Thursday, December 30, 2004

Sears turns state witness

The second of eight corporations indicted in the DeLay-related state fundraising scandal agreed to cooperate with the District Attorney investigation: SEARS.

The agreement calls for Sears to cooperate with Texas "in its prosecution and investigation of any other person for any offense related to the corporate contribution" that Sears made.

Emphasis mine. Bad news for DeLay.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Houston Chronicle Explains Win-Win for DeLay

An editorial in the Houston Chronicle hits the nail on the head regarding the irony of DeLay negotiating an agreement on a local issue in his district. And they explain well exactly what I have been thinking on it.

DeLay was the real winner in a local issue that pitted neighborhood activists against a joint proposal from the chemical industry and a railroad company to build a new rail line. DeLay had promised the railroad, Burlington Northern, and the chemical industry he would not interfere. They gave big money to TRMPAC, founded by DeLay. Then after constituent pressure and a fast-approaching election, he negotiated a deal. The question is, even with the agreement and the Clear Lake community winning this fight, do Clear Lake residents have residue anger toward DeLay for the years he steered clear of the issue? In other words, are residents willing to hold him accountable for not stepping in sooner because he took campaign money from Burlington Northern? On its own, it is doubtful; as a piece of the puzzle, maybe.

Here is the editorial:

WIN-WIN, DELAY STYLE
Rail tap dance allows House majority leader to collect corporate contributions for his PACs while leaving Clear Lake constituents smiling

Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

When Burlington Northern railroad officials forked over more than $50,000 to Texans for a Republican Majority last year, they and a group of chemical company allies thought they had assurances that the PAC's founder, Congressman Tom DeLay, would stay neutral in the consortium's efforts to build a new hazardous cargo rail line through DeLay's district. One of the partners, Lyondell Chemical, contributed $16,000 to DeLay through company officers and employees.

As recently as last July, a DeLay spokesman reaffirmed that his boss was staying out of the controversy between proponents of the project and Clear Lake residents opposing it on environmental grounds.

Then the November election campaign heated up, and Democrats tried to exploit community discontent with the proposed rail line by laying the blame for it at DeLay's feet.

In late October, DeLay appeared at Houston City Hall for an unusual meeting with the CEOs of the competing railroads. He was now singing a different tune: Constituents don't want another rail line, so let's make a deal.

The irony was palpable when DeLay took the bows this week as the guiding force in a deal between Burlington Northern and Union Pacific. The agreement resolved the controversy over UP's monopoly of a rail line serving the Bayport Industrial District, introduced competition on shared tracks, and made a new line unnecessary. Participants in the negotiations say DeLay's role was essential in securing the compromise.

"The result is better than we could have hoped for," the majority leader crowed. "If you look up the term 'win-win situation' in the dictionary, you could find a picture of this agreement."

Only in Tom DeLay's New World Dictionary is a reader likely to find the following definition for "win-win": A situation in which one collects generous contributions from one side in a controversy; shifts position under political pressure, currying support from an aggrieved constituency on election eve; and then proudly announces "a Christmas compromise," producing hails of jolly good fellow.

The congressman's critics may not appreciate his methods, but in this case it's hard not to admire DeLay's fancy footwork and the end result. Shippers in Houston's important petrochemical sector get competitive rates, a new rail line does not have to be built near residences and schools, and new traffic does not further overload Houston's east end.


Thursday, December 23, 2004

Our ad in the Houston Press today

TAKE ACTION: Demand a Recorded Vote on the DeLay Rule

Here is our half page ad in the Houston Press. (The Houston Chronicle insisted on some changes we were not willing to make in the ad in order to run it.)



Post a comment to let me know what you think.

And a shameless request: Please make a year-end gift to Public Campaign Action Fund so we can continue to take on big money politicians like Tom DeLay.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

DeLay Defends Rumsfeld, Blasts Critics

This may be a little afield from the general focus on money in politics and ethics, but I thought this was good to share...

