Friday, May 27, 2005

DeLay Again Featured on NBC Show; Majority Leader Steps up Attack

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, stepped up his rhetoric against NBC yesterday in an on-going feud over the use of his name in primetime television shows.

In Wednesday's season finale of Law & Order, a police officer searching for a suspect in a murder of a federal judge suggested looking for "somebody in a Tom DeLay T-shirt."

The latest flap was touched off by next week’s “Fear Factor” episode, which features one segment in which House Ethics Committee members are challenged to go on the record supporting an investigation into DeLay’s many scandals. Rep. DeLay, nicknamed ‘The Hammer’ for his hard-charging ways, wrote a letter in protest of the network.

“NBC is out to besmirch my good name before the Ethics Committee has the opportunity to clear me,” said DeLay, in a prepared statement. “The time will come for the TV producers responsible for this to answer for their behavior.”

One member of the House, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of losing campaign contributions, said that DeLay ought to lighten up. “He knows that none of the Republicans on the committee would pass this test,” said the member, a Republican. “If they do, he can just remove them from the committee. What’s the big deal?”

NBC had no immediate comment.

Last week, the network’s entertainment chief, Kevin Reilly, defended the Law and Order use of DeLay’s name. “It's not unusual for L & O to mention real names in its fictional stories. We're confident in our viewers' ability to distinguish between the two,” he said.

But that didn’t stop DeLay from stepping up the war of words. Caught before heading into fundraising event at a golf course, DeLay reacted with strong words about the upcoming show.

“NBC may think it is okay to use my name in a show that blurs the line between fiction and real life. But this here’s a so-called reality show. Viewers of NBC’s ‘Fear Factor’ know that show is for real. What excuse will they trot out this time?”

In an unrelated matter, DeLay’s office announced that the next congressional elections will be run under the rules of CBS's ‘Survivor’ and will be held on the Northern Marianas Islands, newly annexed into DeLay’s suburban Houston district. Democrats have asked the courts to look at the matter.

“We will vote the Democrats off the island once and for all,” the Majority Leader declared.

(Have a great Memorial Day weekend, folks. -- DD)

DeLay Goes Hollywood (and he's not happy about it)

Tom DeLay responded angrily to the use of his name on the popular NBC drama "Law and Order: Criminal Intent" yesterday. CNN's "Inside Politics" reports that the "ripped from the headlines" episode centers around the murder of a federal judge in which a police officer investigating the crime suggests that they put out an A.P.B. for "somebody in a Tom DeLay t-shirt."

It's easy to understand why you can watch an episode of "Law and Order" any hour of the day in America.

DeLay, who has been an outspoken critic of "activist judges," responded:
"I can only assume last night's slur was in response to comments I have made in the past about the need for Congress to closely monitor the federal judiciary, as prescribed in our constitutional system of checks and balances."


You mean checks and balances like an ethics committee, Leader DeLay?

The show's executive producer, Dick Wolf responded to DeLay's angry letter to the president of NBC by saying: "I do congratulate Congressman DeLay for switching the spotlight from his own problems to an episode of a TV show."

And CUT.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Bad, bad man

Watch out, Republican members of Congress:

MoveOn.org PAC announced it's taking its campaign to fire Tom DeLay to your district next week, just in time for you to be there, unless you are travelling on a lobbyist's credit card to play golf overseas. MoveOn.org PAC's Tom Matzzie puts it succinctly:

"Tom DeLay is a bad, bad man."

What do we suggest we do with a "bad, bad man"? Well, if he's in Congress, we should demand that he resign. Now.

Public Campaign Action Fund statement

We released the following statement today...

TEXAS JUDGE FINDS DELAY’S POLITICAL COMMITTEE GUILTY OF VIOLATING CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAW

Washington—The watchdog group Public Campaign Action Fund released the following statement from its National Campaigns Director, David Donnelly, regarding today’s ruling against Tom DeLay’s Texans for a Republican Majority PAC (TRMPAC):

“In a court of law DeLay’s TRMPAC was found to have concealed from the public record more than half a million dollars in corporate campaign donations, in violation of state law.

“This decision, with an impartial judge and all the evidence laid out, further underscores the need for the House Ethics Committee to appoint an outside counsel. The public will not trust Tom DeLay’s cronies in Congress to do what Judge Hart did today; specifically, he ruled on the facts, not the politics, of the case.

