|Tom DeLay- Corporate Whore|
Tom DeLay to be destroyed by forces he set in motion?
By Sheila McNulty in Houston
Published: January 26 2006 22:50 | Last updated: January 26 2006 22:50
The re-election campaign headquarters for US Representative Tom DeLay is virtually empty this morning. Five people are stuffing envelopes, the press officer is checking her Blackberry, and the campaign manager and another staffer are sitting in a dark room, blinds drawn, working quietly at their desks.
There is no hustle and bustle, no knocks at the door for fliers or phones ringing with calls from constituents offering to help.
But Chris Homan, the campaign manager, remains confident. Most campaigns start the year of the election, he notes, but Mr DeLay’s began last March, and has over the past 10 months been quietly targeting the grassroots, with Mr DeLay regularly conducting home-visit “meet-and-greets’’ across this largely Republican district. He claims 1,500 volunteers have been signed up – 500 in the last 10 days alone.
That Mr DeLay felt the need to organise so early, and blanket the 22nd district of Texas so completely, underlines how difficult the congressman is expecting the race to be. Indeed, three relatively unknown Republicans feel emboldened enough to challenge him in the March 7 primary for the right to run against the Democratic opponent in the November 7 general election. In 2004 Mr DeLay won 55 per cent of the vote to 41 per cent for his Democratic opponent.
Mr DeLay’s run for re- election comes while he awaits trial in Texas on money laundering charges related to campaign financing. In addition, the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a political associate from Washington, recently pleaded guilty to public corruption and has agreed to co-operate with the government in a case Mr DeLay’s critics contend might well end up touching the congressman.
While Mr DeLay denies any wrongdoing, the legal manoeuvring already has led him to resign as majority leader of the House to keep his problems from tainting the party in what Republicans fear will be a tough election.
“There is an awful lot of anxiety among Republicans as to what may happen in 2006,’’ says Mike Franc of the conservative Heritage Foundation. “I think there is a sense among a growing number of members that they have lost their way. Tom DeLay may become a symbol of what ails them.’’
It is for that reason, Mr Homan says, that Mr DeLay must win this race. The loss of his seat, after 21 years in Congress during which Mr DeLay rose to become one of the most powerful politicians in Washington, would be a symbolic blow. For that reason, Mr DeLay says, Democrats have been working to undermine him.
“This is going to be a very expensive, national race and we’re going to see an unprecedented number of outside Democrat attack groups come into the 22nd district to tell the voters who should represent them,’’ Mr DeLay said.
“We’re already seeing who is bankrolling my opponent – MoveOn.org [the leftwing activist group], trial lawyers, and labour unions – and it’s going to take a lot of financial and grassroots support to voice our message over their well-funded, misleading attacks, but I intend to fight hard and I intend to win.”
A poll by the Houston Chronicle, conducted by two respected university professors, concluded that only half of those people who voted for Mr DeLay in 2004 had confirmed they would do so again. Mr DeLay’s staff question the legitimacy of the poll, but it has given life to the campaign of his biggest Democratic opponent, Nick Lampson, who, assuming Mr DeLay wins the primary, will run against him in the general election.
“This district wants someone who can represent them in Congress who makes headlines for the right reasons,’’ Mr Lampson says. He was among six Democrats ousted after Mr DeLay’s 2003 redistricting campaign, which redrew the voting blocks for Congress to benefit Republicans. Because Mr DeLay was so firmly entrenched at the time, he added thousands of Democrats to his own district, which might hurt him now that his position has been weakened.
Richard Murray, a University of Houston political scientist, says parallels might well be drawn between Mr DeLay and the tragic figures of Shakespeare, who are destroyed by forces they put in motion. “Hoisted by your own petard – it happens every now and then,’’ Mr Murray says. “His best-case scenario is to survive as a moderately powerful Congressional member.’’
Yet Mr Franc notes there are some politicians who make real comebacks – Winston Churchill and Richard Nixon, certainly, while, on the congressional level, Trent Lott is in the process of rebuilding his Washington reputation.
What makes those who succeed successful, Mr Franc says, is being patient and keeping focused on the long-term goal. “He has the magic touch that, at the end of the day, will allow him to prevail.
An aerial view of U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham's Rancho
Santa Fe home after it was raided by federal agents.
Texas prosecutors probe possible Cunningham-Delay cash link
By Seth Hettena
6:31 p.m. January 24, 2006
SAN DIEGO – The Texas district attorney prosecuting Rep. Tom DeLay has issued a second round of subpoenas to San Diego County businessmen seeking records surrounding donations to the former GOP leader and disgraced former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham.
The subpoenas issued by Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle's office zero in on 2002 transactions involving PerfectWave Technologies LLC, a Poway company controlled by Brent Wilkes, a businessman with ties to DeLay and Cunningham. Wilkes' attorney has identified him as an unidentified co-conspirator of Cunningham, the North County Republican who resigned from Congress after pleading guilty in November to accepting $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors.
DeLay, charged with conspiring to launder campaign money that was given in 2002 races for the state Legislature, flew three times on a jet owned by another Wilkes company, according to campaign records.
According to the subpoenas, businessman William B. Adams wrote a $40,000 check to PerfectWave on Sept. 18, 2002. Two days later, PerfectWave sent $15,000 to TRMPAC, the state committee whose spending is at issue in DeLay's criminal case. On Oct. 3, PerfectWave gave $25,000 to "Tribute to Heroes," Cunningham's annual black-tie charity gala in San Diego.
