|Tom DeLay- Corporate Whore|
Ex-DeLay Aide Reportedly to Plead Guilty
WASHINGTON - Tony Rudy, a former top aide to Rep. Tom DeLay, has agreed to plead guilty to charges in the widening federal investigation of lobbyist fraud, a law enforcement official said Friday.
A hearing was scheduled Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington, where Rudy was expected to enter his plea.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has not yet been filed with the court.
Rudy would be the first person to plead guilty to charges in the case since Jack Abramoff, once a leading GOP lobbyist, pleaded guilty to fraud charges in January.
Rudy was referred to in court papers released in connection with Abramoff's plea. The documents referred to Rudy as Staffer A, and said that Abramoff, on behalf of clients who wanted to stop Internet gambling and postal rate legislation, paid $50,000 in 10 equal monthly payments beginning in June 2000 to Rudy's wife while Rudy was a top aide to DeLay.
DeLay wants concealed handgun permit back
Gun license was suspended after ex-majority leader's indictment last year
Updated: 5:18 a.m. ET March 28, 2006
RICHMOND, Texas - Rep. Tom DeLay is fighting to regain his concealed handgun permit after it was suspended because of his indictment on felony charges.
A justice of the peace suspended DeLay’s license in January after the former majority leader was indicted last year. A judge dismissed a conspiracy charge, but DeLay still faces a felony charge of money laundering.
Under state law, the Texas Department of Public Safety can suspend a handgun license if its holder has been charged with certain misdemeanors or higher.
DeLay, a vocal gun rights proponent, has appealed the suspension and has asked for a new hearing after missing a Jan. 26 court date.
“Without objection, they (the Department of Public Safety) presented a copy of an indictment,” Justice of the Peace Jim Richard said. “And that was about it for the case.”
Steve Brittain, one of DeLay’s Austin attorneys, filed the appeal March 14. A hearing date has not been set.
Steve Moninger, an attorney for the Department of Public Safety, which administers the handgun licensing law, said the state will contest the appeal.
“We are going to keep going. Our function is to enforce the statute,” Moninger said.
Brittain did not return telephone messages left Monday.
DeLay spokeswoman Shannon Flaherty said neither Brittain nor DeLay was able to make the original court hearing.
Flaherty would not say whether DeLay needs a handgun permit. In a written statement, she said, “As for whether or not he carries it — that’s the point of having a CHL (concealed handgun license) in Texas, potential criminals should assume everyone is.”
The indictment cost DeLay his leadership post. He won his Republican primary election earlier this month and faces former Democratic Rep. Nick Lampson in the Nov. 7 general election.
DeLay aide got thousands from non-profit
The Washington Post
Published March 26, 2006
WASHINGTON -- A top adviser to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) received nearly a third of all the money collected by the U.S. Family Network, a non-profit organization the adviser created to promote a pro-family agenda in Congress, according to the group's accounting records.
DeLay's former chief of staff, Edwin Buckham, who helped create the group while still in DeLay's employ, and his wife were the principal beneficiaries of the group's $3.23 million in revenues, collecting payments totaling $996,754 during a five-year period ending in 2001, public and private records show.
The group's revenue was drawn mostly from clients of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to its records. An FBI subpoena for the records appears to indicate the bureau is exploring whether the payments were linked to favorable legislative treatment of Abramoff's clients by DeLay's office.
In recent months, Abramoff pleaded guilty to charges of tax fraud and conspiracy; DeLay has stepped down from his post as House majority leader; and Buckham has folded his lobbying firm.
Some DeLay Charges May Be Reinstated
March 24, 2006
By APRIL CASTRO Associated Press Writer
© 2006 The Associated Press
AUSTIN, Texas — Prosecutors will try to persuade a Texas appeals court Wednesday to reinstate some of the criminal charges against Rep. Tom DeLay, who is trying to win re-election to Congress while under indictment.
In December, a judge threw out some of the conspiracy and money laundering charges against the former House majority leader, saying the conspiracy law DeLay allegedly violated did not exist at the time.
Prosecutors say that it did. Both sides will argue their cases before the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals.
DeLay, who will not attend the hearing, said charges shouldn't be restored and blamed the case on politics. He also said he's frustrated with the proceedings.
"It's been almost 120 days that this frivolous appeal has been before the 3rd Circuit," DeLay said Tuesday in Houston. "I would hope that they would come to a speedy resolution on a matter that would, I think, take a first-year law student an hour to make a ruling on."
Because of the dispute, no trial date has been set.