“Americans from across the nation need to ask themselves yet again whether they want a Congress led by a man with countless ethical violations, scandals, donors to repay, and, now, a guilty verdict against his own political committee.

“Most importantly, this finding of guilt should give all of Tom DeLay’s Republican colleagues in Congress pause in considering the political future of their chosen Majority Leader.”

Public Campaign Action Fund is a national nonprofit watchdog organization dedicated to working to advance comprehensive reform of the campaign finance system to level the playing field for all Americans, and to holding elected officials accountable for the favors they do for their political contributors.

###

TRMPAC first takes...

Initial coverage from...

Austin American-Statesman

Associated Press

Judge finds against DeLay's TRMPAC

From Texans for Public Justice:

Court Ruling Finds TRMPAC Violated Texas Campaign Laws

(Austin, TX) In the first civil lawsuit alleging misuse of corporate money in the Texas 2002 state elections to go to trial, Travis County District Judge Joseph Hart today ruled that Tom DeLay's Texas political committee, Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC) violated Texas campaign law when it failed to disclose more than a half-million dollars in corporate contributions.

Judge Hart awarded $196,660 to the five plaintiffs, all Democratic candidates who lost in 2002.

In reaction to the ruling, Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice said,

"Today's ruling is bad news for Tom DeLay and his TRMPAC cronies. This ruling draws blood from the financial heart of DeLay's corrupt political empire. This is likely to be but the first of many guilty verdicts against TRMPAC and its leaders.

"Today's judgment confirms that TRMPAC blatantly violated Texas election law. Its the first step in holding TRMPAC's leaders accountable for the corruption they levied on Texas' politics.

"This ruling will hasten the end of DeLays white-collar crimes against democracy.

"It sends a strong message to all the Tom DeLays who act as if they are above the law: Don't mess with Texas elections."

Texans for Public Justice filed the original criminal complaint against TRMPAC's 2002 fundraising activities with Ronnie Earle, the Travis County District Attorney. Multiple criminal indictments are pending against three of Tom DeLays aides who carried out TRMPAC's activities. A grand jury investigation into TRMPAC is ongoing.

Background on TRMPAC Civil Suit:

The plaintiffs in the civil suit (Paul Clayton, et al v. Bill Ceverha & Texans for a Republican Majority) were five Democratic candidates for the Texas House (one incumbent, 4 challengers) who were defeated by TRMPAC-supported Republicans in 2002 general elections.

The defendants were TRMPAC and its Treasurer, William Ceverha, of Dallas. Both John Colyandro and Jim Ellis had been named as defendants in the suit, but the claims against them were temporarily abated due to their ongoing criminal prosecutions. Colyandro faces multiple felony criminal indictments for his role in raising corporate money for TRMPAC and he and Ellis are under felony indictment for laundering corporate money through RNSEC.

Plaintiffs charged TRMPAC and its Treasurer with raising and spending approximately $600,000 in corporate contributions for political activities which is strictly prohibited under Texas law. (Including $190,000 in corporate funds that TRMPAC sent to the RNSEC that was returned in direct campaign contributions to TRMPAC endorsed Republican House candidates.) The prohibited activities included candidate recruitment, fundraising activities, polling, message development and voter identification efforts. Plaintiffs also charged that the defendants failed to report the contributions and expenditures in their Texas campaign disclosure reports. Plaintiffs sought approximately $1.2 million in damages (twice the amount of the illegal contributions.)

Tom DeLay was intimately involved in the entire TRMPAC operation. He served as head of TRMPAC's advisory board, admits that TRMPAC was created on his initiative, and that he raised money for TRMPAC. Documents show that DeLay attended multiple fundraising events where corporate dollars were solicited for TRMPAC.

Decision imminent in TRMPAC case... stay tuned

From Craig McDonald at Texans for Public Justice:

Travis County District Judge Joseph Hart is releasing the ruling in the TRMPAC civil suit momentarily.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Special Guest Star: David Donnelly

Moving Ideas, an electronic policy network, will host an online discussion today from 1:00 - 5:00 PM titled "Failing Congressional Ethics." Our own David Donnelly will be joined by Dr. Craig Holman of Public Citizen's Congress Watch, Mike Surrusco of Common Cause, and Michael Tomasky of The American Prospect, to discuss the House Ethics Committee and Tom DeLay's involvement with its members.