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay appeared on the Sean Hannity show, guest hosted by Ollie North, no less, and blasted critics of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. From conservative NewsMax.com:

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, blasting congressional and media critics of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, said yesterday that the constant drumbeat of attacks on the Pentagon chief was undermining the war effort.

"What worries me is that we are aiding and abetting the enemy," DeLay told Lt. Col. Oliver North, who was filling in on Sean Hannity's ABC Radio network broadcast.

He also released a statement yesterday. Note the implicit threat to other lawmakers.

Compare that to what Senators Chuck Hagel (R-NE), John McCain (R-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Trent Lott (R-MS) said in recent days:

Hagel. The troops in Iraq "deserved a far better answer than that flippant response" than what Rumsfeld gave as an answer to a question about why there was a lack of armored vehicles.

McCain. "No confidence."

Collins. From a letter to Rumsfeld: "The Department of Defense still has been unable to ensure that our troops have the equipment they need to perform their mission as safely as possible."

Lott. "I'm not a fan of Secretary Rumsfeld. I don't think he listens enough to his uniformed officers." The AP further quoted him as saying, "I would like to see a change in that slot in the next year or so. I'm not calling for his resignation, but I think we do need a change at some point."

Monday, December 20, 2004

Monday morning loose ends

It is early in the week to have loose ends, so I wanted to make sure I tied them all up -- there were a few news items from last week and over the weekend to note. Here goes:

Watchdogging the Ethics Process

The Congressional Ethics Coalition -- a nonpartisan, ideologically diverse group of eight government watchdog groups -- released a statement on Thursday last week about the proposed congressional rules changes that, in the coalition's estimation (and they are right) would cripple the already weak ethics oversight process in the House of Representatives. The statement also criticizes the public speculation about retribution against sitting members of the House Ethics Committee.

The ethics coalition is comprised of the Campaign Legal Center, the Center for Responsive Politics, Common Cause, Citizens for Responsibility for Ethics in Washington, Democracy 21, Judicial Watch, Public Campaign and Public Citizen. (Full disclosure: Public Campaign and Public Campaign Action Fund are related organziations. Public Campaign is a 501(c)3 public education organziation; PCAF is a 501(c)4 activist-oriented organization. This blog is run by PCAF.)

Houston Chronicle profiles DeLay

In a piece interestingly different from the National Journal article excerpted Friday, the Houston Chronicle's Gebe Martinez writes up DeLay's kingdom. Here is the central dilemma for Republicans in Congress:

The main source of his latest political troubles — his successful campaign to have Texas lawmakers redistrict the state's congressional seats for this year's election — is also a huge reason DeLay is in good standing with House Republicans.

They are mindful that, had it not been for the resulting six-seat increase in the Texas GOP House delegation, the party would have suffered a net loss of House seats in the November election, Bush's popularity notwithstanding.


That rings mostly true. Though I wouldn't underestimate the ambition of members of Congress. Yes, they want to be in the majority, and DeLay has delivered on that. But they want to stay in the majority, and a significant number of them want to climb the leadership ladder. The top rungs are occupied by DeLay & Co. It just stands to reason that if ambitious GOP pols sense that DeLay and the swirling scandals around him hurts both the GOP continued hold on power and ascension into leadership, look for a tremendous growth in palace intrigue in the House Republican Conference. Martinez doesn't delve too far down this path in his piece.

Indian gaming scandal involves former DeLay associates and Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH)

This story has been developing for a while, and I have been tracking it. We will have more to say about it later. But the most recent development that Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) is talking to the House Ethics Committee about how he agreed to insert legislative language on Indian gaming at the behest of lobbyists Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon (both DeLay associates) makes this worth noting and watching even more closely. Abramoff and Scanlon have charged various Native American tribes $66 million, which has attracted an investigation by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

Friday, December 17, 2004

"I see fear in his eyes"

Richard Cohen of the National Journal has a lengthy article summing up all the swirling problems around Majority Leader Tom DeLay. It is a subscription only service, so I will excerpt passages from it to give a flavor of how damning the evidence is that mounts against the Hammer, and the worry among Republicans about their leader. Read through the excerpts to see the credit the Daily DeLay gets!

