Sunday, October 31, 2004

Why weaken an anti-terrorism measure? Follow the money.

The Daily DeLay: T-Minus 2 Days and Counting
Did Tom DeLay Weaken an Anti-Terrorism Measure to Help Out His Donors?

[Campaign Money Watch is running a radio ad about this.]

In 2003, Congress debated and passed the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act. President George W. Bush signed it into law on Dec. 12, 2003.

The initial version of the legislation, as passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, included language mandating flight attendants to obtain security training in the post-9/11 environment. The measure was supported by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) and it direct the federal officials to establish minimum guidelines for security training that all flight attendants would be required to complete.

But, according to the AFA, as the compromise was hammered out between the House and the Senate, a provision that weakened the security training -- by making it voluntary, not mandatory -- was "ordered to be inserted" by DeLay.

Airlines ad opposed the requirement, complaining about its cost, and they apparently found an ally in the Majority Leader. "Found" may be the wrong word. The airline industry has contributed $159,000 since 1997 to Tom DeLay's congressional candidate committee.

In a post-9/11 world, flight attendants said at the time that for some of them, the only option is to pay for the security training out of their own pockets.

DeLay's friends from Westar are in trouble

I could have mentioned all this additonal Westar scandal in the Daily DeLay a few days back, but I thought it was just too much... But then along comes the New York Times to sum it all up.

The choice quote, from our perspective:

"The DeLay thing is an interesting additional, just another example of how we all were getting shafted when the leaders of this company were doing Lord knows what," said Dr. Roy Lacoursiere, 67, a physician and former shareholder in Westar. "This is Topeka, not Houston or New York; we're only a city of about a hundred thou-plus. It all makes one kind of sick."

Saturday, October 30, 2004

What a local GOP leader says about DeLay

The Daily DeLay: T-Minus 3 Days and Counting
From the Fort Bend Star

Today, the Daily DeLay simply is an excerpted column that appeared on October 20th in the Fort Bend Star, a local paper in DeLay's district. It was written by B.K. Carter, who is the owner and publisher of the newspaper and a sitting Republican precinct chair. It is perhaps the most comprehensive summary of who Tom DeLay is.

"In case you missed it, our current U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, called "The Hammer" by certain political types, was snubbed by the Houston Chronicle on Sunday. The Chronicle, which endorsed both Republicans and Democrats on its editorial page, endorsed DeLay's Democratic challenger, Richard Morrison.

"But what has he done for us lately?.....I could write reams and reams about the things Tom DeLay has done that I disagree with since he was elected to Congress. In brief, he has tried to gut the EPA and OSHA; he has taken money from and supported sweatshops in the Mariana Islands; he has started a fund-raising operation in Washington the likes of which no one has ever seen before--a fund-raising operation that can't help but distort the political process; he has almost single-handedly turned politics from a process of non-partisan co-operation for the betterment of the whole people to a system of hatred of the other party where no accommodations can be made to affect significant legislation and only the well-heeled are heeded."


Read the whole column here.

Friday, October 29, 2004

The Westar Fantasy

The Daily DeLay: T-Minus 4 Days and Counting
DeLay and the Westar Scandal: A Special Interest Fantasy


Tom DeLay and Kansas-based energy company Westar Corporation had a cozy relationship. Too cozy.

DeLay was rebuked by the House Ethics Committee for "participating in, and helping facilitate, a two-day golf fund-raiser held by a Topeka-based energy company, Westar, to raise money for one of his political action committees. The event took place just as the House was considering energy legislation from which Westar stood to benefit; the panel said that at a minimum, it 'created an appearance that donors were being provided special access to you regarding the then-pending energy legislation.'" (New York Times, 10/7/04)

There's more: the Washington Post uncovered a story last year that exposed the dealings between DeLay, other members of Congress, and Westar.

According to the newspaper reports, one executive of Westar sent his colleagues an email saying that he had developed a "plan for participation to get a seat at the table" of the House-Senate conference committee on the Bush administration's energy plan, which would dole out $27 billion in targeted tax breaks for companies like Westar.

