Tuesday, October 18, 2005

"There's always a way..."

Jim Drinkard of USA Today reports on a conversation that indicted former Majority Leader Tom DeLay had with a Texas businessman in 1996, in which he advised him that there are "ways to get money moved around the system," and had an aide follow up with details.

After following the advice, and moving money to out-of-state candidates and committees, Pete Cloeren pled guilty to campaign finance violations. The complaint he filed with the Federal Election Commission against DeLay was dismissed, but the scenario Cloeren describes bears striking similarities to transactions for which DeLay has been indicted twice by a Texas grand jury.

"Based on the allegations, it seems that Tom DeLay has no problem with recommending the use of conduits to hide the source of money going to campaigns," said Larry Noble, director of the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. "He seems to be somebody who likes playing in the gray areas, and occasionally stepping over the line."

Drinkard also draws attention to the links between the indicted DeLay and the scandalized lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

"For the convention in Philadelphia in 2000, DeLay took his concierge role to a new level, setting up a fenced-off camp of vintage rail cars loaned by Union Pacific and collecting money from corporate sponsors to lavish food and drinks on House Republicans — and the lobbyists who were picking up the tab. Corporate sponsors included Enron, UPS and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians."

"The Indian tribe's donation is evidence of yet another link in DeLay's network, and one that looms as a major problem: Lobbyists Abramoff and Scanlon are under federal investigation for their activities on behalf of tribes with gambling operations, including the Mississippi Choctaws, for which they billed the tribes $82 million"

Mike Johnson, a lobbyist and former GOP leadership aide in the House said that DeLay's path to Republican dominance may have come at a price.

"What he has brought to the process is that Texas-sized bravado and hubris — that you do things bigger and better and faster than before to accomplish your mission," he said. "That attracts attention, but it also attracts gunfire."

Anyone who has studied the Greek tragedies know what hubris leads to...Oedipus, Odysseus, DeLay?


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