Wilkes' charitable foundation spent nearly $36,000 hosting "Tribute to Heroes" in 2002. Cunningham, a former Vietnam war fighter ace, was feted with a trophy at the event, according to the event's Web site and tax filings.
Subpoenas were issued last week to Adams and Max Gelwix, PerfectWave's president and CEO. Before joining PerfectWave, Gelwix worked with Adams in a small San Diego soil products company. Adams declined to comment and Gelwix did not return a message left seeking comment.
The subpoenas sought records of any communications between DeLay, Cunningham, House Majority Whip Roy Blount of Missouri and Wilkes over federal legislation that may have benefited Adams and his businesses.
Matt Hennessy, an attorney for DeLay, said the subpoenas were not worth the paper they were printed on. Cunningham's lawyer, Lee Blalack, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Adams, a golf course developer who lives in Bonita, gave $5,000 in 2002 both to Delay's Americans for a Republican Majority PAC and Blount's Rely on Your Beliefs fund, according to campaign finance records.
Earle's office, which did not return a message left seeking comment, also issued subpoenas regarding a $10,000 contribution received by a San Diego YMCA that may have come from an Idaho mining company.
According to the subpoenas, Atlas Mining Co. of Osburn, Idaho wired $10,000 to PerfectWave on Oct. 24, 2002 – the same day PerfectWave cut a $10,000 check to the Copley Family YMCA. Wilkes, whose foundation gave an additional $15,000 to the Copley YMCA in 2002, was named its man of the year.
But Ron Short, Atlas Mining's operations manager, said Tuesday that he could find no record that money was wired to PerfectWave and added that he had never heard of PerfectWave or Wilkes.
"We didn't have $10,00 to give away three years ago," Short said.
Also named in the subpoenas was San Diego attorney Paul E. Smithers, who co-signed checks from PerfectWave to TRMPAC and Tribute to Heroes. Smithers did not return a message left seeking comment.
Don't DeLay, clean House
- Debra J. Saunders
Sunday, January 22, 2006
HOUSE Republicans are scrambling to rub some of the tarnish off their dingy ethics image. They're desperately proposing reforms that would prevent members from taking pricey golf junkets paid for by special interests -- that is, they want to ban trips they never should have accepted. They're even holding a Feb. 2 in-House election to replace the indicted Texan Rep. Tom DeLay as House majority leader.
Give it up. A new face on the organizational chart picked from Team DeLay won't save the sorry image of House Repubs. Ditto ethics rules that any half-competent politician can subvert faster than you can say "election lawyer." If Republicans want to convince voters that they've reformed, here's a suggestion: Pick Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colo., to replace DeLay.
It would be glorious payback. When Hefley was chairman of the House ethics committee, he stood up to DeLay. In 2004, his committee unanimously admonished DeLay three times -- for offering to trade a candidate endorsement for a vote in favor of the Medicare drug plan, for cozying up to energy lobbyists in a way that "at a minimum, created the appearance that donors were being provided with special access," and for asking a federal agency to track a plane carrying members of the Texas Legislature during a political squabble. GOP biggies were miffed -- not at DeLay, as they should have been, but at Hefley.
In retaliation, the GOP leadership announced it would change committee rules to make it harder to investigate complaints, and thus shielded DeLay. Hefley complained that the changes threatened "the integrity of the House." The GOP leadership kindly dumped Hefley and found a new man to chair the committee.
What better man to replace DeLay then the man who lost a committee for standing up to "The Hammer"?
As the Almanac of American Politics noted, Hefley said of DeLay, "He lets me know repeatedly I'm not part of his team, and that's fine. I don't want to be part of his team."
Here's another welcome departure from the frenzied log-rolling that has been endemic under House Speaker Dennis Hastert: "He often offers amendments to cut appropriations by 1 percent and in September 2004 stripped dozens of transportation projects off an appropriation because they had not been authorized," wrote the Almanac. Hefley had explained, "It's just an exercise to illustrate that you ought to do it by the proper procedure."
Hefley's Web site targets "the Porker of the Week" -- and if Hefley doesn't find a porker every week, at least he is willing to target the worst projects pushed by the most profligate Republicans. In November, for example, Hefley took after the infamous $320 million earmark for Alaska's "Bridge to Nowhere."
And this is downright quaint: Hefley raised a measly $100,000 for his last re-election campaign, and won handily.
Under Hastert and DeLay, the GOP leadership has betrayed Republican principles. Deficit spending has been the leadership's crutch, and fundraising its addiction. It's clear DeLay and his cronies would still be living large and skirting rules if uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff had not pleaded guilty to defrauding Indian tribal clients, conspiring to bribe members of Congress and evading taxes. If the GOP is calling for reforms, it's not because the party saw the light. It's because the leaders got caught.
That's not why voters elect Republicans. The GOP is built on people who want less government, not record spending. They want their lawmakers to be pro-business, but also expect their representatives to feel more allegiance to their constituents than sleazy lobbyists flashing first-class plane tickets.
Hefley spokesperson Kim Sears told me the congressman has received "some encouragement" to pursue the plum House majority leader position, but he is "not actively seeking it." As Hefley told Sears, to win leadership posts, a member has to devote years to working up the ladder -- it doesn't seem likely that a lawmaker who put his district first could become leader.
Changing the ethics rules won't help the Republicans if they continue to choose leaders because they are the biggest fundraisers and the best backslappers. If Republicans want to get back to their philosophical roots, they should find a leader who remembers why he went to Washington. They should choose a leader who still believes in "the integrity of the House."
