Tuesday, November 30, 2004

GOP does not want Reps convicted of felonies

Here is how the Republicans in Congress are spinning the rule change... For the first time, a member of leadership who is convicted of a felony must step down from that position.

From Rep. Chris Chocola (R-IN), via constituent E.J., from a letter dated November 23rd:

The new Conference rule states that any Republican Member of Congress convicted of a felony must immediately relinquish their leadership post.

(Note: I read the Chocola letter in its entirety several times. No mention of whether he voted for, against, or did not cast a vote. So, if he is a Letter-Writer, and now has written the letter but still has not answered the question, should we put him down as a Refuser? Yup, afraid so, Rep. Chocola. And you earned it yourself. Maybe it has something to do with only getting 54% of the vote?)

And from Jerry Lewis (R-CA), who is now outed as a Yes on the DeLay Rule, via the comments:

One of those rules, proposed by Congressman Henry Bonilla of Texas, will require for the first time that any Republican congressional leader or committee chairman who is convicted of a felony must immediately step down from their post.

Okay, now that we have cleared up whether the GOP wants convicted felons in position of leadership, does anyone think that a member of congressional leadership indicted by a grand jury should, just maybe, leave his or her leadership post temporarily?

Keep the reports coming.

Monday, November 29, 2004

More Minnesota action

In addition to Rep. Gutknecht's (MN-Did Not Vote, but opposed) letter, Minnesota Democrats are turning up the heat on Reps. Kline and Kennedy. A reader passed along an email calling for 'Rallies for Integrity' outside their respective congressional offices tomorrow, November 30th at noon local time.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune had already editorialized on this, which prompted Kline to respond (registration required), but without saying how he voted by the way. Instead he chastised the Star-Tribune for asking where he stood:

Finally, you take issue with the private nature of interparty caucus meetings. The closed-door structure of these meetings creates an environment in which dissent is encouraged. You consistently urge lawmakers to act independently and challenge our leadership, yet you would do away with one of the few places in which we do so regularly and freely.

So what was your position, Rep. Kline? Now that you have had the chance to 'act independently and challenge [your] leadership' in private with your colleagues, how about sharing your position with the rest of us...

The Run Around

Up-to-date vote count on DeLay Rule.

I am starting to get more reports in about letters and phone calls. Here are some emails from readers.

M.K., constituent of Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA):

I dont know if I still have it but he voted for the rule change. The letter, however, was an amazing piece of writing. It took me about 3 or 4 reads to figure out how he voted because of the way the letter was worded. The letter rationalized the vote by saying that since House Democrats have no rule at all governing the indictment of a leader the Republicans, are in effect, more ethical. It was really amazing.

P., constituent of Doc Hastings (R-WA), recounting a conversation with Hastings' Chief of Staff:

He said he'd send me a letter. I responded that I was disappointed in the Congressman's efforts to increase transparency on Congress. He said that because of the Republicans, people have access to every vote a Congressman casts on the floor. I then asked him to stop treating me like I'm stupid, because I've been following Congressional votes for 25 years and individual floor votes were always public during that time.

Caught in a lie he panicked and asked me if I was familiar with Doc's ethics committee votes in regard to DeLay. I responded that if he checked the letters, he'd find a couple from me that were critical of the Ethics Committee's handslaps. I reminded him again that I wasn't stupid and asked him to stop trying to spin me with excuses meant to convince ignorant people.

I then said that if he didn't know how Doc voted, as CoS, he surely knew where Doc stood on such a controversial issue. He finally admitted that Doc supported the DeLay rule and went into a defense of Doc's vote for it. I pointed out that he had just admitted that he knew Doc voted for it, and he replied that he misspoke and that while Doc supported the rule, the vote was secret.


Sunday, November 28, 2004

Letter received by constitutent of Gutknecht (MN)

Up-to-date vote count on DeLay Rule. Petition Hastert to hold recorded vote.

Reader and Minnesota resident L.B. received a letter from Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-did not vote) dated November 19th (the day after the vote) explaining his position on the DeLay Rule:

Although I was meeting with Taiwanese dignitaries and was unable to attend the meeting where this change was passed, I would have opposed the rule change. I believe that politicians need to hold themselves to a higher standard, and any attempt to weaken rules designed to prevent the impugning of the House of Representatives is a step in the wrong direction. As lawmakers and national leaders, we should hold ourselves to the highest standard of integrity and I believe that both parties should work hard to ensure that members of their caucus are held to the strictest ethical standard.

If anyone else has received letters, share them by posting them here or emailing me.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Newspaper pick-up

Up-to-date vote count on DeLay Rule

Times-Union (Albany, NY) picks up your role, with a focus on Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY), a DeLay Rule supporter. (from Josh Marshall.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The Hill Reports on the Delay Vote Tally!