It starts out:


The continuing legal and ethical woes of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, have produced a palpable foreboding -- plus some drawing of the knives -- among House Republicans. Even as they bask in their recent election success and prepare for possibly far-reaching domestic policy changes during President Bush's second term, House Republicans are shadowed by the many questions surrounding their majority leader. Of greatest concern, though hardly the only problem, is the continuing criminal investigation in Texas that resulted in the September indictments of three of DeLay's close associates.

[...]

Even DeLay's most devoted allies concede that they cannot be confident about how these dilemmas will unfold and whether DeLay will avoid significant fallout from the criminal inquiry. Nor can anyone -- including DeLay's most implacable enemies -- predict with assurance the immediate consequences if he is indicted or faces other sanctions.

Regardless, a cloud is hanging over Tom DeLay. Although he has been the most powerful keeper of the conservative faith during the past decade of House GOP control, he faces growing unhappiness and impatience among some of his Republican colleagues.


Some GOP sources are beginning to express grave doubts:


There are those within the House Republican ranks who think that it's already too late for DeLay, that he has lost control of events. "I believe that there will be a dramatic conclusion [for DeLay] sometime in the next two years," said the top aide to a senior House Republican.

Another veteran House Republican aide, when asked what will happen to DeLay if he is indicted, replied: "There will be a firestorm, and he'll be out."


Here is a money quote. I would love to know who said it.
"I see fear in his eyes," said a senior House Republican lawmaker. Others contend that the usually combative DeLay has appeared weary in recent weeks. DeLay's chief of staff, Tim Berry, has told other House GOP aides that he spends much of his time consulting with lawyers. Even DeLay's stalwart defenders concede that he has been distracted by the problems swirling around him -- and they acknowledge that this distraction could affect legislative activity.

"Tom DeLay is a wonderful leader, with great enthusiasm and vigor, who is the architect of the conservative agenda," said Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas. But "nobody likes to have your halfback with a bad arm or knee." Asked whether he worries about the potential fallout for the agenda set by Bush and congressional Republicans, Sessions replied, "Sure.... There is uncertainty."

Our opportunity:


As the No. 2 leader in the House, DeLay has some cover. His challenge now is to make sure that he doesn't become "the story" outside the Beltway, a situation that could create headaches for his colleagues when they return to their districts.

"Tom and his staff need to worry about the possibility that members will be hearing about his problems when they are at home," [former Gingich chief of staff Dan] Meyer said. "He has to be aggressive in his attack, with a strategy that works. That can be difficult to do." Biggs noted, "When members feel the heat back home, they feel the need to protect the link to their constituents."

[...]

DeLay, however, deliberately reduced his public appearances across the nation, limiting the Democrats' ability to make their charges stick. And the election results showed that he apparently has not yet become an albatross for his party.

"All the slings and arrows of the ethics charges were washed away by the election results," a source close to DeLay said. "Members are grateful for his support to the party and his performance as majority leader in moving the agenda." The ally added, "DeLay won't stand still.
He will outmaneuver the critics."

Democratic mistake:


For their part, House Democrats recently have toned down their drumbeat against the majority leader. "We have tried to demonize DeLay, but the reality is that the Republicans are savvy in operating behind the scenes," said a House Democratic aide. "We need to let DeLay be DeLay, and we should worry about our activities as the opposition party in focusing on everything that the Republicans do."

Preparing for the worst:


Although DeLay's defenders contend that he is in no jeopardy, they have moved on a number of fronts to prepare for a possible worst-case scenario. Several of their actions have been clandestine, and have come with little warning to other House Republicans. According to well-placed GOP sources, even Hastert appeared to have been blindsided -- and at least initially unhappy -- about DeLay's stealth maneuver in mid-November to rewrite the House
Republican Conference rule...

[...]

Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and other opponents said that between 30 and 40 Republicans opposed the change during the voice vote. The rules change is "a step in the wrong direction" from the standard that Republicans set when they captured the House majority a decade ago, Shays said. The Daily DeLay Weblog, maintained by the Public Campaign Action Fund, a liberal group, has identified 23 House GOP members who have asserted that they opposed the new rule.