"The total of the package," continued the Westar exec's email, "will be $31,500 in hard money (individual), and $25,000 in soft money (corporate)." In addition, "$11,500 in immediate needs for a group of candidates associated with Tom DeLay, Billy Tauzin, Joe Barton and Senator Richard Shelby."

The punchline of the email:

"[DeLay's] agreement is necessary before the House Conferees can push the language we have in place in the House bill."

Public Campaign's OUCH! bulletin described what Westar wanted:

"Westar was seeking relief from regulatory oversight that would have allowed it to transfer $3 billion in debt off its balance sheets and, potentially, onto the monthly bills of consumers through rate hikes."

Thirteen Westar officials contributed $31,500 to the candidates they were told to support and the company gave $25,000 to Texans for a Republican Majority PAC, a committee closely tied to DeLay. Later, Westar was indicted in the on-going TRMPAC investigation led by Travis County District Attorney's office for illegally making corporate contributions to influence Texas elections.

More from Public Campaign's OUCH!... After the donations,

"Rep. Barton put the company's exemption into the law, with Reps. DeLay, Tauzin and Barton all voting to keep it there when Democrats tried to strip it out. Later it was withdrawn after a grand jury started investigating the company for securities fraud."

DeLay's spokesman responded by saying, "When people contribute to Delay or causes he supports, they are supporting his agenda, we are not supporting theirs. We have no control over any fantasies they might have about what they might get for a campaign contribution."

Whatever you say.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Breaking News: DeLay Goes Negative

The Daily DeLay: T-Minus 6 Days and Counting
BREAKING NEWS: DeLay Goes Negative

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has started running negative ads against his opponent, Richard Morrison. Clearly, DeLay is in trouble. There is no other explanation.

From the House Race Hotline:

DELAY
Whoa! DeLay Up With Attack Ads?

From an ad for Maj. Leader Tom DeLay, titled "Why," ANNCR: "Why are Richard Morrison [D] and his liberal friends running a negative campaign against Tom DeLay? To hide his plan to raise your taxes. And Richard Morrison supports John Kerry's weak and indecisive foreign policy over President Bush's leadership on the war on terror. How liberal is he? He campaigned with Howard Dean and supports radical Michael Moore's campaign to defeat President Bush. Richard Morrison is perfect for John Kerry but not for us." DELAY: "I'm Tom DeLay and I approved this message."

Time to respond by running more ads. DeLay is feeling the heat -- let's keep the pressure on him.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Dep't of Partisan Security: Another example of "I am the federal government."

The Daily DeLay: T-Minus 7 Days and Counting
DeLay Calls on Federal Agency to Help Track Down Political Opponents

From the New York Times on October 7, 2004:

"Representative Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, was admonished by the House ethics committee on Wednesday night for the second time in less than a week, this time for appearing to link legislative action to political donations and for sending federal officials to search for Texas legislators during a fracas over redistricting in that state."

Translation:

DeLay had staffers call federal officials to track down and locate the plane of Texas State Representative Pete Laney (D) on suspicions that Laney's plane was transporting state lawmakers away from Texas to avoid a quorum in Austin. The Texas State Legislature was due to take up DeLay's redistricting plan.

The evidence:

According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center,

"The May 12, 2003 audio recording of telephone conversations between the FAA's Washington Operations Center and various FAA field employees clearly indicate that the FAA employees were misled into believing that the request from DeLay's office was part of 1) a formal Congressional investigation; 2) a formal Congressional inquiry; and 3) part of a Congressional hearing process. In addition, the FAA was not made aware of the reason for DeLay's interest in the aircraft. No names were provided, merely the aircraft call sign: N711RD." [Emphasis added.]

The Electronic Privacy Information Center requested and received, under the Freedom of Information Act, transcripts and recordings of the conversations.