Today, The Hill ran a piece on the work that TalkingPointsMemo.com and The Daily DeLay have done to tally and tease out who voted and how for the DeLay Rule. The reporter cited our postings and your calls to congressional offices.
According to Donnelly, the list is based on press reports as well as constituents who have called their representative to ask how they voted. He added that, since posting the list, the traffic on the site has increased from between 100 to 200 visitors per day to approximately 7,000.

“It is interesting to see how some members have been changing their story as the story has gotten bigger,” Donnelly said. “Some [lawmakers] refused initially to say [how they voted], and then they’ve said they’ll respond to constituents — they’ve been changing their stories.”

Thanks to everyone for helping us track down and demand these votes! But our work is not done. Please keep calling the offices for those we don't have yea or nay vote for and don't forget to sign and pass along our petition demanding that Speaker Hastert hold a recorded vote on the rule change when the new Congress convenes in January!

On the lighter side,
CTNow.com has published a humorous timeline on what DeLay and GOP Ethics rule changes maybe in store for us over the next five years.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

You say a conference, I say a caucus... let's call the whole thing off


A reader just posted the following comment after speaking with Rep. Rick Renzi's (R-AZ) office:

I just spoke with the office of Rick Renzi (Ariz.-1). His staffer said Renzi did not attend because this was a meeting of the GOP "conference," not the "caucus." Renzi and 68 other Republicans are not members of the conference, the aide told me. Is this true? Neverthelss, Renzi supports the change in the rule in order to give members "due process." Renzi is a recipient of $20,000 from
ARMPAC.

But according to the official Yellow Book -- the Leadership Directory for Fall 2004, a reference book that sits on virtually every congressional staffers' and lobbyists' desk -- there is no difference whatsoever:

The House Republican Conference is the caucus of all House Republicans.


Maybe Renzi think he didn't pay enough dues... to Tom DeLay's legal defense fund.

[Update: Josh Marshall has the same experience. -- David]

Addendum: And then there is this $113,000 play for Appropriations Chair by Hal Rogers (R-KY). How do you think he voted? Call him at (202) 225-4601, find out, and report back. Thanks, again, to Josh Marshall for the find.

Who do you think tipped off Google?


An email I received last night:

Hello,

Thank you for advertising with Google AdWords. After reviewing your account, I have found that one or more of your ads or keywords does not meet our guidelines. The results are outlined in the report below.
----------------------------------------------
Campaign: 'Campaign #1,' Ad Group: 'Tom DeLay'
----------------------------------------------
AD TEXT:
Corruption Personified
Take action against Tom DeLay, the most corrupt politician in America.
www.campaignmoney.org