Lobbyist with ties to DeLay questioned
1/19/2006 1:05 PM
By: News 8 Austin Staff
Texas House Democrats are asking Gov. Rick Perry to cut off the state's relationship to a lobbyist who used to work for Congressman Tom DeLay.
House Democratic Leader Jim Dunnam said Texas is paying $180,000 a year to lobbyist Drew Maloney. He led a group Wednesday calling for the cancellation of that contract. Dunnam claims the deal is a cover used to funnel Texas taxpayer money to Republican politicians.
He said Maloney is taking money from his contract with Texas and giving it to GOP candidates from other states.
"This is corruption and cronyism in Texas politics, and we need to get rid of it," Dunnam said.
Perry's office calls the charges "baseless," and "partisan."
"It would be very difficult to establish a direct correlation between the money received from Texas and the money spent on political campaign contributions. But if you're gonna be a lobby firm, there's not a lobby firm in town that doesn't make political contributions, and the source of their revenue is money from their clients," political analyst Harvey Kronberg said.
Maloney formerly worked as a chief of staff for DeLay. He was first hired to work as a lobbyist for the state in 2003. DeLay currently faces money laundering charges related to a campaign finance case in 2002.
DeLay lashes out as support plummets
Author: Paul Hill
People's Weekly World Newspaper, 01/19/06 14:20
HOUSTON — Support for Tom DeLay (R-Texas) is dwindling in his home district even as the former Speaker of the House threatens to “sue any station” that runs advertisements linking him to corruption. A new poll conducted for the Houston Chronicle indicated that only half those who voted for him in ’04 would do so again today. Sixty percent gave him an overall unfavorable rating while only 28 percent gave him a favorable rating.
DeLay faces an indictment in Travis County over charges of laundering campaign funds, and has abandoned efforts to regain the House majority leader post he relinquished as a result of the indictment.
DeLay’s threat came after two public interest groups, the Campaign for America’s Future and the Public Campaign Action Fund, released television, radio and billboard ads targeting DeLay and Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) for their ties to corruption.
“Rep. Tom DeLay is a central figure in the Jack Abramoff wing of the Republican Party,” said Toby Chaudhuri, communication director of the Campaign for America’s Future, in a statement responding to DeLay’s threat to sue. “He is caught in the middle of the worst corruption scandal to hit Washington since Watergate. The dirty tactics that got Rep. DeLay in this mess aren’t going to get him out.”
According to the Houston Chronicle, “The 30-second ad lists the money and travel that DeLay allegedly received from [lobbyist Jack] Abramoff and calls on the Sugar Land Republican to resign from Congress. … The ad says DeLay ‘pocketed tens of thousands in campaign contributions from’ Abramoff, which is true.”
DeLay and his political action committee have received nearly $50,000 from Abramoff and his wife. The ad reveals that DeLay has taken 48 trips to golf resorts, 100 flights aboard company jets and 200 nights at world-class resorts and hotels.
Several local Houston stations decided to pull the ad after the threats from DeLay, but it aired on CNN Headline News and CNBC in the Houston area, and is still running on local cable stations.
Meanwhile, DeLay staffers are reported to be handing in their BlackBerries and clearing out the former House majority leader’s office. They are also trying to figure out where they will go next. A lot of people are wondering where Rep. DeLay will eventually go. The question lingers “Will the Hammer go to the slammer?”
Poll: DeLay Losing Support in Own District
Sunday. Jan 15,2005
HOUSTON - Barely one of every five of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's constituents would vote for him if the election were held now, according to a newspaper poll released Saturday.
The Republican congressman, who lost his leadership post because of felony money laundering charges against him, trailed Democratic rival and former congressman Nick Lampson in his southeastern Texas district, according to the poll of 560 registered voters conducted for the Houston Chronicle.
In polling conducted Tuesday through Thursday, 22 percent of respondents said they would vote for DeLay, 30 percent chose Lampson and 11 percent favored Republican-turned-independent former congressman Steve Stockman.
Lampson's campaign manager, Mike Malaise, said the poll suggests that "people in the district want a congressman who will make headlines for the right reasons."
DeLay's spokeswoman Shannon Flaherty challenged the validity of the poll and said the result is "contrary to the strong support we're seeing for Congressman DeLay throughout the district."
In 2004, DeLay defeated relatively unknown Democrat Richard Morrison with 55 percent of the vote, his lowest victory margin.
In the latest poll, only half of those who supported DeLay in 2004 said they would vote for him again.
The poll, conducted by Rice University and the University of Houston, has a margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.
The poll was conducted days after DeLay announced he would not try to regain his House leadership post under pressure from Republicans concerned about his ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty this month to felony charges and is cooperating with investigators in a bribery probe focusing on several members of Congress and their aides.
In Texas, DeLay is charged with money laundering in connection with the transfer of $190,000 in corporate contributions through a Texas political action committee founded by DeLay to an arm of the National Republican Committee, which then contributed the similar amounts to GOP legislative candidates in Texas.
Republicans took control of the Texas Legislature after the 2002 elections, and pushed through a congressional redistricting plan favorable to the GOP that DeLay engineered.
FACTCHECK.ORG: CONTROVERSIAL TOM DELAY AD IS ACCURATE
FRIDAY, JAN 13, 2006
Independent Analysis Says DeLay Has No Factual Basis To Threaten TV Stations That Took The Spots Off The Air
WAHINGTON – The ad targeting embattled Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, which Houston television stations decided not to air after Rep. DeLay threatened to sue them for playing it, contains nothing false, according to an analysis released today by FactCheck.org.
The ad “contains nothing that is strictly false,” and Rep. DeLay’s lawyer “mischaracterized” what the ad said, wrote FactCheck.org on its website.
