlon and Mr. Abramoff carried out a secret kickback deal in which Mr. Abramoff encouraged his Indian clients to hire Mr. Scanlon for public affairs work. Mr. Scanlon then funneled half his profits to Mr. Abramoff. Their aim was "to enrich themselves by obtaining substantial funds from their clients through fraud and concealment and through obtaining benefits for their clients through corrupt means," the charge said.

Tribes in Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Michigan fell prey to the conspiracy, the Scanlon papers said.

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DeLay Collects $1.2m From Lobbyists, More Coming Tonight
Group Also Proposes Major Reforms to Prevent Lobbyists from Using Campaign Cash to Feed at the Public Trough

WASHINGTON - November 17 - As the biggest influence-peddlers in Washington prepare to “host” a fundraiser tonight to raise campaign cash for embattled Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), Public Citizen released a new analysis showing that DeLay has raised more than $1.2 million in hard money from lobbyists, their spouses and lobbying firms’ PACs since the 1998 election cycle.

Of the event’s 67 sponsors, at least 60 have registered as lobbyists since 2004, including 44 who work at K Street lobbying firms. Seven other sponsors are in-house lobbyists who work for the energy industry, which recently received billions in subsidies, tax breaks and regulatory rollbacks from DeLay’s successful passage of major energy legislation this past summer.

“Tonight’s event underscores the need for Congress to enact reforms that prohibit lobbyists from making campaign contributions to lawmakers whom they lobby,” said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen. “Too many legislative favors flow from campaign contributions, allowing lobbyists and their corporate sponsors to feed at the public trough.”

Public Citizen is calling for a prohibition on lobbyists making contributions to or organizing fundraisers for the lawmakers they woo. DeLay is expected to face a strong re-election challenge due to his past ethical lapses, his close connections to former indicted super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and his recent indictment on charges of corporate money-laundering in Texas state elections. Tonight’s fundraiser is an unprecedented gathering of some of Washington’s biggest influence-peddlers on behalf of a single member of Congress.

Findings from Public Citizen’s analysis of DeLay’s contributions from nearly 400 lobbyists, 12 spouses and 44 PACs, which is based on data from the Center for Responsive Politics, include:

DeLay’s campaign committee and his leadership PAC have received a total of $1.2 million in hard money from lobbyists since the 1998 election cycle, the earliest period for which federal lobbying registration data is available online. This amount includes $850,056 in contributions from registered lobbyists and their spouses from Washington, D.C., Maryland or Virginia, and $392,393 in contributions from the PACs of lobbying firms and law firms that maintain lobbying practices.
Lobbyists have stepped up their giving during the current election cycle, during which DeLay has been indicted on money laundering charges. Barely halfway through the cycle, Washington-area lobbyists and their spouses have already given DeLay $216,200.
The total contributed since 1998 is surely much higher when one counts the substantial bounty DeLay has likely reaped from all PACs controlled by lobbyists, from corporate executives and other non-lobbyists at lobbyist-coordinated fundraisers, and from soft-money contributions made by lobbyists to his leadership PAC (such contributions were banned after 2002).
Abramoff and his wife, Pam, have given $40,000, more than any husband-wife duo. Among individual givers, Abramoff’s $23,000 in contributions was second to Gary J. Andres, of Dutko Worldwide, who gave $27,254.
DeLay’s own office staff has proved a fertile ground for developing future lobbyist-donors. Tonight’s event was organized by 10 former DeLay staffers, eight of whom are registered lobbyists: Amy Jensen Cuniffee, of Quinn Gillespie & Associates; Geof Gradler, of Capitol Ideas; Ralph Hellman, of the Information Technology Industry Council; Susan Hirschmann, of Williams and Jensen; Kathryn Lehman, of Holland & Knight; Glenn LeMunyon, of the LeMunyon Group; Drew Maloney, of the Federalist Group; and Thomas J. Pyle, of Koch Industries. They also include at least two former DeLay staffers who are not registered to lobby but work for lobbying firms: Stuart Roy of DCI Group and Juli Sullivan of Akin Gump.
For a list of the DeLay fundraiser’s “hosts,” click here.

“Tom DeLay and his lobbyist friends appear to be tone deaf to how the American people perceive this display of money and power tonight,” said Frank Clemente, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. “Rather than raising boatloads of special interest cash, Rep. DeLay should be promoting reforms to drain the swamp in Washington.”