DeLay was subpoenaed earlier this week in a civil lawsuit on the matter brought by a Texas lawmaker. He is refusing to give a deposition about his involvement.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Why did DeLay push a pro-tobacco amendment in an anti-terrorism bill?

The Daily DeLay: T-Minus 8 days and Counting
DeLay Uses 9-11 Bill to Try to Payback Big Tobacco

In October 2001, DeLay added a provision to anti-terrorism legislation that would have prevented foreign governments from recouping billions from tobacco companies in lost revenues and damages.

What tobacco companies' interests had to do with post 9-11 anti-terrorism legislation is still unclear.

Public Citizen reports that a political committee DeLay controls (known as a "527" organization) took in $131,500 from tobacco interests (one-fifth of its total haul) in the year prior to that, more than any candidate for Congress received in hard money from tobacco interests in the whole prior 1999-2000 election cycle.

Only a last-minute move by Senate Democrats, who were then in the majority, removed the provision from the bill.

The definition of "admonish" and "reality"

DeLay channels Clinton (i.e., depends on what your definition of 'is' is.) in the Galveston County Daily News:

"Look up in the dictionary what admonished means," he said. "All they did was say, 'In this realm, you ought to be careful about your future actions so that the perception, or the appearance, is in keeping with the House.'"


But it's clear he's living in some kind of different reality from what is closing in around him:

"'I'm not being investigated,' DeLay said. 'I have not been contacted. In fact, Ronnie Earle himself has said that I'm not a target of the investigation. None of my records have been subpoenaed or even asked for.'

"However, the Travis County District Attorney's office would not corroborate DeLay's claim. It said that a new grand jury had been empanelled in early October and was getting up to speed.

"Asked about DeLay’s statement, a spokesman for Earle would only say, 'Anyone who has committed a crime is a target.'"



Sunday, October 24, 2004

"I've been attacked. I've been threatened."

Daily DeLay T-Minus 9 Days and Counting
DeLay's Allies Threatened Ethics Chairman

Twice over seven days, the House Ethics Committee rebuked House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for three separate ethics violations.

The ethics violations involved offering personal political endorsements in exchange for a vote, creating the appearance of impropriety in linking fundraising to pending legislation, and contacting the FAA to track down Texas lawmakers who were refusing to create a quorum necessary to pass DeLay's resdistricting plan.

The rebukes, though short of censure, were rare. In issuing them, the Chairman of the Ethics Committee, Rep. Joel Hefley (R-UT), was careful to build an unaminous, bipartisan decision to mitigate any partisan backlash. In fact, some watchdog groups criticized the admonishments as too weak.

But DeLay was different. He claimed the committee exonerated him altogether and lashed out at those who had pursued it. Other members of Congress loyal to DeLay struck back directly at Chairman Hefley. As The Hill reported on October 13, Hefley was "threatened."

Asked what response he has received from House Republicans since two ethics committee admonishments were issued in a span of seven days, Hefley said, "I've been attacked; I've been threatened."

Just the kind of response that encourages accountabilty, huh?

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Dave McNeely: DeLay may be in trouble

Dave McNeely's column in the Austin American-Statesman covers DeLay's troubles and our polling and advertising.

He sums up the race this way:
Morrison's race is uphill, but it's clear that DeLay is running, too, at least against the political saw that when an incumbent loses, he usually beats himself.

DeLay Unplugged

Daily DeLay, T-Minus 10 Days and Counting
In DeLay's Own Words

In order to find out who a person is, you have to listen to what they say. The Daily DeLay today provides some of Tom DeLay's statements in that spirit. If you know of other statements, or want to comment, post a comment below.

The first comment from DeLay is his response to our ad running in his district:

"They are going after me in the most personal and vindictive way. It's gutter politics."

Pot calling the kettle black, right?

When asked to put out a cigar in a federal building because it was against federal law, he said:

"I am the federal government."

There's more, much more.

On money in politics:

"It never ceases to amaze me that people are so cynical they want to tie money to issues, money to bills, money to amendments."

"Money is not the root of all evil in politics. In fact, money is the lifeblood of politics."