[...]

[Some GOP sources] contend that DeLay and his allies made what one veteran aide termed "colossal" misjudgments by pressing the issue last month. Insisting on anonymity -- in part, because of the continuing fear of crossing DeLay -- these sources contend that DeLay has now exhausted his one "vote of confidence" from members. As another well-placed aide said, "DeLay has used his last arrow."

A telltale sign that the DeLay team is preparing for a sustained public-relations battle came when his communications director, Stuart Roy, announced this month that he will be departing Capitol Hill to join the Washington office of the DCI Group, a corporate public-affairs firm with a
grassroots focus. In an interview, Roy said that he expects to remain "heavily involved in DeLay's political operations," though final details have not been settled.


Thursday, December 16, 2004

BUGS CEO gets award from DeLay, a former exterminator

I am not making this one up. Promise.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (R-NY), and the NRCC just awarded the 2004 Ronald Reagan Republican Gold Medal Award to Robert Brehm, CEO of U.S. Microbics, Inc. (ticker symbol: BUGS) of Carlsbad, CA, according to a
company release.

Brehm gave a few thousand dollars to the RNCC.

BUGS CEO Brehm gushed:

"I was pleased to be nominated and to receive this prestigious Ronald Reagan Gold Metal [sic] Award from the NRCC. I believe the Republican pro-growth, pro-job creation policies are steering America in the right direction, and that Americans can depend on Republicans to make economic decisions that will help the country become stronger in all areas including the environment. The President's proposed national energy policy includes initiatives to develop zero-emissions energy technologies and other sources of clean affordable energy as well as explore alternative cleanup technologies such as ours."

Brehm added, "The BUGS cleanup technology, delivered on a "pay for performance" basis, is well positioned to address the key national concern areas of MTBE (gasoline additive) and perchlorate (rocket fuel) cleanup in Brownfield areas and private sector arenas. With the economy improving, interest rates at record low levels and real estate prices accelerating, property cleanup efforts are increasing and our better, faster, cheaper and safer solutions are becoming a viable alternative to 1980's conventional technology. All of these factors encourage me to believe we have a bright future ahead of us." (emphasis added)


Okay, we could go off in lots of directions, like, for example, how hilarious is it that the ex-exterminator Tom DeLay gave this award to BUGS CEO Brehm? Or the idea that BUGS is "delivered on a pay for performance basis"... just like Congress, right? (Or that the company website is this URL.)

But the real interesting substantive issue here is this: DeLay virtually single-handedly held up the President’s energy bill last year because it didn’t limit MTBE liability. Now he is honoring a CEO of a company that promises that its solutions in cleaning up MTBE "are becoming a viable alternative to 1980's conventional technology." What gives? Is BUGS in line for massive clean up contracts if the energy bill goes through? What kind of bright future does the CEO envision, and why is he so confident?

There is definitely something here to research for those with a solid background in this issue. I will look some more, but if anyone has thoughts about this, let me know.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

More DeLay Rule Updates

We have more information on where five additional members stand on the DeLay Rule, and we have updated our database. Cass Ballenger of North Carolina, Amo Houghton of New York, and Nathan Deal of Georgia abstained from the vote, bring the number of members not voting to 36. One more member copped to voting for the DeLay Rule, Dave Weldon of Florida, and one more refuses to answer how he voted, Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania.

The most interesting replies come from the most interesting places though:

Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R-FL) must have voted on a butterfly ballot: Staffers have told callers alternately that they didn't know how their boss voted, that she voted for it, or that she refuses to say. Maybe she just refused to tell her staff that she voted for it so therefore they don't know. In any case, time for more calls to her office, please.

Almost as interesting are the replies forwarded to us from calls into Tom DeLay's offices. Some staffers say he voted for the change, others that he won't say how he voted. Still more callers have been told he abstained. That is the most likely of all scenarios, but just cause the Hammer didn't vote doesn't mean he didn't loom menacingly in the room.