DeLay is accused of funneling illegal corporate donations to Republican candidates for the Texas House. The Republicans went on to win control of the Legislature in 2002 and pushed through a DeLay-engineered redistricting plan that helped Texas send more Republicans to Congress in 2004.
Richard Murray, director of the Center for Public Policy at the University of Houston, said the prosecutors' appeal serves to "drag this case out and the congressman really doesn't need that."
"Tom DeLay needs this case to move forward to a favorable resolution before November," Murray said. "Every time he's mentioned in the press, it's 'indicted, indicted, indicted' and that's corrosive."
DeLay faces Democratic former Rep. Nick Lampson in November, in what could be the congressman's most serious challenge since voters in his Houston-area district sent him to Capitol Hill in 1984.
Lampson was defeated for re-election to the House two years ago following the redrawing of the congressional map. That map is now at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court case over whether it was created in an overly partisan way.
Lampson campaign manager Mike Malaise said the hearing Wednesday points again to "all the ethical problems surrounding Tom DeLay."
"This one just kind of adds to the overall picture of Tom DeLay as someone who's been doing for himself in Washington rather than doing for the people of southeast Texas," he said.
Texas holds best ‘secret election’ money can buy
Author: Paul Hill and Jim Lane
People's Weekly World Newspaper, 03/16/06 15:20
HOUSTON — Texas held its March 7 primary election in virtual secrecy. Only 5.3 percent of the electorate voted in the Republican primary and 4.1 percent in the Democratic primary.
Pundits marveled over how much money was spent on so few voters. There was virtually no mainstream media coverage before the election other than political ads featuring Tom DeLay’s grinning face. Most people on the street, when asked about the election, were surprised to hear there was one.
Indicted Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Sugar Land) won the Republican nomination with 62 percent, down from over 80 percent in the 2004 primary. Democrats relish the coming match-up between DeLay — mired in corruption and a record of consistently fighting for the interests of the wealthy — and labor-backed Nick Lampson, who has a record of fighting for working people.
It appears many Democrats may have voted for DeLay. Some observers speculate that without a significant crossover vote, DeLay would have faced a primary runoff. In 2004 about 16,000 votes were cast in the Republican primary in DeLay’s district and over 10,000 in the Democratic primary. This time over 33,000 voted in the Republican primary and just over 2,000 in the Democratic primary, with DeLay getting over 20,000 votes. In Texas it is legal to cross over to the opposing party from one primary to the next.
In any case, the primary was costly for DeLay in time and energy, while Lampson is well funded, rested and has a bone to pick as a victim of DeLay’s notorious redistricting scheme. Lampson is campaigning on supporting working families over multinational corporations, and has strongly opposed tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs overseas.
In 16 contested state races that drew AFL-CIO COPE endorsements, nine of the labor-backed candidates won. Three more are hoping to win runoff elections on April 11.
The most disappointing race for progressives was the Democratic primary contest between Henry Cuellar and Ciro Rodriguez in San Antonio. Cuellar, who narrowly avoided a runoff with Rodriguez, will run unopposed in November. Rodriguez had strong support from labor, but Cuellar got the first-ever endorsement of a Democrat by the right-wing Republican Club for Growth, a free-market advocacy group with over 34,000 members.
Cuellar has repeatedly enraged Democrats by his collaborative relationship with Republicans. He supported George Bush in 2000, although he backed Kerry in 2004. Cuellar supported CAFTA and is viewed as pro-globalization, but voted for labor issues nine out of 16 times.
In a highly unusual move, 15 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives contributed to Rodriguez. Many suspect that Republicans redrew the district to benefit Cuellar, who served as secretary of state under Bush’s successor, Republican Gov. Rick Perry.
In one display of Texas extravagance (and megalomania), school voucher zealot billionaire Dr. James Leininger of San Antonio spent $3 million targeting Republican representatives who had voted against tax-paid private school vouchers. It appears Leininger’s candidates won two out of five races.
One incumbent, Carter Casteel, lost her bid for re-election by 44 votes. Though Casteel raised nearly $400,000 for her campaign, Leininger spent $800,000 on her opponent, hiring professionals who ran slick attack-ad campaigns filled with distorted information.
Casteel, who has decided to ask for a recount, said after initially conceding, “What this means is that no representative can take an independent vote because someone with money might take issue with it. … I want to make sure a schoolteacher’s $10 donation means as much as the millions someone else has to spend. Let me tell you, the Republican Party is in trouble. And we’ve got to do what we can to save it.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Carlos Uresti defeated Sen. Frank Medla in a Democratic primary in San Antonio Senate District 19. Uresti pounded Medla on his voting record, which supported privatization and cuts in benefits to the working poor. Uresti is recognized as a champion of a social services system to help the working poor and those with mental illness and mental retardation.