Sponsors of DeLay’s Lobbyist-Hosted Fundraiser Have Been Recipients of DeLay’s Largess in Energy Legislation

The American Petroleum Institute, whose president, Red Cavaney, is a “host” of tonight’s event, is the industry association for oil and natural gas corporations, which received a total of $4 billion in new subsidies under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT) pushed through Congress under DeLay’s leadership last summer. Subsidies in the law include $1.5 billion in direct payments to oil companies to be handed out by a new private-public consortium based in DeLay’s home district, as well as $974 million in new oil drilling tax breaks, $406 million in tax breaks to owners of oil refineries and $1 billion in breaks on royalty payments made by oil companies drilling on public land. EPACT also exempts some oil drillers from the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
The National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, whose president, Bob Slaughter, is a “host” of tonight’s event, is the industry association for oil refining companies. Its members include fellow fundraiser “hosts” Valero Energy and Koch Industries. These corporations will reap $406 million in new refinery tax breaks from EPACT. They would also benefit from a separate refinery bill (H.R. 3893) passed by the House in October that imposes strict limits on environmental protection efforts by federal, state and local governments and forces governments and environmental groups to pay the corporations’ legal bills if they lose a case against them. The bill was passed with a heavy push from DeLay, who, despite resigning his leadership post a week earlier due to his indictment, “was very much a presence, working members at Mr. Hastert’s side as if nothing had changed from last week,” according to The Wall Street Journal (October 8, 2005).
The American Gas Association, whose senior vice president, Rick Shelby, is a “host” of tonight’s event, is the industry association for natural gas corporations. Those companies will receive $1 billion in natural gas pipeline tax breaks from EPACT.
The Edison Electric Institute, whose president, Tom Kuhn, is a “host” of tonight’s event, is the industry association for electric utility corporations. Those companies will receive $1.2 billion in tax breaks on electric transmission lines under EPACT.
Lyondell Chemical Company, whose director of government affairs, Edlu Thom, is a “host” of tonight’s event, is a major producer of the gasoline additive MTBE, which has been found to pollute groundwater. In 2003, the energy bill was stalled – and ultimately died – because of Senate objections to DeLay’s provision in the House version that provided MTBE manufacturers like Lyondell with immunity from lawsuits seeking payment for the clean-up of MTBE-contaminated water supplies. In November 2003, President Bush called then-House Majority Leader DeLay to ask him to break the impasse by removing the MTBE provision. DeLay refused.
Other industry associations and corporations whose lobbyist’s are serving as “hosts” include: the American Trucking Associations, Independent Insurance Agents of America, Information Technology Industry Council, National Association of Manufacturers, National Mining Association, United Parcel Service, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and UST Inc.

Public Citizen Is Calling on Congress to Enact Reforms that Curb the Influence of Lobbyists

1. Prohibit lobbyists from making, soliciting or arranging for campaign contributions to those whom they lobby. As a matter of course in Washington, lobbyists are expected to make extensive campaign contributions from their own pockets, solicit even more contributions from their clients and arrange lavish fundraising events, all to get special access to members of Congress.

2. Members of Congress who become lobbyists should forfeit their special privileges and should not be allowed to carry over their campaign funds to benefit their lobbying activities. Such former members should no longer have access to the floor of Congress during votes and use of the congressional gym and dining hall. They should also be required to terminate their campaign accounts upon leaving office, and to donate the remaining amount to charity. These funds were given to them for election purposes, not for influence-peddling with special interests.

3. Ban all gifts from lobbyists to members of Congress. The current limit of up to $100 in gifts each year is watered down by a general lack of monitoring and enforcement of gift-giving by the ethics committees. Congress should enact legislation similar to that in Massachusetts and Wisconsin, which ban all gifts from lobbyists to government officials – known as the “no-cup-of-coffee” rule.

4. Prohibit lobbyists from serving as campaign treasurers and PAC-men for members of Congress. According to the Center for Public Integrity, more than 80 members of Congress have used corporate lobbyists to head their fundraising committees or leadership PACs since 1998. A lobbyist controlling a candidate’s purse strings is an obscenely powerful position that reeks of improper influence-peddling.

5. Put all lobbyist financial reports, lobbying contacts and congressional travel records on the Internet for public access. This information should be filed electronically in a timely fashion and made widely available to the public on the Internet in a searchable, sortable and downloabale format.

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Lobbyist friends pass hat for DeLay's 2006 campaign
Backers seek to raise $200,000 and moral support

Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau
Nov. 17, 2005, 12:01AM

WASHINGTON - High-profile lobbyists and Republican operatives will gather for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres tonight in hopes of raising more than $200,000 for embattled U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay's re-election campaign and proving that he still has powerful friends in high places.

They are hardly strangers. In fact, many are former DeLay aides.

"We thought it would be good to have an outpouring of support for Tom, and not just moral support, but to have an effect on his re-election" bid next year, said DeLay's former communications director, Stuart Roy, now a GOP consultant and a host of the fundraiser.

DeLay, a Sugar Land Republican, has been indicted in Travis County on charges related to campaign financing. The indictments forced him to step down as House majority leader, and now he faces possibly his most difficult re-election campaign.

Roy and the nearly 70 others on the organizing committee were required to either donate $2,000 themselves or raise $5,000 for DeLay. The 100-plus people invited were asked to contribute between $500 and $2,100, the maximum individuals can give to a candidate in each primary and general election.

Roy said the intent is to "get new money in the door that you wouldn't have otherwise raised," from people who often just donate to political action committees rather than candidates.