Rep. DeLay threatened to sue the stations because the ad refers to “one million dollars from Russian tycoons to allegedly influence his vote.”
The Washington Post reported the allegation, quoting the former president of an advocacy group as saying Rep. DeLay's former chief of staff told him that Russians contributed $1 million to the group in 1998, specifically to influence DeLay's vote on legislation. Rep. DeLay had multiple political connections to the advocacy group, and his wife received a salary from the group's founder.
Rep. DeLay’s lawyer also complained that the ad refers to a list of flights and trips Rep. DeLay took, citing a recent Associated Press article. FactCheck.org said “the AP story is accurately quoted, and not disputed.”
The two public interest groups that joined forces this week to run the ads are vigorously fighting back after Houston television stations pulled the ad under pressure from Rep. DeLay and his Washington lawyers.
The groups, the Campaign for America’s Future and the Public Campaign Action Fund, unveiled $115,000 in new television, radio and billboard ads targeting Rep. DeLay and Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, for their ties to corruption this week, kicking off a yearlong campaign to clean up Congress.
FactCheck.org is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania and monitors the accuracy of what is said by major political players to reduce deception in American politics.
Texas Court Won't Dismiss DeLay Charges
Jan 9, 9:45 PM (ET)
By LIZ AUSTIN
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The state's highest criminal court on Monday denied Rep. Tom DeLay's request that the money laundering charges against him be dismissed or sent back to a lower court for an immediate trial.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied the requests with no written order two days after he announced he was stepping down as House majority leader. DeLay had been forced to temporarily relinquish the Republican leadership post after he was indicted on money laundering and conspiracy charges in September.
DeLay, who denies wrongdoing, had been trying to rush to trial in Texas in hopes of clearing his name and regaining the position.
The House is expected to hold leadership elections when lawmakers return to the Capitol the week of Jan. 31.
DeLay's attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said they will continue to push for a quick trial because DeLay faces opposition in the March Republican primary.
"We'd like to get it over with before then, but it's not as crucial as it would have been if he were still in the running for his leadership post," DeGuerin said.
A spokesman for Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle had no immediate comment.
The trial court judge in December dismissed a conspiracy charge against DeLay but refused to throw out more serious allegations of money laundering. Prosecutors appealed that decision, and the judge decided not to proceed with the case until the appeal is resolved. It is still being considered by the 3rd Court of Appeals.
Prosecutors allege DeLay and two co-conspirators funneled $190,000 in corporate contributions through the Texas political committee and an arm of the National Republican Committee to seven GOP state legislative candidates.
They accuse DeLay and his two associates of trying to circumvent Texas' law prohibiting spending corporate money on campaigns, except for administrative expenses.
After DeLay withdrew permanently from the majority leader job, Rep. John Boehner of Ohio announced Sunday he is seeking the post. Republican Whip Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the acting majority leader, is campaigning for the job as well.
Officials Focus on a 2nd Firm Tied to DeLay
By ANNE E. KORNBLUT and GLEN JUSTICE
January 8, 2006
WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 - Having secured a guilty plea from the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, prosecutors are entering a new phase of the corruption investigation in Washington and are focusing on a lobbying firm that has even closer ties to Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader who is under scrutiny in the scandal.
The firm, Alexander Strategy Group, is of particular interest to investigators because it was founded by Edwin A. Buckham, a close friend of Mr. DeLay's and his former chief of staff, and has been a lucrative landing spot for several former members of the DeLay staff, people who are directly involved in the case have said.
Although the firm's name has circulated in connection with the case for many months, prosecutors' questions about Mr. Buckham and Alexander Strategy - which did not respond to requests for comment - have intensified recently, participants in the case said.
The firm openly promoted the idea that it could deliver access to Mr. DeLay, who has denied any wrongdoing but abruptly announced Saturday that he would not try to regain his leadership post. Now the very connections with Mr. DeLay that formed the backbone of Alexander Strategy, put together with Mr. Abramoff's help, have put the future of the firm in doubt.
While doing business with lobbyists is routine for most lawmakers, investigators are looking at the extent to which Mr. DeLay and other lawmakers may have accepted trips, campaign donations and other favors from Alexander Strategy, and in turn tried to help the business.
Still, prosecutors may have a difficult time reaching the high legal threshold required in a bribery case, in which it must be established that lawmakers performed official acts in exchange for specific favors, rather than as a result of an ongoing relationship with an outside lobbyist.
It is unclear whether any single action by the firm has caught investigators' attention so much as its overall pattern of activity.
Details of the ties between Alexander Strategy, Mr. DeLay and Mr. Abramoff - who pleaded guilty last week in federal court and is cooperating with investigators - have already begun to trickle out. Alexander Strategy paid Mr. DeLay's wife $115,000 in consulting fees while conducting business with Mr. Abramoff's firm. Mr. Abramoff also referred clients to Mr. Buckham.
Mr. Buckham and the firm also shared clients - among them an entity in Malaysia and the Choctaw Indian tribe in Mississippi - with Mr. Abramoff, who in his plea agreement admitted to using corrupting tactics with lawmakers on behalf of his clients. Mr. Abramoff also admitted to having defrauded his Indian clients of millions of dollars. At one point, Mr. Buckham even sought to hire Mr. Abramoff himself, participants in the case said.
Mr. Buckham and at least one member of his firm worked with domestic and overseas clients who prosecutors suspect helped funnel money and perks to Mr. DeLay, his fund-raising operations and other lawmakers in ways intended to curry favor with the Republican leadership.
