News Round-up, Sunday, Part III, TIME Magazine travel section
(TIME also adds the letter to Hastert from former GOP reps!)
Here's a snippet:
It was congress's holiday for memorial Day 2000, and majority whip Tom DeLay's staff thought the boss and two top aides deserved a respite from the arduous hours they had been putting in doing the people's business. They wanted to make sure DeLay's little delegation had the finest of everything on its weeklong trip to Britain—from lodgings at the Four Seasons Hotel in London to dinners at the poshest restaurants with the most interesting people, right down to the best tickets for The Lion King—at the time, one of the hottest shows playing on the West End and one for which good seats usually meant a six-month wait. So DeLay's congressional office turned to someone they trusted far more than any travel agent or concierge: lobbyist Jack Abramoff. "He ran all the trips," recalls a former top DeLay aide. "You ask where the itineraries came from, who made all the travel arrangements—it all came out of Jack's shop."
Previous trips had taken DeLay and members of his staff all over the world, but none had been planned quite as meticulously as this one.
Three sources who worked with Abramoff at the time say the majority whip's office ran one of Abramoff's assistants ragged with its constantly changing requests. Indeed, say two of those sources, the whole idea for the expensive London jaunt originated with DeLay aides as an additional stop on a golf outing that Abramoff had proposed to Scotland's famous St. Andrews course.
Abramoff delivered on virtually everything DeLay's staff requested.
And then DeLay delivered for Abramoff's clients, the Native American tribe and the gambling company, that financed the trip.
It was easy for DeLay's allies to dismiss signs of erosion in his support early last week when they were largely confined to criticism by moderate Republican Congressman Chris Shays, often a voice of dissent within the ranks. But it was more difficult after 10 former Congressmen, all Republicans, signed a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert imploring him to reverse recent revisions in the House rules that were apparently designed to shield DeLay from being investigated by the ethics committee. What's more, conservative Tom Tancredo of Colorado, while professing his confidence in DeLay's innocence, told his hometown paper that it's "probably not the worst idea" for DeLay to step down as leader until he resolves the ethical controversies that are springing up around him. (emphasis added)
On a personal note, I will be handing over the full blogging responsibilities to Nancy Watzman and Rick Bielke, who have been posting from time to time for a few days next week while I participate in the Boston Marathon on Monday and travel with my family on Tuesday. You're in great hands. Back later in the week.