More later.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Congrats to 5,000th signer

I forgot to post this last week... We did have a winner of Is That A Politician in Your Pocket? for being the 5,000th signer of the petition: J. Henley of SW Florida. Our winner wrote that taking action on-line in “corrective political efforts” helps to “protect democracy.” Congratulations!

But even though the contest is over, the petition campaign is not: Sign here to demand that Speaker Hastert schedule a recorded vote on the DeLay Rule.

Friday, December 10, 2004

What does the settlement mean?

I have been thinking about this a little more. Diversified Collection acknowledges in its settlement with the District Attorney’s office that its $50,000 contribution to TRMPAC was based on "false and misleading information provided by the fund-raiser that solicited the contribution." That corroborates that someone – probably one of the three DeLay associates already under indictment – broke the law.

Clearly, Diversified was worried about the investigations impact on its bottom line. It is in line to win major new or expanded contracts with the federal government because of the recently passed appropriations bill. (I will leave for another time the argument that having collection agencies keep up to 25% of the past taxes they collection from taxpayers is a bad thing and a reward for years of political giving.)

Diversified agreed to acknowledge wrong-doing, stop making corporate contributions in Texas, make a financial donation to educate the public about corporate money in politics (hey, colleagues in Texas, who is gonna get this one? I have some suggestions about how you guys could spend it…), and cooperate with the investigation. The first three are all well and good; but the DA’s office really needed was Diversified’s cooperation.

So my question is, On whom did the company roll? And will that as yet unnamed fundraiser roll on anyone else? That is the real issue here.

My sources in Texas tell me that the next major indictment is likely to be Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick. They also say there is a major development coming soon. Frankly, as interesting as it is, I don’t think this settlement with Diversified Collection reaches the level of a "major development." But who knows? Maybe there this is the start of something major.

It looks to me like the prosecution is putting the edge pieces of the puzzle together in order to begin working toward the middle. They are not making a beeline at DeLay, or even Craddick. They are making very careful, clear steps to turn up the heat on those one rung, to mix my metaphors, below DeLay.

Breaking News: Indictment Dropped Against Company In Exchange For Cooperation!

The Houston Chronicle (registration required) reported that Travis County prosecutors have announced that charges against Diversified Collection Services, Inc., one of the eight companies indicted for making illegal political contributions to a PAC run by DeLay, have been dropped in exchange for their testimony against other defendants. According to court filings as reported by the Chronicle:
...District Attorney Ronnie Earle said he agreed to drop the prosecution because the company convinced him it donated the money based on "false and misleading information provided by the fund-raiser that solicited the contribution." It also said an officer who authorized the donation is no longer with the company.

We'll keep an eye on this story and follow as it develops.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Vindictive

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington -- a great group -- was threatened with contempt of Congress for helping Rep. Chris Bell (D-TX) draft and file the ethics complaint against Tom DeLay, according to the RAW STORY. The threat was contained in a little-noticed paragraph in a 33-page letter written to the House Ethics Committee by DeLay’s private lawyer.


“Representative Bell and CREW have demonstrated contemptuous behavior toward the House and the Committee by improperly obstructing and interfering with the legislative process,” Bethune wrote to House Rules Committee Chairman Rep. David Dreier, “and by libeling a Member in the process.”

CREW’s Melanie Sloan responded appropriately:

“As far as I know they don’t have a jail,” Sloan told RAW STORY Wednesday. “That’s not to say you couldn’t fashion a cell. But it would be, I would think, international news really, if they put someone in jail in the basement of the Capitol.

“It’s my fantasy if they would do that,” she laughed. “And I think the court would have me out of there in an hour.”

[Only a few more shopping days left to help us wish Tom DeLay a happy holidays!]

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Rep. Fossella Can Run But He Can't Hide!

After calling 6 times and sending 3 emails to Rep. Fossella's (R-NY) press secretary, The New York Observer's Ben Smith (kudos, Ben!) was still unable to get an answer on how Fosella voted on the DeLay Rule. Knowing that "members of congress can't hide forever," Smith was able to track down Rep. Fossella at a breakfast forum in New York, more than two weeks after the voice vote, and Fossella finally admitted to Smith that he did in fact vote for the voice rule.