Tune in live and ask your questions here.

If you miss the chat, a transcript will be available here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Results Are In

A couple of weeks ago, we mentioned a contest that Al Kamen was running in the Washington Post to "Name That Scandal." "That scandal" of course being all of the recent troubles that Tom DeLay (R-TX) has been having with superlobbyists, expensive trips, etc.

Kamen has chosen his winners, from which David and I picked our favorites. Here they are, in no particular order...

  • "Tee-Putt Dome" submitted by Fred Thibodeau
  • "Exceedia.com" submitted by Clay O'Dell
  • "DeLaissez Faire" was submitted by Neil Quigley
  • "Gullible's Travels" submitted by Jack C. Sando
  • "ScanDelay," submitted by Holly Gardenier

Friday, May 20, 2005

Democracy 21 Releases Ethics Report

Democracy 21 today released a new report titled House Majority Leader DeLay's Ethics Problems: The Ethics Rules and Issues that Need to Be Addressed by the House Ethics Committee. You can read the report here.

Tip of the Audit

Yesterday, Meghan blogged about Phil Shenon's New York Times piece on an audit of DeLay's leadership PAC, ARMPAC. When I saw the story my immediate reaction that DeLay and his handlers released the story early to take the sting out of the real news. The spin they put on it was that it involved the committee was "cleared" -- in fact that's the headline the Times put on the story. Lawyers for DeLay spun out a line that the audit involved a small amount of money, that it was a routine audit, and that they were cooperating fully with the Federal Election Commission.

Pardon me for my skepticism.

But clearly the lawyers for DeLay know much much more than what they were willing to say yesterday. Today's Washington Post gives more details, after the newspaper compared old filings with the updated ones submitted recently by ARMPAC. It's a good piece of reporting by Jeffrey Smith and Derek Willis.

Here are some findings of the Post's analysis that DeLay and his lawyers don't want people to know:

1. ARMPAC's revised filings omit $15,523 in contributions previously reported. (Psst, Post: From whom? And why? And did this money go to ARMPAC's soft money committee? Or to TRMPAC?)

2. ARMPAC's revised filings add $51,755 in expenditures not previously reported. (Psst, Post: For what?)

3. ARMPAC is carrying debt -- $5,732.90 to be exact -- for a Puerto Rico fundraiser in 2002. (Psst, DeLay beat reporters or other enterprising researchers: Let's know more about that fundraiser DeLay and company failed to disclose.) An unpaid debt at some point has to be classified as a donation, right? And if this outstanding bill is from a corporation, then it can't be made to DeLay's hard money operation. In 2002, DeLay's ARMPAC also had a soft money committee (more on that in a minute). But that committee doesn't exist anymore.

But here's the big ticket item, and one in which additional attention is needed:

The revised filings also for the first time list a debt of $121,456 from ARMPAC's regulated campaign account to a separate ARMPAC account that took in unregulated donations in those years.

Jan Baran, a Republican lawyer who specializes in campaign law, said the listing of this debt evidently means that ARMPAC improperly used unregulated campaign contributions to finance certain expenses during those years and now must pay that sum back to comply with the rules.

Unregulated contributions are typically those donated directly by corporations, unions or other wealthy donors, often in excess of the limits imposed on contributions to regulated funds. The use of unregulated contributions by federal lawmakers was prohibited by a campaign finance law enacted in late 2002, forcing ARMPAC and similar committees to disband them.

That circumstance adds a wrinkle to the issue of how ARMPAC can now redress its mistake. Essentially, its debt is to an entity that no longer exists.

Baran says he could not assess whether any of the revisions made by ARMPAC represent serious mistakes until the FEC releases a final audit report and he sees whether the errors have attracted the interest of its office of general counsel, which can bring legal action and assess financial penalties.



One final item that has my mind racing this morning:

ARMPAC's executive director is none other than the indicted Jim Ellis, who in 2002, the period covered by this audit, was deeply involved in another of DeLay's political activities -- raising corporate money for Texans for a Republican Majority PAC for state races in Texas.

Do any of these possible violations or revised filings or debt, etc. involve Ellis and TRMPAC? Inquiring minds want to know.

Maybe Smith and Willis, or Shenon and his team of researchers can look deeper on this one. Or, maybe there's a District Attorney down in Travis County who is reading the Post story and asking himself the same question.