And at one time, Americans for a Republican Majority, or Armpac, the leadership committee that raised money for Mr. DeLay, was run out of the offices of Alexander Strategy.
But the firm's web of contacts on Capitol Hill reaches past Mr. DeLay, making Alexander Strategy a potentially useful resource as investigators examine other lawmakers.
The firm's name surfaced at the periphery of the corruption investigation into Representative Randy Cunningham, Republican of California. Mr. Cunningham resigned after pleading guilty to accepting bribes from a defense contractor that did business with Alexander Strategy.
For years, Alexander Strategy was one of the crown jewels of the so-called K Street project, an effort Republicans began after taking control of Congress in 1994 to dominate the lobbying industry. The hope, exemplified by Mr. Buckham's company, was for Republican lobbyists to harness the power of their corporate clients to help keep the party in power for years to come.
The successful history of Alexander Strategy since its founding in the late 1990's offers a window into the nexus of Mr. Abramoff, Mr. DeLay and the lobbying world over the last decade or so of Republican control of Congress.
As Mr. DeLay grew more powerful in Congress, the lobbying firm rose in prominence on K Street, building an impressive roster of clients for such a young company and earning, according to records, about $8.8 million lobbying in 2004. That ranked it in the middle of the pack among Washington's largest lobbying firms, but its client list - including Microsoft, United Parcel Service, Time Warner, Freddie Mac and Eli Lilly & Company - suggests what was, at least at one time, a powerful and well-connected operation.
And Mr. DeLay, so intertwined with the lobbying world that his extensive network of allies and former aides scattered throughout town is nicknamed "DeLay Inc.," responded more quickly to calls from Alexander Strategy than he did for any other firm, former aides of his said.
One element prosecutors are trying to understand is what role Mr. DeLay played in sending business to the company. There is evidence, one participant in the case said, that it was "you hire these guys because Tom DeLay tells you to."
Mr. Buckham also ran the U.S. Family Network, a self-styled grassroots organization tied to Mr. DeLay that, according to The Washington Post, was financed almost entirely by clients and associates of Mr. Abramoff. People involved in the case said they expected investigators to examine whether Mr. DeLay cast a vote in Congress in exchange for donations to the network.
Another critical component of the investigation is the activities of Tony C. Rudy, a former DeLay deputy chief of staff who went to work with Mr. Abramoff as a lobbyist before joining Mr. Buckham at Alexander Strategy, where he still works. Mr. Rudy is mentioned - named only as "Staffer A" - in Mr. Abramoff's plea agreement, and investigators are looking into whether he helped secure legislative favors for Mr. Abramoff's clients in exchange for gifts and the promise of a future job while he was still on the DeLay staff.
Mr. Buckham and others from the firm have not responded to inquiries, and Mr. DeLay, through his spokesman, has said he is innocent of wrongdoing. Although investigators are looking at as many as a dozen lawmakers in the inquiry, they have not brought charges against them.
Richard Cullen, a lawyer for Mr. DeLay, pointed out that Mr. Rudy had not been named outright in any court documents.
"But if it turns out to be Mr. Rudy," Mr. Cullen said, "and if what Mr. Rudy did turns out to have been in any way improper, Tom DeLay is going to be very sad and very disappointed. Because he will feel betrayed, and he expects much, much more from his staff than activities like that."
As a result of Mr. Buckham's ties with Mr. DeLay and Mr. Abramoff, investigators are "keenly interested" in him, especially in connection with deals he may have brokered with Mr. DeLay and other lawmakers after going into the private sector, one participant in the case said.
"He allows the connection to be made to DeLay," another participant said of Mr. Buckham. All participants in the case were granted anonymity in interviews because Justice Department officials do not want people talking about it publicly.
Alexander Strategy's name has also surfaced in the course of a corruption investigation that implicates the defense lobbyist Brent Wilkes, who is an unnamed co-conspirator in the criminal case against former Representative Cunningham. Mr. Cunningham pleaded guilty in December to accepting $2.4 million in bribes from Mr. Wilkes and others. Mr. Wilkes's firm, Group W, also hired Alexander Strategy to do lobbying work, and Mr. DeLay used a plane partly owned by Mr. Wilkes.
The scandals swirling around the Alexander franchise, composed of roughly two dozen lobbyists at its offices on the waterfront in Georgetown, have delighted its former rivals while triggering concerns in the lobbying community that the entire business may be tarred.
Dick Armey, the former Republican House majority leader, who now works for the firm DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary and who clashed with Mr. DeLay in the House, invoked Charles Dickens, likening Mr. DeLay to Fagin and Mr. Buckham to the Artful Dodger in "Oliver Twist."
"Tom DeLay sent Buckham downtown to set up shop and start a branch office on K Street," Mr. Armey said. "The whole idea was, 'What's in it for us?' That's what I thought at the time, and I've seen nothing in the way they've conducted themselves since then to dissuade me from that point of view."
Mr. DeLay and a group of like-minded Republicans have spent years promoting Republicans for top lobbying positions in an attempt to counter decades in which Democrats controlled both Congress and K Street. The effort has caused several dustups over the years.
Mr. DeLay was rebuked by the House ethics committee in 1999 after allegedly badgering a trade association that chose a Democrat as its president, rather than the Republican candidate he favored.
Mr. DeLay's political action committee paid Alexander Strategy more than $300,000 for fund-raising and consulting services from 2000 to 2003, according to the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit group that tracks money in politics. In addition to Mr. Rudy, the firm also employed Karl Gallant, who headed Mr. DeLay's political action committee.