Progressives in Texas are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Tom DeLay’s congressional redistricting shenanigans. The ruling is expected before July 1 and could result in boosting progressives in the November election.
Prosecutors seek new data in DeLay case
AUSTIN - Prosecutors pursuing conspiracy and money laundering charges against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on Wednesday sought campaign finance documents from a decade-old congressional campaign in East Texas.
The subpoena requests documents that name contributions from businessman Peter F. Cloeren, who pleaded guilty to directing illegal corporate money into Republican Brian Babin's 1996 campaign for Congress.
In an affidavit signed in 1998, Cloeren said DeLay urged him to evade campaign finance laws and funnel more money than legally allowed into the Babin campaign. DeLay denied the accusation.
DeLay, a Sugar Land Republican, is awaiting trial on conspiracy and money laundering charges and denies those charges as well.
The state judge presiding over the case has said he will not enforce the subpoenas while the case is on appeal.
"The reality is, Jack Abramoff and I were not close personal friends. I met with him only occasionally…"- Tom Delay 2/6/2006
CONTRIBUTIONS — DELAY RECEIVED $65,000 FROM ABRAMOFF: “Since 1997, Abramoff and his wife have contributed $40,000 to DeLay’s political action committees, and last year the Capital Athletic Foundation [Abramoff’s bogus charity] donated $25,000 to the DeLay Foundation for Kids, a charity the lawmaker founded. Abramoff has long been a member of DeLay’s Congressional Council, which DeLay describes in promotional materials as a ’special group of supporters.” In January 2006, DeLay pledged to donate $57,000 of the contributions to charity. [Washington Post, 9/28/04; Washington Post, 1/5/06]
GIFTS — DELAY ACCEPTED EXPENSIVE GIFTS FROM ABRAMOFF: “DeLay was Abramoff’s guest at skyboxes Abramoff maintained at MCI Center and the Redskins’ FedEx Field, and his staff members were flown to a Super Bowl game in Florida and to the U.S. Open in Pebble Beach, Calif.” [Washington Post, 9/30/05]
CRONYISM — ABRAMOFF HELPED RUDY OBTAIN HIGH-POWERED LOBBYING JOB: Tony Rudy, former deputy chief of staff to DeLay, left the congressional office in 2001 for a lucrative lobbying position obtained with the help of Abramoff. E-mails between Rudy and Abramoff reveal that Rudy “was in close contact with a future employer [Abramoff] about issues in which the employer had an interest.” Federal prosecutors “are examining whether he [Abramoff] brokered lucrative jobs for Congressional aides at powerful lobbying firms in exchange for legislative favors.” Rudy is now at the Alexander Strategy Group, run by Buckham, another former DeLay aide. [Business Week, 7/11/05; New York Times, 12/2/05]
COUSHATTA CAMPAIGN — DELAY ORGANIZED HASTERT, BLUNT, AND CANTOR TO BACK ABRAMOFF EFFORT: One of Abramoff’s tribal clients, the Coushattas, “opposed a plan by the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians to open a casino at a non-reservation site, expected at the time to be outside Shreveport, La., not far from a casino owned by the Coushattas.” Abramoff lobbied DeLay’s office to organize a June 10, 2003, letter to Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton endorsing a view of gambling law benefiting the Coushattas. The letter was eventually co-signed by DeLay, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Deputy Whip Eric I. Cantor (R-VA), a “group of people, who do not normally weigh in on Indian issues.” [Washington Post, 9/28/04]
SUNCRUZ — BURNS AND DELAY STAFFERS ACCEPTED SUPER BOWL TRIP FROM ABRAMOFF, SUNCRUZ: Two Burns staff members “traveled to the 2001 Super Bowl on the Abramoff corporate jet, along with several staffers from the office of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.).” The trip was funded by Abramoff-owned SunCruz, a Florida casino cruise line, and “staffers were taken out to a Suncruz gambling ship during the trip.” [Washington Post, 3/1/05]
MARIANA ISLANDS — DELAY ACCEPTED ABRAMOFF TRIP TO SAIPAN: Abramoff “arranged a lavish overseas trip to the island of Saipan for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, over the New Year’s holiday in 1997. DeLay, his wife and daughter, and several aides, stayed for free at a beachfront resort.” The trip “was part of an effort by former aide Jack Abramoff to stop legislation aimed at cracking down on sweatshops and sex shops in the American territory, which is known as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.” Abramoff was paid $1.36 million by Saipan officials. On that trip, DeLay promised a prominent factory owner that he would use his position to stop the reform laws: “[I]f they elect me majority whip, I make the schedule of the Congress, and I’m not going to put it on the schedule.” [ABC, 4/6/05]