UPDATE: Another question pops to mind: Have there been any audits or revised fiilings in Texas for TRMPAC? Hmmm.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Thursday News Round-up

All's Clear on the FEC Front?

The Federal Elections Commission plans to release the report of an audit that was done on Tom DeLay's political action committee ARMPAC, according to Philip Shenon of The New York Times. The audit looked into allegations of "illegal contributions" received in 2001 and 2002.

"Mr. DeLay, the Texas Republican whose position as majority leader makes him the second-most-powerful lawmaker in the House, faces other ethics accusations that involve his fund-raising and ties to lobbyists. The executive director of Americans for a Republican Majority and its chief fund-raiser are under indictment in Texas for possible violations of state election law."

A leading Republican lawyer involved in election law called the audit "very unusual" and said that such investigations usually reflected "repeated questions about the accuracy and completeness" of a political committee's disclosure statements.

"There are 4,000 political action committees," he said, "and there may be only about two dozen audits a year, if that many."


Ouch!

Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times writes: "Judicial Slugfest Likely to Bruise Lawmakers' Image Further."

I think we all know who he's talking about.

"Since last year's election, the news in Washington has been dominated by Bush's drive to restructure Social Security that has generated majority opposition in polls; the congressional intervention in the case of the brain-damaged Florida woman, Terri Schiavo, which provoked a sharp backlash in public opinion surveys; the ethics charges swirling around House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas); and the escalating acrimony over Democratic efforts to block some of Bush's most controversial judicial appointments through the filibuster. "


News from Home

In today's Houston Chronicle, Tom DeLay blames Democrats for his ethics problems. It's unclear, however, how the Democrats are causing the latest ethics committee stalemate that has occurred as a result of staffing difficulties. According to rules, the staff director must be a non-partisan member of the committee's professional staff and be elected by the full committee.

"But Rep. Doc Hastings, the Washington Republican who chairs the panel, wants to elevate his personal chief of staff to the position," Samantha Levine writes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Ask Free Enterprise Fund...

ThinkProgress.com is asking the Free Enterprise Fund: Why Aren't Sex Slaves Featured in Your Ads?

"The Free Enterprise Fund (a right-wing group directed by CNBC's Larry Kudlow and supply-side hack Jack Kemp) has purchased 'well over $100,000' in television ads to defend Tom Delay. They say the ads will target the 'liberal media and government' who 'have been attacking free market principles and DeLay,' a great supporter of those principles.

"ThinkProgress could not be happier.

"For weeks we've been trying to get the media to pay attention to DeLay's greatest free market accomplishment – what DeLay calls his 'perfect Petri dish of capitalism. It's like my Galapagos island' – the Northern Mariana islands. There, human 'brokers' bring thousands of mostly young girls to work as sex slaves and in festering sweatshop garment factories (clothes there can be made with a misleading 'Made in USA' tag since the islands are U.S. territory). And for years DeLay has 'helped lead the fight' to keep it that way.

"This is Tom DeLay's free enterprise dream – sweatshops, exploitation, and zero employee rights. When he visited the islands in ‘97, DeLay toasted the sweatshop owners as a 'shining light' who represented 'everything that is good about what we are trying to do in America and leading the world in the free market system."'Last week DeLay said the workers there are 'beautiful people who are happy about what's happening.'

"So, Free Enterprise Fund, please, please share this dream with America. Go to the Marianas and visit the sweatshops and show America how 'happy' the workers are. You're our last hope.

(202) 421-9693 or info@freeenterprisefund.org if you'd like ask them yourself. "

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Take a Bite Out of Crime - Not DeLay

The Free Enterprise Fund, a conservative lobbying group, will beginning running ads on national cable and in DeLay's district this week, defending him from "shark attacks" by the "liberals and the media." According to Glen Justice of the New York Times, the ads say: "Don't let them take a bite out of Tom DeLay."

Monday, May 16, 2005

Don't Drink the Water

In today's Boston Globe, Susan Milligan writes up Tom DeLay's leading role on legislation that would relieve the MTBE ( methyl tertiary butyl ether) industry of almost all liability in the clean-up of contaminated water supplies in New England.

DeLay argues that because the additive was necessary to meet federal requirements, the industry should not be liable for the chemical seeping into groundwater. New Hampshire, as well as 60 communities in Massachusetts have sued the industry, claiming that the MTBE contamination increases the risk of cancer.