The firm has already been dropped by one client, MGM Mirage, the casino and resort giant, which retained it in 2004, paying about $350,000 to help block a maneuver by an Indian tribe in Michigan.
At the end of last year, MGM ended the relationship. Alan Feldman, a spokesman for MGM, said that the project had ended and that the firm's services were no longer needed. But Mr. Feldman acknowledged that the scrutiny surrounding Alexander Strategy was a concern. "It would be dishonest to say that it didn't come up in discussions," he said.
Other lobbyists and participants in the case said it would be difficult for the firm to survive this type of scrutiny with all of its clients and relationships intact.
"It's a double-edged sword, being known as DeLay Inc.," said one Republican lobbyist. "They are on the sharp edge of the sword now."
Schedule of Speakers at the 55th College Republican National Committee in 2003
DeLay Resigns as Majority Leader'The Hammer' Falls From Leadership Post
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, officially stepped down from the post today as he faces trial on conspiracy and money-laundering charges. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Jan. 7, 2006 — It's been quite a fall for Tom DeLay, R-Texas, the House majority leader who formally stepped down today as he awaits trial on charges of conspiracy and money laundering. He retains his seat in Congress but reliquishes his leadership role.
In addition to his own legal troubles, which include charges that he laundered campaign money used in state legislature races, DeLay's association with lobbyist Jack Abramoff has further hurt his reputation. Abramoff pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges of conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion in a corruption probe that has linked him with lawmakers from both parties.
Although DeLay had temporarily left his post, calls to replace him permanently had grown within the party.
"The situation is that Tom's legal situation doesn't seem to be reaching clarity," Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., told the Associated Press on Friday, before DeLay's announcement. "There are stories of more indictments or questions associated with Jack Abramoff. And I think that Tom DeLay is going to have to concentrate on that."
Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., has served as acting majority leader and has indicated he'd like the post permanently, although Kline said he supports Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, who is chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., is reported to be vying for consideration, and more candidates are sure to come forward.
DeLay insists he is innocent of the Texas charges. He has repeatedly accused the prosecutor, Ronnie Earle, of going after him as part of a political vendetta.
'The Hammer' Falls
During his time as majority leader, DeLay became known as a tough politician with a conservative agenda, a reputation he'd already solidified during his years in Congress, where he earned the nickname "The Hammer."
First elected to the House of Representatives in 1984, DeLay was elected majority whip in 1994 and became majority leader in 2002. He was a fervent supporter of the movement to impeach President Clinton, but he just as eagerly became part of a group that sought — and failed — to boot former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich from his post in 1997.
DeLay's legal troubles began in earnest in September 2004, when a Texas grand jury indicted three of his associates for allegedly using corporate funds to aid Republican candidates for election to the Texas legislature in 2002 through a political action committee DeLay worked with. Two of them were indicted on additional charges in the probe the following September.
At the same time, DeLay was reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee for creating the appearance of tying political donations to legislative favor, as well as for improperly seeking the help of the Federal Aviation Administration in a political dispute.
That November, House Republicans passed a rule that would have allowed DeLay to stay in the leadership position if he were indicted, but they reversed the controversial measure in January 2005.
DeLay's association with Abramoff came to light in the spring as the federal investigation against the lobbyist proceeded. DeLay denied knowing that Abramoff or his clients had paid for some of his overseas travel expenses, and he asked the House Ethics committee to investigate.
In April House Republicans got rid of Ethics Committee rules from earlier in the year that would have made it harder to pursue an ethics investigation — a move that Democrats said was designed to protect DeLay.
The Texas grand jury indicted DeLay on the conspiracy charge on Sept. 28 and on the money-laundering charge Oct. 3. He resigned temporarily with the first indictment but remained defiant.
"Let me be very, very clear," he said in a statement at the time. "I have done nothing wrong. I have violated no law, no regulation, no rule of the House."
'DeLay Inc.' Lobbying Firm Has Links to Three Capital Scandals
Published on Friday, January 6, 2006 by Bloomberg News
Representative Tom DeLay's campaign to get Republicans to dominate Washington lobbying may have worked too well for Alexander Strategy Group.
The firm has links to no fewer than three of the scandals convulsing the U.S. capital. One partner, former DeLay aide Tony Rudy, is now a focus of a federal investigation of lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The group's founder, former DeLay chief of staff Ed Buckham, set up a South Korea junket for his old boss that violated ethics rules. And the firm represents a company whose owner, prosecutors allege, bribed former Representative Randy Cunningham.
Alexander Strategy's links to lawmakers are an outgrowth of a decade-long effort by DeLay, 58, to force lobbying firms to hire more Republicans, who can direct corporate money to the party. The system, known as ``DeLay Inc.'' or ``the K Street Project,'' has fueled a surge of money in politics, and critics say it has also created the potential for greater corruption.
``Alexander Strategy Group is really part of DeLay Inc. and Abramoff Inc.,'' said Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor who now heads Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, an ethics watchdog group. ``There have been some aggressive prosecutors trying to unravel those ties. I am sure that Alexander Strategy is going to have more than Tony Rudy as a problem when this is over.''
Alexander's ties to DeLay, a Texas Republican and the former House majority leader, helped it become one of Washington's fastest-growing lobbying firms, with revenue surging 20-fold from 2000 to 2004, according to lobbying- disclosure reports.
Its DeLay ties go well beyond Rudy and Buckham. Jim Ellis, the head of DeLay's political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority, also worked for the firm as a lobbyist. Karl Gallant, who preceded Ellis as head of DeLay's political action committee, is currently an Alexander lobbyist. And the firm employed DeLay's wife, Christine, from 1998 to 2002, paying her from $3,200 to $3,400 a month, according to Richard Cullen, a lawyer for the former majority leader.