Ad Status: Suspended - Pending Revision

Ad Issue(s): Unacceptable Content
~~~~~~~~~
---------------------
POLICY DEFINITIONS:
Unacceptable Content: At this time, Google policy does not permit ad text that advocates against an individual, group, or organization. In addition, this policy does not permit the advertisement of websites that advocate against a group protected by law. As noted in our advertising terms and conditions, we reserve the right to exercise editorial discretion when it comes to the advertising we accept on our site. Please note that both your ad and keywords have been suspended at this time.
---------------------
If a keyword has been suspended, it will no longer trigger your ad(s). If an ad has been suspended, you may edit it and save your changes to automatically resubmit the ad for review.

Texas DA Criticizes the DeLay Rule

Updates below on votes on the DeLay Rule. Demand a recorded vote on DeLay Rule.

It seems that Ronnie Earle, the district attorney for Travis County, TX, who is heading up the DeLay fund raising investigation, is a little perplexed as to why Congress would pass a law protecting a politician that has yet to be indicted. (You can real his full response in the New York Times).

Last week Congressional Republicans voted to change their rule that required an indicted leader to relinquish his post. They were responding to an investigation by the Travis County grand jury into political contributions by corporations that has already resulted in the indictments of three associates of Mr. DeLay, the House majority leader.

Yet no member of Congress has been indicted in the investigation, and none is a target unless he or she has committed a crime. The grand jury will continue its work, abiding by the rule of law. That law requires a grand jury of citizens, not the prosecutor, to determine whether probable cause exists to hold an accused person to answer for the accusation against him or her.

[Ed. note: Welcome to Rick Bielke, who is going to help out posting stuff here. -- David]


Monday, November 22, 2004

50 shouted No? Who are they? Was there a majority?

Updates below on who voted for the DeLay Rule, and who stood tall against it.

Interesting little story at Time.com on the DeLay Rule. Apparently the debate went on for four hours, and it was heated. One of the most passionate against was conservative Arizonan J.D. Hayworth. And sources say more than just a handful voted against:

As many as 50 G.O.P. Representatives shouted, "No!" when the voice vote over the rule change was held, sources in the room told TIME.

This raises the obvious question: Given all the absences (see below), was there really a majority?


Sunday, November 21, 2004

Take Action

Tell House Speaker Hastert to schedule a recorded vote on the DeLay Rule when the 109th Congress convenes.

What we know today.

Update, 11/22/04, 10:45 a.m.: Newsweek hammers DeLay.

But much of the rest of the cash [for DeLay's legal defense fund] comes from a posse of corporate donors such as Texas horse-racing magnate Charles Hurwitz, who, along with his company, Maxxam, has chipped in $10,000 to pay DeLay's legal debts. (Hurwitz also has contributed an additional $24,000 to other DeLay campaign committees in recent years.) Hurwitz and DeLay have a long relationship: when Hurwitz was facing a suit by federal regulators for allegedly defrauding a savings and loan in 1999, DeLay interceded with the chief federal bank regulator in an unsuccessful attempt to get her agency to back off the case. Hurwitz later hosted a golf and marlin-fishing fund-raiser for DeLay at Palmas del Mar, a luxurious resort complex he owns in Puerto Rico.

Questions on who can vote on DeLay Rule

Click here for latest update on DeLay Rule vote.

Several people have asked about who can vote on the DeLay Rule. Some Republican members are retiring or have been elected to the Senate. Since these rules apply prospectively to the 109th Congress, shouldn't newly-elected representatives vote on them, and not members of the 108th Congress who won't serve in the 109th? But how can that happen without them first being sworn in? I have heard only speculative answers on these questions, so if anyone has definitive answers please post them.

Until then, I am operating under the assumption that a member cannot vote until sworn in on January 3, 2005. As a practical matter, most members not returning to the House (i.e., Dunn and Nethercutt in WA) have said that they did not vote. But I also think it is never too early to put congressmen- and congresswomen-elect on the spot for where they would stand if they had to cast a vote on the DeLay Rule.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

News report thread

Any interesting news reports to clarify where they stand? Here is one report to start us off:

Jo Ann Emerson (MO). Opposed, but did not vote.
Southeast Missourian: "Emerson was out of the room when the vote was taken. The Southeast Missouri congresswoman said several lawmakers were out of the room when the party leadership suddenly called for a voice vote on the issue."

Update: Three Blind New Jersey Mice. See how they run.

LoBiondo, Garrett, and Saxton were all outed by the Asbury Park Press. I have updated below. They were listed as Letter-Writers.

Update: A reader just emailed me this (thanks!), which I had not gotten to yet -- David Brooks in the New York Times. Read it. Here is a choice excerpt, among many:


Finally, House Republicans did not rise up to denounce DeLay because while they know he represents some of the political tendencies they came to Washington to reform, none of them is pure enough to cast the first stone. They've all voted for the big deficits they vowed to combat. They've all watched the walls between the public servants and the private lobbyists get washed away.

If Republicans are going to recover the reformist spirit, they're going to have to do more than lessen the influence of Tom DeLay.

But let's face it, the problem starts there. Tom DeLay is a scandal waiting to happen. He casts himself as the enemy of Washington, but he's really a conventional (if effective) pol who wants to use dollars to entrench power. He represents the greatest danger the Republicans face, bossism. He wants to be the G.O.P.'s Boss Tweed.

This is what we have unleashed this week. Keep it up.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Vote Reporting Thread