TRIP (RUSSIA, 1997) — DELAY AND BUCKHAM ACCEPTED ABRAMOFF TRIP TO RUSSIA: Abramoff also set up a legally questionable six-day trip to Moscow for DeLay in 1997, arranged by “Ed Buckham, a lobbyist and former DeLay staffer and spiritual advisor, who also traveled with DeLay to Russia.” Abramoff eventually joined them in Moscow. The $57,000 trip was “underwritten by business interests lobbying in support of the Russian government” and allegedly paid for by a DC non-profit, the National Center for Public Policy Research. But sources involved in planning the trip revealed that an Abramoff client, Chelsea Commercial Enterprises, which was registered in the Bahamas and deeply involved with Russian oil executives, actually paid for the trip. “House ethics rules bar the acceptance of travel reimbursement from registered lobbyists and foreign agents.” [Washington Post, 4/6/05]
TRIP (SCOTLAND, 2000) — DELAY ACCEPTED ABRAMOFF TRIP TO LONDON AND SCOTLAND: In 2000, Abramoff arranged another trip for DeLay, his wife, and several congressional staff members, allegedly through the nonprofit National Center for Public Policy Research, as in the Russia trip. But DeLay’s airfare to London and Scotland was charged to Abramoff’s American Express card. While in Europe, the guests played golf at St. Andrews and attended the musical The Lion King. “House ethics rules bar lawmakers from accepting travel and related expenses from registered lobbyists.” “Multiple sources, including DeLay’s then-chief of staff Susan Hirschmann, have confirmed that DeLay’s congressional office was in direct contact with Preston Gates [Abramoff’s lobbying firm] about the trip itinerary before DeLay’s departure, to work out details of his travel.” [Washington Post, 4/24/05; New York Times, 4/25/05]
TRIP (KOREA, 2001) — DELAY ACCEPTED ABRAMOFF TRIP TO KOREA: In 2001, DeLay, his wife, and staff, including Buckham, took a “$106,921 educational and golfing trip…to Korea on the tab of a registered foreign agent — a violation of House rules.” Similar to the arrangement in the Russia trip, the funding “was funneled through a Washington tax-exempt group and the trip arranged by longtime DeLay associate Jack Abramoff.” [Salon, 4/8/05]
"I don't know him," Bush said.
Abramoff Interview: Lobbyist Details Relationship With Bush, DeLay, Burns
Vanity Fair is set to publish an in-depth interview with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Abramoff sheds new light on his close relationships with top conservatives, including some not typically associated with the Abramoff scandals like Ken Mehlman and Newt Gingrich. Some choice quotes:
On President Bush:
President Bush, who claims not to remember having his picture taken with Abramoff. According to Abramoff, at one time, the president joked with Abramoff about his weight lifting past: “What are you benching, buff guy?”
On former Rove deputy Ken Mehlman:
According to documents obtained by Vanity Fair, Mehlman exchanged e-mail with Abramoff, and did him political favors (such as preventing Clinton administration alumnus Allen Stayman from keeping a State Department job), had Sabbath dinner at Abramoff’s house, and offered to pick up Abramoff’s tab at Signatures, Abramoff’s own restaurant.
On Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX):
Abramoff has “admired Tom DeLay and his family from the first meeting with him,” he tells Margolick. “We would sit and talk about the Bible. We would sit and talk about opera. We would sit and talk about golf,” Abramoff recalls. “I mean, we talked about philosophy and politics.”
On Newt Gingrich:
Newt Gingrich, whose spokesman Rick Tyler tells Margolick that “Before [Abramoff’s] picture appeared on TV and in the newspapers, Newt wouldn’t have known him if he fell across him. He hadn’t seen him in 10 years.” A rankled Abramoff says “I have more pictures of [Newt] than I have of my wife.”
On Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT):
Abramoff says: “Every appropriation we wanted [from Burns’s committee] we got. Our staffs were as close as they could be. They practically used Signatures as their cafeteria. I mean, it’s a little difficult for him to run from that record.”
Despite the magnitude of his crimes, however, Abramoff says that imprisoning him would only deprive society of his teaching and/or janitorial talents:
Abramoff … tells [Vanity Fair] that sending him to prison is “stupid,” saying, “Let me teach English, history, music. Or let me sweep floors at the reservation. Instead you’ll be paying to feed me to sit in a jail.”