Another congressional spouse, Julia Doolittle, wife of California Republican John Doolittle, helped Alexander with bookkeeping for one of its clients, according to Justice Department records.
Ellis faces money-laundering charges in Texas along with DeLay, who was forced to give up his leadership post after his September indictment. The case involves his PAC's alleged attempts to steer corporate money to state legislative races.
From 2000 to 2003, the PAC paid at least $388,000 to Alexander in fund-raising fees, FEC and Internal Revenue Service records show.
Buckham and Rudy didn't return phone calls seeking comment. Cullen, DeLay's lawyer, denied his client engaged in any wrongdoing. DeLay ``knows that he has done nothing wrong,'' Cullen said on Jan. 3, after Abramoff pleaded guilty to conspiracy, mail fraud and tax evasion in the Justice Department investigation of political corruption.
The DeLay-Buckham connection helped Alexander thrive. The company, whose offices are along the Potomac River in Washington's fashionable Georgetown district, brought in $7.8 million in 2004, an average of $650,000 for each of its 12 registered lobbyists, according to disclosures filed with Congress. That compares with an average of about $250,000 per registered lobbyist last year at Patton Boggs LLP, Washington's biggest lobbying firm by revenue. Patton Boggs had revenue of $30.6 million in 2004.
Giving to Republicans
Some of Alexander's money found its way to the Republican Party. Its lobbyists gave at least $376,608 to Republican candidates and party committees since 2001, according to Federal Election Commission records. The 12 gave a total of $1,000 to Democrats during that period.
``The largest public image of DeLay Inc. would be Alexander Strategy Group,'' said Kent Cooper, a former FEC official who co-founded PoliticalMoneyLine, a Washington-based company that tracks political finance. The firm's relationships with DeLay and other lawmakers and spouses ``might be what prosecutors are looking at.''
Prosecutors are clearly looking at Rudy, 39, DeLay's former deputy staff chief. Abramoff's plea agreement states that in 2000 a DeLay aide the government called ``Staffer A'' helped the lobbyist defeat legislation that would have restricted Internet gambling. People familiar with the case later said the staffer was Rudy. In return, the wife of ``Staffer A'' was paid $50,000 through a charity, according to the plea. Rudy hasn't been charged with a crime.
In July 2000, DeLay was one of 44 Republicans who voted against the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, while 165 party members supported it. The legislation, which required 270 votes to pass, fell short by 25 votes.
Alexander was also employed by Abramoff associate Michael Scanlon, a former communications director for DeLay. Scanlon's public-relations company, Capitol Campaign Strategies LLC, paid $120,000 to the firm in 2002, according to records released by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in November.
Justice Department records show that Alexander was behind a nonprofit association -- the Korea-U.S. Exchange Council -- that was financed by South Korea's Hanwha Group and that flew DeLay to Korea in August 2001. Congressional ethics rules ban registered foreign agents from funding travel by members of Congress; the trip added to the cloud of controversy surrounding DeLay when it was reported by the Washington Post in March.
Alexander, whose lobbyists signed the council's tax returns, may be in violation of the law, says the IRS's former head of nonprofit groups. While the council is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit organization, its business-oriented purpose documented in Justice Department disclosures ``suggests tax-exempt status was not warranted,'' said Marcus Owens, who headed the IRS division of tax-exempt groups from 1990 to 2000.
Kelly Kramer, a lobbyist for the council at Nixon Peabody LLP, didn't return phone calls and e-mails asking for comment.
In the years before the Korea trip, Buckham and Abramoff had a close association. They used their credit cards to help pay for a 2000 trip to the U.K. for DeLay and his wife, the Washington Post reported in April. House rules bar members from accepting travel from registered lobbyists. DeLay's office said it had been told that a nonprofit group sponsored the trip.
``He is someone on our side,'' Buckham said of Abramoff in a 1995 interview with the National Journal. ``He has access to DeLay.''
The Cunningham Connection
One of the biggest clients Alexander landed was Group W Advisors, a San Diego-based defense consultant. The company is owned by Brent Wilkes, a businessman who is one of the four un- indicted co-conspirators in a Nov. 28 criminal complaint for allegedly bribing Cunningham, his lawyer, Michael Lipman, told USA Today. Cunningham pleaded guilty and resigned his House seat on Nov. 28.
Alexander took in at least $525,000 in fees from 2002 to 2004 from Group W to lobby on defense appropriations. Those appropriations are among the legislative favors Cunningham gave to receive his gifts, according to the former lawmaker's plea agreement. It isn't clear what role, if any, Alexander strategists had. Lipman didn't return a call seeking comment.
Abramoff probe edges closer to Tom DeLay
Updated: 1/4/2006 12:32 PM
By: Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- Prosecutors expect to get a lot of information from lobbyist Jack Abramoff as a result of a deal that clears that way for a widespread Capitol Hill corruption probe.
Prosecutors say Abramoff is telling them about alleged bribes to lawmakers and their aides on issues ranging from Internet gambling to wireless phone service in the House.
Court papers in the case refer to an aide to then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay who helped stop anti-gambling legislation regarding the Internet. The papers say Abramoff paid the staffer's wife $50,000 from clients that benefited from the staffer's actions.
DeLay, a Texas Republican, voted against his party on the Internet anti-gambling legislation that was designed to make it easier for authorities to stop online gambling sites.
DeLay attorney Richard Cullen said the investigation will show his client did nothing wrong.