See below for update.

Still look at the lists below for updates, but use this thread for posts with confirmations about who stood where, or refuses to stand anywhere, or wants to tell everybody in writing because they are afraid to tell you now.

Suggested (helpful) format:

Member of Congress -- State -- Category (see categories below)

If after that you want to say more, fine, but help me help you get the information out as clear as possible. Thanks! Keep up the pressure. Only a few more hours under Capitol Hill offices close. Keep calling district offices, though.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Votes on DeLay Rule

New, Improved Vote Count. Thanks to Wray Cummings. List last updated on 11/29/04 @ 12:07 p.m. EDT. Post any comments or corrections, and we will update periodically.

Update: I have had such good feedback on it, I have moved the reporting of how members voted to the easy-to-use webpage/database.

Tell Speaker Hastert to schedule a record vote on the DeLay Rule when the 109th Congress convenes.

Thanks to Josh Marshall, his readers, and others for updates. Keep them coming. The numbers next to the names are how much money they received from DeLay and his ARMPAC, courtesy of Campaign for America's Future.

Disclaimer: I have done my best to use multiple sources in compiling and categorizing what follows. If you are a Member of Congress, or work for one, and you are concerned about the accuracy of what is posted here, you are strongly encouraged to contact Speaker Hastert to ask for a recorded vote. It is that simple.

Josh Marshall is taking no prisoners

Gotta give credit where credit is due.

Josh Marshall and his readers are taking no prisoners in finding out who was for and against the DeLay rule.

Go read TPM and join in. Report back here if you want.

Writing Letters

The letters to the editor page is generally known as the second most read part of a newspaper. It is a good place to shape and frame a debate.

With the DeLay rule change focused primarily on the GOP selfishly moving to protect its own, and newspaper stories appearing in every major daily paper in the country, with opinion pieces along side, we have a golden opportunity to deepen public awareness of Tom DeLay and his corrupt pay-to-play politics.

There is a free site that allows you to send letters to the editor to local papers on-line very easily. Click here and type in your zip code under Local Media and press Go. A list of national and local news outlets will appear. Select the ones you which you want to submit a letter by marking the box next to it and clicking on Compose Message at the very bottom of the page.

Then create a subject line for your letter and draft a short letter and hit Send Message.

Here are some helpful hints about letters:

  1. Keep them short. 150 words or so.
  2. Refer to something that ran in the newspaper if possible.
  3. Mention why you are concerned about this issue.

Here are some talking points for drafting your letter:

  1. The Republicans in Congress just removed a rule that forced their leaders to resign if they are indicted for criminal behavior. It was clearly a payback to Tom DeLay, who apparently participated in raising illegal corporate contributions in Texas to advance his own power and his partys control over Congress.
  2. That means that Tom DeLay can continue to lead Congress even if a grand jury has indicted him for a felony.
  3. [If your member of Congress is a Republican] The change came on a voice vote, meaning that we will never know exactly how our member of Congress (fill-in with his or her name) voted. We should ask.
  4. [If your member of Congress is a Democrat] While this rule change only applies to Republicans, it is important that all members of Congress, like (fill-in the blank), speak out against this change.
  5. Congress should be led by those who obey the law. If Tom DeLay is indicted for criminal behavior, he should resign until the matter is resolved.

If you have drafted a letter, please post it below and say where you have submitted it. If the letter gets published, please let us know right away!

News Round Up: Time for Letters to the Editor!

There are stories all over the national media about the DeLay rule change, and I suspect that local dailies are carrying the Associated Press or other wire stories. I will post some talking points for letters to the editor, and a helpful link that allows you to submit letters to the editor on-line.

Here are some of the stories I scanned that I thought were insightful and good (some news, some editorial). If you have seen some, post your own.

Boston Globe editorial: Coddling Tom DeLay

New York Times: House G.O.P. Acts to Protect Chief

Houston Chronicle: GOP alters rules to aid DeLay

Los Angeles Times: House GOP Alters Its Rules to Shield Combative DeLay

Denver Post editorial: GOP provides cover for DeLay

Associated Press: House GOP Changes Rules to Protect DeLay


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

House GOP votes to protect DeLay

From the Associated Press:


By a voice vote, and with a handful of lawmakers voicing opposition, the House Republican Conference decided that a party committee of several dozen members would review any felony indictment of a party leader and recommend at that time whether the leader should step aside.

Basically, they watered down the initial version that would have removed the rule requiring a member step down from leadership or a committee chair if indicted by a state grand jury. But they gave themselves plenty of wiggle room. We will have to wait and see if DeLay gets indicted and they use the wiggle room or not.

Who do you think voiced opposition?

We will probably want to respond with something, so check back here, or offer your suggestions below.

Update: How do you think DeLay voted? For it? Then he is self-serving. Against it? Then he did not want them to do it. Abstain? Well, that there is an admission of conflict of interest.

Update II: Chris Shays and Zach Wamp both expressed opposition publicly. Shays said 30 to 50 members opposed. Wamp asked for a secret recorded vote. What is that? Why record a secret, if not for releasing it later? That went down, too.


Protest the DeLay rule change