Here's the really interesting part...

"The Saudi company, SABIC, is a leading maker of MTBE. It faces loss of business and potentially heavy cleanup costs if Congress does not protect the industry from lawsuits. The company, which has a member of the Saudi royal family as its chairman, has an office in Houston and a research and technology center in Sugar Land, Texas, DeLay's hometown and political base."


Milligan goes on: "Delay has several companies that either make or use MTBE in his district. Those companies have contributed to his campaigns, although SABIC -- barred by law from contributing because it is foreign-owned -- has not done so, according to the Center for Responsive Politics."

A DeLay aide who spoke on condition of anonymity said that "no one in the office could recall a specific meeting" between DeLay and SABIC representatives, but it is possible they could have met in the district to discuss "matters of local interest."

Friday, May 13, 2005

Reporting Live from K Street

Andrea Seabrook of NPR captured the sights and sounds of the K Street Carnival o' Corruption.

If you didn't make it yesterday, listen here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4650739

With Friends Like These...

From ABC News' The Note: "Celebrity sightings include Bud Paxon and Susan Molinari; Frank Gaffney and James Guckert, heads together in a serious conversation; RNC chairman Ken Mehlman looking slightly uncomfortable as Morton Blackwell repeatedly called Nancy Pelosi a "San Francisco socialist...'"

James Guckert is better know to most as "Jeff Gannon," the disgraced, ultra-conservative, fake reporter.

Unclear whether he bought at ticket or was issued "press credentials."

DeLay's Last Supper

Mark Liebovich writes in today's Washington Post that a "heaping helping of devotion" was served up at the American Conservative Union's tribute to Tom DeLay last night. Only about 30 Republican House members were in attendance as guest dined on chocolate hammers and speakers "skewered" Democrats and members of the news media.



"Liberals and the news media served as the evening's recurring boogeymen and foils, no surprise given that DeLay and his defenders have repeatedly blamed this unholy duo for the ethical issues that loom over him," Liebovich writes.

Or maybe it's his lack of ethics that have led to his recent troubles? Just a thought.

In his speech, DeLay thanked the event hosts, speakers, his family, and his wife Christine, who stood by him "even back in the days, 20 years ago, when I made a lot of mistakes and was a self-centered jerk."

Twenty years ago, huh?


Chuck Lindell of the Austin American-Statesman compared the relative warmth of the crowd inside the Capitol Hilton to the chilly reception DeLay received from people on the street.

"More than 40 protesters greeted arrivals with signs with messages such as 'Feed the needy, not the greedy' and 'DeLay is '$lime.' Sidewalk performers, billed as the Carnival o' Corruption invited passers-by to spin a wheel to see which alleged ethical lapse would pop up next. Would it be quid pro quo?Associates charged with money laundering? Ethics committee violations?," Lindell writes.

"No ethics? No problem," called out a tuxedo-clad Kenneth Mayer, performingas
Ivan Tital of the Billionaires for Bush satirical troupe. "If you outlawbuying
politicians, only outlaws will own politicians," he added.



Tom Hamburger of the LA Times also wrote up the festive atmosphere outside the party.



"Demonstrators set up a balloon-laden 'wheel of corruption mocking DeLay's relationship with lobbyists and his foreign trips," Hamburger writes. "A young woman handed out bars of soap to arriving dinner guests, asking them to 'Clean up Congress.'



Anne Kornblut writes in the New York Times wrote that while DeLay barely mentioned the recent ethical controversies that have swirled around him, several of the speakers were more direct in their message.



"Tom, please hang in there," said former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms.

David Keene of the sponsoring organization American Conservative Union said: "We are conservative, we are proud of our leaders, we stand with our own, and none of us are going away anytime soon."

He forgot to add, "Well, except maybe Scotland. Or the Marianas. I hear Puerto Rico is lovely this time of year..."

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Wounded

Jill Zuckman of the Chicago Tribune and Knight-Ridder covers tonight's festivities and caught this little tidbit of a quote:

"We don't run from our wounded," declared Paul Weyrich, president of the Free Congress Foundation.


Wounded, indeed.