"I don't think there is enough money in the system today."

On power:

"If you want to play in our revolution, you have to live by our rules."

"We're just following the old adage of punish your enemies and reward your friends.We don't like to deal with people who are trying to kill the revolution. We know who they are. The word is out."

"We can impeach judges who get drunk, so why not impeach those who get drunk with power?"

"The whole [redistricting] process won't have been worth it if we don't pick up at least four seats."

"As majority leader, there isn't a piece of legislation that makes it to the floor of the House without me saying so."

On the environment:

"The EPA, the Gestapo of government pure and simple, has been one of major claw hooks that the government maintains on the backs of our constituents."

"DDT is a very viable pesticide..."

"There is no crisis of acid rain in the Northeast. In fact, instead of spending the billions of dollars that have been imposed on industry ... we could have simply spent $500,000 on lime, and put it in the lakes in the Northeast, and corrected the acid problem."

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Friday, October 22, 2004

DeLay's Sleazy Fundraising: A Personal Story

The Daily DeLay: T-Minus 11 Days and Counting
DeLay's Sleazy Fundraising Practices

On April 3, 2001, the Associated Press reported that DeLay was making recorded calls to small business owners, promising them meetings with top Bush officials where they could voice their opinions on issues like tax reform in exchange a $20,000 contribution to join his "Business Advisory Council."

When Campaign Money Watch was evaluating whether to get involved in Tom DeLay's race, one email we received caught our attention and we share it with you now as an example of the type of fundraising tactics DeLay uses:

I have been called twice by telemarketers I'm sure, saying they were from his office, asking me to be on a Board to discuss issues that small businesses have, and can they use my name in a large ad they are running in the NY Times. I said I would be happy to attend a discussion of the issues of small businesses, but I wasn't going to give them any money. Initially they denied that was a problem, but after several rounds of palaver, that was the bottom line. I said I was not going to give them any money and never heard from them again.

Misrepresentation? Dishonest?


I think the answers to her questions are clear.

It is against the law to offer something in return for a contribution. Tom DeLay doesn't believe that the rule of law applies to him. That's the point of the first three seconds of our ad, which opens with the scales of justice exploding. The ad is running in Houston today.

Sign up for the Daily DeLay as an email every day.


Coverage of Subpoena, Ads in Chron

The Houston Chronicle has a front page report on Tom DeLay's no good, terrible, very bad day yesterday, and the use of DeLay in campaigns around the country. (Not bad placement for a day when Astros coverage dominated local news.)

Featured in the story is the ad campaign we're launching today in Houston on broadcast TV newscasts:

And in Texas, Democrats slapped DeLay, the U.S. House majority leader from Sugar Land, with a subpoena Thursday in an abuse-of-power redistricting lawsuit while [an independent group was] unveiling a new television commercial that calls him arrogant.

...

On another front, Campaign Money Watch of Washington, D.C., announced it is starting a television advertising campaign today against DeLay in the Houston area. Director David Donnelly said the ads are scheduled to run during broadcast news programs and that he hopes to have $100,000 to air the ads until Nov. 2.


Watch the ad here.

More later...





A Scorcher of a Column

Wow. Read the Fort Bend Star's Bev's Burner column (thanks to Offthekuff). The whole thing.

It was almost impossible to choose just one (I liked the ending "Although I am a Republican precinct chair, I am reminded of what John F. Kennedy said many years ago: 'Sometimes party loyalty requires too much.'"), but here's a choice paragraph:

According to knowledgeable sources, DeLay has even set up special rooms at the Capitol for the lobbyists who contribute to his causes. He supposedly meets with them regularly and lets them write the legislation. He browbeats lobbyists to give so much money to his causes that he started giving it to other groups and developing multi-schemes to circumvent the campaign finance laws. Many of his ex-staffers have gone to work for the groups he started and two of his very good friends (one an ex-staffer) lately billed several Indian tribes $45 million to lobby and PR for them.


Thursday, October 21, 2004

Noose is tightening?