Congressman Henry Bonilla (R-TX) is proposing a change in the House rules to get House Majority Leader Tom DeLay off the hook for an impending indictment. DeLay has been implicated by press reports as the architect of a scheme to illegally raise and launder corporate contributions to advance his Texas redistricting plan. Under current rules, if DeLay (like three of his associates and eight of the corporations that gave contributions) gets indicted he would have to resign his Majority Leader post. That is, until they consider the rule change offered by Bonilla on Wednesday, November 17th.

Take action now to protest this outrageous change:

Contact Congressman Henry Bonilla immediately at (202) 225-4511 and tell him to drop his rule change proposal, or click here to send an email.

After you have called, let us know what you hear. Post a comment below, or offer your suggestions.

You would think it should be as simple as this: A member of congress who is indicted for criminal activity should not be a leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives.

If you want to read more, click here or read one of the stories below.

Washington Post

New York Times

Associated Press




Sunday, November 07, 2004

What's on your mind?

What have you been reading? Thinking? Writing?

Share your thoughts on the election by posting a comment.

Ain't Seen Nuthin' Yet

Carl Hulse of the New York Times penned an article a few days back about DeLay. Here's how it starts:

As the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, celebrated his election victory in Texas Tuesday night, the theme song playing in the background had been selected by his aides to send a message: "Hit Me With Your Best Shot."

I guess our work and the ethics committee charges did not go unnoticed.

[I was thinking that a theme song for us might be "You Ain't Seen Nuthin' Yet" -- what do you think?]

The ending is also interesting:

When Mr. DeLay and his allies in Texas undertook the redistricting last year, they argued that it was clear the existing lines were skewed when a Republican state like Texas had a Congressional delegation that was majority Democratic. Democrats fought the plan, saying the new lines should be drawn only after the next census. The fight is still in the courts and also figured into the ethics matters involving Mr. DeLay.

But Mr. DeLay declared the new map a success after the election gave five more seats to Republicans.

Mr. DeLay had to run in a new Houston-area district and, because of the thousands of new constituents as well as fallout from the ethics matters, he found the going a little tough. In the end, he received 55 percent of the vote, which, for a powerful incumbent like Mr. DeLay, is modest and well below the 60 percent or more he received in the past.


If the court throws out DeLay's plan, we may see even more scrambling next time.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Email from a supporter

I received the following:

An Open Letter to your campaign & supporters:

As someone who lives in Delay's district, let me tell you and all others who you wish to share these thoughts with: Thank you.

1. I've seen Delay hurt this country from his "strong-hold" for too long & really appreciate your efforts in taking him on.

It was great to see him sweat!

2. It did make a difference! I saw that man run around the country raising money for other Republican candidates. This time he had to stay home & fight.

That helped our candidates win elsewhere -- Waco comes to mind.

3. Hurting him in his county will hurt him in the party -- & that will make his ability to push extreme policies more difficult.

The next extremist bill or judge that doesn't get passed b/c Delay wasn't able to Hammer down good colleagues -- remember that it was your efforts that made it possible!

4. Realistically, we really weren't going to win this time -- there was no major candidate before, no history. What we were doing was setting up the next run -- & I think we have a good chance then!

Thank you guys for coming out of nowhere to make my life & many others in this district better. Thank you to all your contributors.

You did make a difference! Remember that!

Ya'll go take a vacation -- you earned it & frankly some of you people look like you need it! :-)

We'll see you guys when you get back.


Thursday, November 04, 2004

Post-election day

I will be taking some time to evaluate what we accomplished, where we should be going, and how to get there. If anyone has feedback on these, please feel free to post a comment or email me at ddonnelly [at] campaignmoney.org.

Here's my quick take on what we did:

Since being elected in 1984, Tom DeLay had never had a close race. Until now. On Tuesday, DeLay was re-elected with 55% of the vote. And he had to work hard to win. We should feel good about that.

In Washington, insiders maintained this race was not going to be very close and they walked away from the fight. But not us. DeLay is now on that rarified list of incumbents — those elected with 55% of the vote or less — who are considered vulnerable in their next election. Even in a "solidly Repiblican district," voters in DeLay's district don't like pay-to-play politics anymore than the rest of the country. He should be placed on everyone's national target list for 2006. We should feel better about that.

As one person emailed me:


I'm writing to say thanks to you and your organization. I too feel that you made a lot of difference. For one thing, you gave some of us here in Texas hope that DeLay could lose. I, for one, had just assumed he'd be re-elected and that those people in Sugarland really approve of his policies. So, your information helped me adjust my thinking.

I heard Pelosi talking in CSpan yesterday and heard her say that any Republican incumbent with 55% or less is considered to have a weak hold on their office and will be targeted in 2006. Again, thanks to you, that now includes DeLay.

Campaign Money Watch defied conventional wisdom when we decided to take Tom DeLay on in his district. And we made a difference in this race. Despite DeLay's survival, this was the right fight for us. And it's one we are strongly looking at continuing.

Yet, to give us all pause and cause for this on-going fight, here is what Majority Leader DeLay had to say about the election:

"With a bigger majority, we can do even more exciting things."