On why he voted for the rule:
"I was in support of the move," Mr. Fossella finally said. "The fundamental morality in this country is you’re innocent until proven guilty."

How quickly Fossella forgot that is was the Republicans who first implemented this rule in 1993 to criticize then-Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-IL) that they are now overturning.

Click here to find out how your and other Republican repesentatives voted.


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Reading the Tea Leaves

The Dallas Morning News (registration required) has a small item today about Gregg Cox, the prosecutor in the District Attorney's office who is handling the DeLay-related case involving corporate contributions in Texas. It appears that Cox was set to open up a new private practice as a criminal defense attorney in October. He had even take out an ad in the Yellow Pages.

But Mr. Cox isn't, as the ad says, "a former assistant district attorney," he explained when reached by phone at his county office.

"I resigned in October," but then reconsidered and decided to stay a prosecutor "for the foreseeable future," he said. By then, it was too late to cancel his ad in the big, yellow book.

What reason does Mr. Cox give for his change of heart?

Asked why he changed his mind about leaving his job, Mr. Cox said: "Unfinished business. ... I've been working on this whole big caper for two years now."

Now, what do you think Mr. Cox found out in October about where this case was going to convince him to stay on? And how soon will the rest of us find out?

Monday, December 06, 2004

That Special Politician

Click the picture to help run this ad.

Merry X-Mas Tom Delay!

Potential New Ethics Charges Against DeLay

Newsweek published an article entitled "DeLay: More Cash—And More Questions." It seems that DeLay, in addition to cramming his war chests full of cash, has been filling his legal defense fund with "donations" from lobbyists (which, according to Public Citizen, is another violation of the House ethics rules but DeLay's office has already promised to return those).

The contributors are laundry list of who's who in corporate America. Two of the more intriguing givers are Bacardi USA and Reliant Energy -- both of whom have been indicted in Texas along with three of DeLay's close associates for violating campaign finance laws as part of the investigation into the redistricting case.

Newsweek questioned DeLay's people about the contributions to the defense fund and they said:


...the checks from Weber and Locke Liddell would be returned promptly; some of the other checks cited by Public Citizen would not because they were signed by wives of the lobbyists rather than the lobbyists themselves. "Obviously we take great care in making sure that we abide by the rules," said DeLay spokesman Jonathan Grella.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that my definition and DeLay's spokesman's definition of "great care" aren't even in the same ballpark.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Free Book

Our petition to demand that Hastert schedule a recorded vote on the DeLay Rule is nearing 5,000 signatories. As of 7:20 this morning, we have 4,891 signers.

Can we get to 5,000 today? How about a little old-fashioned incentive:

A free book to the 5,000 signer -- my colleagues Micah Sifry and Nancy Watzman's
Is That a Politician in Your Pocket? Washington on $2 Million a Day is the contemporary read on money in politics. We will send you your own copy if you put us over the top.

If you have your heart set on the book, there are two more ways to get one: First, after
you sign the petition, use our tell-a-friend feature, and if the 5,000 signer comes from your outreach, we will send you a book, too.

Second, and this one is guaranteed, go to
Amazon or the service of your choosing and purchase one. It is well worth the ten bucks.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

More on the DA taking on DeLay, and a good short big picture piece in Slate

The Christian Science Monitor profiles District Attorney Ronnie Earle today, including a short vignette of Earle turning himself in for campaign finance violations. Ever hear of that before? A politician turning himself in and accepting a fine without a countersuit? The article also has an on-line poll about whether the investigation upholds democracy or is partisan. Vote you are there.

Also today,
Chris Suellentrop of Slate writes up a short big picture of what the DeLay Rule symbolizes. (Great headline: Corrupt? Absolutely.)

The nut passage, for my money, is this one:

Conveniently, the DeLay vote has enabled liberals and conservatives to agree: Are congressional Republicans out-of-touch plutocrats, concerned only with using the power of incumbency to perpetuate their rule? Or are they ideological traitors who have forsaken the principles that got them elected in the first place? The answer is yes.