If the two-hour event rakes in more than $200,000, it would be among the most lucrative fundraisers Washington has seen aside from those that feature the president or vice president, said GOP strategist Charlie Black.

He regularly contributes to DeLay and cut a $1,000 check for the fundraiser, which he will be unable to attend.

Nonprofit group Public Citizen, which wants to end the practice of lobbyists contributing to the lawmakers they seek to influence, plans a protest outside the event.

Lampson plans challenge

The fundraiser began to take shape after DeLay was indicted six weeks ago on conspiracy and money-laundering charges. A grand jury issued the indictments after hearing evidence presented by District Attorney Ronnie Earle, a Democrat.

DeLay has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and has said the case is politically motivated.

GOP strategists estimate DeLay will need at least $5 million for the 2006 general election.

Former Rep. Nick Lampson, who lost his seat after Texas' congressional district lines were redrawn under a plan orchestrated by DeLay, is seeking the Democratic nomination against DeLay in the 22nd Congressional District.

The DeLay campaign took in more than $2 million between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, the latest figures available, according to PoliticalMoneyLine, which tracks contributions. Lampson raised about $690,000.

The host committee for tonight's soiree is a veritable directory of former DeLay employees, well-connected Washington lobbyists, including several for the energy industry, and former staffers for leading Republican lawmakers and presidents.

"Most of these people have done well because of their connection with DeLay, and DeLay has actively tried to place them in key positions knowing that it would help him and the Republicans in Congress, and it has," said University of Virginia congressional expert Larry Sabato.

Two other names surface

Among the organizers are two former DeLay chiefs of staff who are now lobbyists and whose names have been linked to ethical issues surrounding the former majority leader.

Tim Berry, who left DeLay's staff in October, went to the 2001 Super Bowl in Tampa and spent an evening aboard a gambling cruise ship there, all courtesy of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, whose dealings with DeLay are under investigation.

Berry did not report the trip on disclosure forms, an error DeLay's office called an honest mistake, saying Berry thought the trip was a GOP fundraiser allowed by House rules.

Susan Hirschmann, now at the politically active law firm of Williams & Jensen, accompanied DeLay and others on a $70,000 trip to Britain in 2000 that is being scrutinized for possibly violating House regulations governing the influence of interest groups on lawmakers.

DeLay has said it was a legitimate fact-finding tour sponsored by a nonprofit organization as allowed by House rules.

Chronicle reporters Grant Schulte and Michael Hedges contributed to this report.

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Top Washington lobbyists plan fundraiser for DeLay

Backers say it shows his strength; critics cite 'pay-to-play' attitude

12:00 AM CST on Tuesday, November 15, 2005
By TODD J. GILLMAN / The Dallas Morning News

WASHINGTON – An A-list of Washington lobbyists will throw a fundraiser Thursday for Rep. Tom DeLay, a sure sign the Sugar Land Republican still has friends despite an indictment that forced him to step down as House majority leader.

"Most of the groups and people in D.C. realize the contribution that Mr. DeLay has made to the party and the influence that he still has," said Carl Forti, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Seven weeks ago, a grand jury in Austin charged Mr. DeLay with violating state campaign law, triggering a House GOP rule requiring him to leave the leadership. He calls the charges politically motivated and denies wrongdoing. But they have energized Democrats hoping to unseat him next November.

Mr. DeLay holds a wide financial lead over his likely opponent, former Rep. Nick Lampson. The Democrat, ousted a year ago after redistricting that Mr. DeLay helped engineer, has raised $826,000 so far to Mr. DeLay's $2.2 million. Mr. DeLay has also been busy raising money for his legal defense, bringing in $318,000 in the last three months.

Critics say the fundraiser reflects the favors Mr. DeLay has dispensed, along with his continued clout.

"Tom DeLay has been sitting atop the pay-to-play culture in Washington ever since he got here, and if there's even an inkling of a chance that he comes back, they want to be sure they're in a position to reap the rewards that he's been known to so freely give," said Bill Burton, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Lampson spokesman Mike Malaise said he wasn't surprised that lobbyists would turn out for Mr. DeLay. "These lobbyists are not supporting Tom DeLay because they think he's a statesman. They are supporting him precisely because he is willing to skirt the law and rules of ethics to deliver for them at the expense of his own district," he said.

DeLay campaign spokeswoman Shannon Flaherty declined to comment.

Hosts for Thursday's reception include executives from many of the capital's best-connected trade groups.

John Engler, former Michigan governor and head of the National Association of Manufacturers, is a host. "DeLay is a friend, and [Engler] intends to help his friends," said spokesman Pat Cleary.

Public Citizen, one of the liberal watchdog groups that have accused Mr. DeLay of ethical lapses, may try to stage a protest outside the event.

Said the group's campaign finance lobbyist, Craig Holman: "Here he is, the most scandal-driven officeholder on Capitol Hill, mostly centered around his relationship with lobbyists. Then he sets up the largest fundraiser of the year with K Street lobbyists. That's chutzpah."

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