Tom DeLay got served.

Associated Press:
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has been subpoenaed to testify in a Texas civil lawsuit about his role in using government resources to track down Democratic legislators who fled the state during last year's bitter redistricting dispute.

DeLay's Lawmaking: Money in, favors out.

The Daily DeLay: T-Minus 12 Days and Counting
DeLay fights for repeal of consumer protections on donors' behalf

On May 14, 1996, Edwin Lupberger, then the CEO of Entergy Corp., wrote DeLay a letter to thank him for meeting with him during a dinner for Republican "Team 100" donors – people who gave or raised over $100,000 for the Republican Party – and discussing pending legislation.

"There is an issue before Congress of significant importance to our company and industry – repeal of the Public Utility Holding Act of 1935," Lupberger wrote.

The Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 is a consumer protection law designed to prevent massive monopolies in the energy sector and to allow ratepayers some access to look at energy company books.

Lupsberger urged DeLay to push the relevant committee chairmen to act on repealing the act. Over the summer, Entergy gave $20,000 in soft money to the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In September of that year, DeLay went to the floor of the House to push successfully for the law's partial repeal. A full repeal of PUHCA will make Enron and California's energy problems "look like appetizers," says watchdog Public Citizen.

(Another backer of repeal of the Public Utility Holding Company Act was Enron. They succeeded in partial repeals of PUHCA in 1992, 1994, and 1996, which in part led to energy company bankruptcies.)

Since 1993, DeLay has raised $885,929 from the energy sector, and countless millions more from these sources for his leadership committees and the Republican Party.

Tom DeFlu: Tone deaf or out of touch

Tom DeLay was among the members of Congress to receive a flu shot, even as the issue of shortages ripple across America as a health and political concern.

Setting aside the possible validity of DeLay's reasoning, that he is in contact with lots of others and needs to prevent himself from spreading the flu, does anyone else believe he is just tone deaf on this, or is he really just out-of-touch?

Here's what his spokesperson said to the Houston Chronicle:
"The House doctor recommended that members get the flu shot because they would be in a position of carrying or passing along the virus," DeLay spokesman Jonathan Grella said. "Particularly in this season of (campaign) visits to nursing homes and senior centers, we can't afford to take that risk."
Campaigning among voters is a health "risk"? Hello?!?

And here is the response from a citizen who doesn't buy it:

Bette Gunnerson, a resident of St. Dominic Village Nursing Home in Houston, called the shots for lawmakers and other Capitol Hill workers "unfair."

"I think I should be entitled to a shot before a healthy man in Washington," she said. "It's a shame senior citizens have to stand outside drug stores waiting for the vaccine. It's just a disgrace."


Newspaper endorsement for DeLay's opponent

Bravoria Facts:
DeLay is so out of touch and so arrogant in his sense of entrenched power
that he didn’t even return candidate questionnaires to statewide groups such as
the League of Women Voters.

A defeat for DeLay would go a long way toward persuading others that there
are limits to the level of corruption that even the most partisan district will
accept.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Campaign Money Watch ad all over the web

Our campaign to take on Tom DeLay is picking up steam.

Last night, Democracy for America joined in by launching a fundraising campaign to air its ad on DeLay. See it at http://www.retiretomdelay.com.

Atrios, DailyKos, MyDD, OfftheKuff, The Nation's Outraged, and others are posting.

UPDATE: Thanks also to Burnt Orange Report for the plug.

Drunk with power

DeLay can use his influence in Washington to his electoral advantage, but not if he talks about it like this (from the Galveston Daily News):

"As majority leader, there isn’t a piece of legislation that makes it to the floor of the House without me saying so," DeLay said last week.


Quid. Pro. Quo. T-Minus 13 Days and Counting

The Daily DeLay: T-Minus 13 Days and Counting
DeLay offered quid pro quo endorsement to son of Rep. Nick Smith in exchange for Smith’s vote on Medicare.