DeLay to give Abramoff-linked campaign contributions to charity
WASHINGTON -- A spokesman said Congressman Tom DeLay will give to charities campaign contributions linked to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
DeLay spokesman Kevin Madden disclosed the former U.S. House majority leader's intentions in an e-mail on Wednesday.
The Sugar Land Republican received at least $57,000 in political contributions from Abramoff, his lobbying associates or his tribal clients between 2001 and 2004.
DeLay is now awaiting trial in Austin on charges of laundering campaign money used in races for the state legislature.
Abramoff pleaded guilty on Tuesday to three corruption-related charges. Prosecutors expect details from Abramoff as a result of a plea deal that clears that way for a widespread Capitol Hill corruption probe.
Prosecutors say Abramoff is telling them about alleged bribes to lawmakers and their aides on issues ranging from Internet gambling to wireless phone service in the House.
Bush campaign also returning contributions
WASHINGTON -- President Bush's re-election campaign is returning thousands of dollars in contributions tied to lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
A day after Abramoff admitted bribing members of Congress, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said the money will be donated to the American Heart Association.
As a so-called “pioneer,'' Abramoff raised at least $100,000 for Bush's 2004 effort.
However, McClellan indicates the amount returned will be less than that. Since the campaign has gone out of business, the Republican National Committee will make the donation.
McClellan said the president doesn't know Abramoff. But the spokesman acknowledges Bush may have met the lobbyist at one of three White House Hanukkah receptions he attended.
"When one of my closest and dearest friends, Jack Abramoff, your most able representative in Washington, D.C., invited me to the islands, I wanted to see firsthand the free-market success and the progress and reform you have made."- House Majority Leader Tom DeLay during a New Year's trip he and Abramoff both took to Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands in 1997.
Upon his return to Washington, DeLay helped win an extended exemption from federal immigration and labor laws for Abramoff's clients in the islands' garment industry.
Lobbyist to plead guilty to fraud, other charges
Abramoff agrees to cooperate with federal prosecutors
Lobbyist Jack Abramoff has entered a cooperation deal with federal prosecutors, a source says.
Tuesday, January 3, 2006 Posted: 1605 GMT (0005 HKT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former high-powered lobbyist Jack Abramoff will plead guilty Tuesday to corruption, fraud and tax evasion charges in a deal with federal prosecutors, a source close to the negotiations told CNN.
Abramoff has reached an agreement that would spare him the maximum 10-year sentence if he cooperates in an ongoing Washington corruption probe, the source said.
Abramoff is a longtime associate of several top GOP leaders, including former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Americans for Tax Reform director Grover Norquist, and former Christian Coalition chief Ralph Reed. (Watch details of the deal -- 4:11)
Abramoff's cooperation deal could have a wide-reaching effect in Washington.
Sources told CNN's Ed Henry that the former lobbyist may have thousands of e-mails in which he describes influence-peddling and explains what lawmakers were doing in exchange for the money he was putting into their campaign coffers.
The source close to the investigation said investigators are looking at about half a dozen members of Congress.
Sources said Abramoff has been cooperating with the Justice Department for months without any kind of plea deal. He will not be sentenced until his cooperation is complete, the source added. (Read a summary of the charges -- PDF)
Michael Scanlon, another former Abramoff associate, pleaded guilty in November in a separate case in Washington.
Prosecutors accused Scanlon in court papers of conspiring 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" benefiting Scanlon and his lobbyist partner.
The partner is identified in the court documents only as Lobbyist A and is not facing charges in the corruption investigation. One government official told CNN that Lobbyist A is Abramoff.
The government alleged that between January 2000 and April 2004, Scanlon and the lobbyist "would falsely represent to their clients that certain of the funds were being used for specific purposes."
In fact, prosecutors said, "Scanlon and Lobbyist A would use those funds for their own personal benefit and not for the benefit of their clients."
"It was a purpose of the conspiracy for Scanlon and Lobbyist A 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 prosecutors said.
Prosecutors also detailed a "stream of things of value" given to an unnamed congressman, identified in the court documents as Representative No. 1.
The items listed include a "lavish" trip to Scotland to play golf, tickets to sporting events and campaign contributions to the representative and his political action committee in exchange for a series of actions by that representative.
The Justice Department would not identify the congressman. But government sources have said he is Republican Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio, chairman of the House Administration Committee.
In the court documents, prosecutors alleged Scanlon and Lobbyist A got the lawmaker "to perform a series of official acts."
Ney denies wrongdoing
According to the documents, those acts included supporting bills, placing statements in the Congressional Record, meeting with the lobbyists' clients and supporting a client of Abramoff's in a bid to win a contract for wireless telephone service for the House of Representatives.
Ney is known to have entered comments in the Congressional Record against a man standing in the way of an Abramoff project, and he took a 2002 golf trip to Scotland that Abramoff sponsored.
Ney's office has said that any allegation that the congressman "did anything illegal or improper is false."
Ney is the only member of Congress to disclose that he has been subpoenaed as part of the investigation -- a step required under House rules.
Abramoff's name also surfaced earlier this year amid ethics questions about DeLay, a longtime friend. The Washington Post has reported DeLay took two expensive overseas trips that Abramoff and other lobbyists bankrolled -- a violation of House rules, if true.
DeLay has denied wrongdoing, calling the report "just another seedy attempt by the liberal media to embarrass me."
DeLay, who himself is facing money laundering charges, was forced to step down from his leadership position in September after he was indicted on conspiracy charges that were later dropped.
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, Kevin Bohn and Ed Henry contributed to this report.