Lobbyist's Credit Card Bill Outs DeLay Trip
Delay's Trip to Golf Resort Paid for by Abramoff
March 2, 2006 — - The paper trail seems so obvious it makes you wonder whether anyone ever worried about getting caught. When Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and his wife flew from Houston to a golf resort in Scotland in June 2000, the first-class airfare cost $14,001, a big-ticket item for a public servant. But someone else paid.
The American Express bills of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to fraud charges in January, show he footed the bill for the tickets, in an apparent violation of House ethics rules.
"The source of the travel expenses may not be ... a registered lobbyist," according to the House rules. Abramoff was a registered lobbyist at the time.
DeLay's attorney told The Washington Post last year that DeLay was unaware of the "logistics" of bill payments and did not believe Abramoff paid for the tickets.
"This is a classic example of why the ethics rules have to be reformed," said Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21, a nonprofit watchdog group. "The Scotland trip was a trip to play golf, pure and simple, and private interests should not be allowed to finance those kinds of trips and gain influence with members in return."
Abramoff pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy, honest-services mail fraud and tax evasion. Officials said Abramoff had brought corruption to a new level at the Capitol.
"The corruption scheme with Mr. Abramoff was very extensive, and the investigation continues," said Alice Fisher, the head of the Department of Justice's criminal division.
One aspect of Abramoff's corruption scheme was the free trips he provided to politicians to the Super Bowl, a golf resort in Scotland and to the northern Mariana Islands in the South Pacific.
An ABC News hidden camera recorded Abramoff greeting and hugging DeLay as he arrived in the northern Marianas.
DeLay, the former House majority leader, was only one congressman out of dozens who accepted the lobbyist's trips and campaign contributions.
"There are many members of Congress who will not sleep well tonight," said Wertheimer at the time of the investigation. "This is a blockbuster of an investigation that will reach deep inside the power structure."
Federal authorities told ABC News that Abramoff began providing details of his dealings with DeLay and pinpointing a long list of senators and representatives more than a year ago.
At least nine have since returned Abramoff's campaign contributions, and all, including DeLay, have denied any wrongdoing.
Officials told ABC News that the first congressman to be indicted for bribery is expected to be Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio.
ABC News' Gina Sunseri contributed to this report
The Texas Gerrymander
March 1, 2006
The redrawing of election districts in Texas in 2003, which Tom DeLay helped engineer to make the state's Congressional delegation more Republican, lands in the Supreme Court today. Democrats are asking the court to rule that the plan is unconstitutional and violates the Voting Rights Act. The court should strike down the plan. It should also use the case to set limits on this kind of politically motivated drawing of districts by both parties, a practice that is making voters increasingly irrelevant.
Texas's 2003 redistricting was an extreme case of partisan gerrymandering. The state's Congressional lines had already been redrawn once, after the 2000 census, producing additional Republican seats in a way that a federal court decided was fair. But when Republicans took control of the state government, they decided to do a highly unusual second redistricting. Democratic state legislators protested and fled the state to deny the Republicans a quorum. But Texas eventually adopted a plan that tilted the state's delegation even further in the Republicans' favor.
The Supreme Court has acknowledged that partisan gerrymandering can violate the Constitution, but it has had trouble setting out a workable standard. In a Pennsylvania case two years ago, Justice Anthony Kennedy cast the deciding vote to dismiss a gerrymandering claim, but he suggested that courts could intervene in such cases "if some limited and precise rationale" could be found for doing so. In the Texas case, Democrats put forward such a standard: that "the Constitution prohibits legislators from redrawing election districts in the middle of a decade solely to achieve partisan advantage."
The Texas plan should be struck down on that ground, and because it violates the principle of one person one vote. More than a million people were added to the Texas population between the census and the 2003 redistricting. These new arrivals were not distributed equally, and it is likely that they were disproportionately Hispanic. The state used outdated 2000 population data to draw the 2003 lines, producing districts that failed to give all of the state's voters equal representation in Congress.
The Texas voters challenging the plan also make a strong claim that it violates the Voting Rights Act. The Justice Department signed off on the plan, but in doing so, as The Washington Post reported, its political appointees overruled the unanimous conclusion of six lawyers and two analysts in the voting rights section who had concluded that the new lines illegally reduced black and Hispanic voting strength.
Partisan gerrymandering should be a bipartisan issue because both parties have been hurt by it and no doubt will be again. Its real victims, though, are the voters.
Nationally, the lines drawn for 2002 produced the least competitive Congressional elections in history — challengers beat just four incumbents, and fewer than 40 races were even minimally competitive. If the Supreme Court permits those drawing legislative lines to use high-powered computers to create district lines that predetermine the outcomes of all but a handful of Congressional races, America may need to come up with another word for its form of government, because "democracy" will hardly apply.