Earlier this month, Tom DeLay was reprimanded, rebuked, admonished, etc. by the House Ethics Committee for offering a political favor to Congressman Nick Smith (R-MI) in exchange for his support for Bush's Medicare plan.

The Ethics Committee wrote:
The Investigative Subcommittee also found that Majority Leader Tom DeLay offered to endorse Representative Smith’s son in exchange for Representative Smith’s vote in favor of the Medicare bill. In the view on the Investigative Subcommittee, this conduct could support a finding that Majority Leader DeLay violated House rules. The Investigative Subcommittee concluded that it is improper for a Member to offer or link support for the personal interests of another Member as port of a quid pro quo to achieve a legislative goal.

We're not talking about any bill. We're talking about a piece of legislation that gives away the store to big pharmaceutical corporations, insurance companies, and HMOs. Pharmaceutical companies stand to gain at least $139 billion over ten years.

True to form, DeLay was paying back big contributors by rounding up the votes in any way he could (though it should be noted that Smith refused DeLay's "entreaties," which rumors afterwards suggested wasn't a simple endorsement: he may have offered $100,000 for Smith's son who was running for office because Smith is retiring).

DeLay raised $243,000 this cycle alone from health professionals, employees and PACs of insurance companies, and pharmaceutical interests. No wonder DeLay had a lot of stake in the outcome.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

And now Democracy 21 is getting into the act

Report: "A RECIDIVIST: FIVE STRIKES & LONG PAST OUT"

DeLay's Money = Dirty Money

Campaign for America's Future is getting into the act. They're calling on candidates to return DeLay's political action committee contributions.

Take action here.

We have a problem, Houston: Daily DeLay T-Minus 14 days and counting

Daily DeLay T-Minus 14 Days and Counting
DeLay strong-armed PACs and special interest lobbyists

“If you want to play in our revolution, you have to live by our rules,” DeLay tells lobbyists. He has two lists of the 400 largest PACs, those who he deems friendly and those he deems unfriendly. “We’re just following the old adage of punish your enemies and reward your friends,” DeLay says.

He once told Congress Daily, “Money is not the root of all evil in politics. In fact, money is the lifeblood of politics.”

Clearly, money is Tom Delay’s lifeblood.


Note: Every day over the next two weeks, the Daily DeLay will release a new example of Tom DeLay's pay-to-play politics, ethics violations, strong arm tactics, and all-around anti-democractic and pro-special interests fervor. This is the first installment.

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View our ad "Values" and make a donation.

Monday, October 18, 2004

"Values" TV ad on DeLay

Sunday, October 17, 2004

DeLay refuses to debate

From the Galveston Daily News, via Off the Kuff: "DeLay won't debate opponent"
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on Friday said that he would not debate Democratic challenger Richard Morrison before the Nov. 2 election.

...

“His name ID is nothing,” DeLay said.

Morrison says he has raised $500,000 — more than all of DeLay’s past challengers put together. In a bid to introduce himself to voters, Morrison has been running television spots portraying himself as a regular guy.

...

“I want to know why he’s ducking me,” Morrison said last week in a visit to The Daily News. “What’s he scared of?”

At least so far, DeLay, the No. 2 man in the House, has calculated that Morrison has more to gain from a debate than DeLay has to lose by avoiding one. “A debate would be for his benefit, not for mine,” DeLay said of Morrison.

What about the voters, Tom? Wouldn't they benefit?

District turning against DeLay

Associated Press: "Voters in DeLay's home town show mixed support"

Choice quote from a voter in the district:

"I think he ought to quit," said Amin Abdulla, 45, who owns an ice cream shop and who has voted for DeLay in the past. "I was in denial for the last year. But the reality is I'm disappointed to see how much he's abused power. He takes it for granted.

"I would recall him in a heartbeat," Abdulla said.


Houston Chronicle endorses DeLay's opponent

The Houston Chronicle endorsed Richard Morrison, Tom DeLay's challenger, on Friday.

From the editorial:
The Houston region and the entire country will be better off [without DeLay].