More on DeLay and Prison Money

Per usual, American Progress Action Fund and its Progress Report has the lowdown on the CCA $100,000 gift to the foundation run by DeLay. Read it all here.

In addition, they make DeLay and his dirty money the talking point of the day.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Updates: MT Rep. Rehberg & GA Rep. Gingrey

Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) did not cast a vote on the DeLay Rule, according to the Billings Gazette today. His office had initially told constituents that he would not say how he voted -- a Refuser -- but today he cleared it up. He said he would have voted for the DeLay Rule, but he had stepped out of the room, and therefore did not voice a vote.

On another note, a spokesman for Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (registration required) today that the Daily DeLay has it wrong -- Rep. Gingrey did not oppose the DeLay Rule. (We could clear all this up WITH A RECORDED VOTE, you know.) But Rep. Gingrey is in Taiwan. So we will have to wait to get a little more clarification.

For some reason, there were a lot of members not there for this vote. Did they have a quorum? Did a majority of the full conference adopt it? Inquiring minds want to know.

Server trouble solved

The server hosting the new and improved vote count went down an hour ago. I apologize to those who have not been able to view it. We have moved it to our server at Public Campaign Action Fund, and it is now fully operational.

(Thanks again to Wray Cummings, who has done great work on this -- if anyone is looking for help on similar projects, get in touch with Wray -- look for the faint link at the bottom of the vote count page.)

I know many of you may have posted the vote count on your own blogs on websites. This new link -- http://www.pcactionfund.org/votecount/dr.htm -- is now on a steadier server and will be where we continue to update the count with new information. PLEASE take a minute to update your links to this new location. Again, I am sorry for any inconvenience.

Irony just doesn’t begin to capture it

Okay, you’re Tom DeLay and you have pretty good reason to believe you’re under investigation for raising illegal corporate contributions. Three of your associates have been indicted for raising money for a state Political Action Committee modeled after your national PAC, and eight corporation have been indicted for giving the contributions. Lots of people have spilled a lot of ink on whether you will be indicted and, if so, when.

Adding more attention than you want on this matter, your colleagues just voted to give you a Get Out of Jail Free card. Kinda makes it look like you’ve done something wrong, doesn’t it?

So how ironic is it that your charity receives $100,000 from a private prison corporation called Corrections Corporation of America?

Read the gory details in the Houston Chronicle reprint of the Lexington Herald-Leader article entitled "Prison company gave DeLay $100,000".

LEXINGTON, KY. - U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, whose aggressive campaign fund-raising is the subject of a Texas grand jury investigation, took a $100,000 check from a private prison company at a Lexington fund-raiser in August for a charity he operates.

DeLay, R-Sugar Land, has refused to identify donors to his nonprofit DeLay Foundation for Kids, despite calls for disclosure from government-ethics groups that criticize anonymous, unlimited gifts to the charities of powerful members of Congress.

However, Corrections Corporation of America confirmed last week that its chief executive officer, John Ferguson, traveled to Lexington to present $100,000 to DeLay's charity.

And the money is for kids. That’s a good one.

MN's Kennedy and Kline Still Refusing to Admit How They Voted

Thanks to protestors in the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes, we still do not know where Rep. Kennedy and Rep. Kline of Minnesota stand… which is a development, sort of. (Thanks to G.P. for the post.)

According to a story that appeared in the Minneapolis Start Tribune, Rep. Kennedy's office may have let the cat out of the bag. A Kennedy field representative told a group of protestors during a rally at his St. Cloud office that the Congressman did indeed vote for the DeLay Rule. But when contacted by the paper, the chief of staff of the congressman disputed the account and said the charges made by the protestors were “politically motivated.” (Gees… that sounds awfully familiar!) When the paper asked if they could interview the staffer who supposedly made that claim, his office said that that would be against company policy.

Rep. Kline’s office still won’t say how he voted but are ok with saying that the member is “perfectly comfortable” with the rule change. Way to take a stand!


Perhaps the Daily DeLay is not the only one keeping score. Maybe this man is.