Reporting and Pictures from the Carnival

NPR's Peter Overby and Andrea Seabrook do a one-two punch tonight. Overby covers DeLay's money ties to other GOP members, including a great quote from Rep. Ray LaHood. His basic story line: There are precious few GOP members who can be objective in investigating DeLay. Seabrook examines the scrample among the GOP members and their staffs to find out what the ethics rules actually are, including a handy card staffers can carry in their wallets. Side #1: Don't solicit anything (PDF). Side #2: Except for these (PDF). Sounds like a plan.

Lou Dubose writes up a description of someone who won't be there to tribute Tom DeLay tonight for TomPaine.com.

Meghan went over to the Carnival earlier this evening and took a few pictures...

Wheel of Fortune

Corruption smash

Looks like fun!

While DeLay parties in DC tonight with friends

...his constituents in TX-22 are raising their voices:

May 12, 2005

Representative Tom DeLay
242 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Rep. DeLay,

As constituents of yours in the 22nd Congressional District of Texas, we write to share our on-going frustration with your out-of-touch service in Congress.

Tonight, in Washington, D.C., you are attending a tribute with 1,000 big donors, insiders and colleagues in the House of Representatives. But you have not attended to the needs of our district.

We sit in traffic every day, but you've opposed sensible public transportation to help alleviate the traffic jams.

We worry about our retirement security, but you propose privatizing the Social Security system to reward donors on Wall Street.

We see our teachers and schools suffer with less, but you say "education is not my job."

Meanwhile, you're content to spend time traveling overseas with highly-paid lobbyists to play golf and go to expensive restaurants.

Recently, a poll was released by a TV station in Houston that said that 57% of people in this district want you to resign from Congress or step down as Majority Leader. We're shocked that you react to news like this by going forward with a "tribute" thrown by friends in Washington.

No wonder the voters of this district are ready to choose no representation over the corrupt, out-of-touch leadership you've provided for too long.

Signed,

Residents of Texas' 22nd Congressional District

THIS IS YOUR LIFE, TOM DELAY: A Decade Of (Dubious) Achievement

May 2005
Dogged by scandal for his unethical behavior, Tom DeLay is “saluted” at the Capital Hilton at a gala sponsored by the American Conservative Union. More than 100 of DeLay’s constituents respond by sending him a letter critical of his decision to celebrate while he neglects the needs of people in his district.

May 2004
Tom DeLay fights to keep a provision in pending energy legislation to free makers of MTBE from liability. The additive has contaminated water supplies throughout the country. DeLay claimed that the bill was in danger not because of the MTBE provision but because of “trial lawyers…and also the environmental extremists.” DeLay has taken $567,400 from the oil and gas industry since 1989, which makes him the fourth top recipient in the House. (Sources: Houston Chronicle, 05/21/04, Center for Responsive Politics)

May 2003
In the middle of a fracas between Republicans and Democrats about redistricting in Texas, DeLay’s staff calls the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and asked officials there to track down Democratic members of the Texas State Legislature. The Democrats had taken a plane out of the capital city of Austin as a way to prevent a quorum in the House and protest the redistricting scheme. In October 2004, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct officially admonished DeLay for his actions. (Source: House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.)

May 2002
Tom DeLay says, unlike virtually every other lawmakers, he has no intention of returning campaign contributions he received from scandal-plagued Enron, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. (Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 11, 2002)

May 2001
“I am going to shock you. I don’t think there is enough money in the campaign system,” Tom DeLay tells the House Administration Committee at a hearing on campaign finance reform legislation to ban soft money. (Source: The New York Times, 05/02/01)

May 2000
Tom DeLay travels to London and Scotland on a trip arranged by lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Abramoff and another lobbyist, Edwin A. Buckham, put much of DeLay’s and his wife’s expenses on their credit cards, including airfare, food, phone calls, and other items. House ethics rules prohibit lawmakers from accepting travel and related expenses from registered lobbyists, even if they are reimbursed by a non-lobbyist. (Source: The Washington Post, 04/24/05).

May 1999
The House Ethics Committee issues a rare private rebuke to DeLay for “badgering a lobbying organization over its hiring of a Democrat as its president.” DeLay had complained to the Electronic Industries Alliance and the GOP House leadership the October before about its hiring of a former Democratic congressman from Oklahoma, Dave McCurdy. After DeLay voiced his complaint, House leaders showed their displeasure with the group by postponing votes on an international treaty that the association wanted. (Source: The New York Times, 5/14/99)

May 1998
With the House about embark on debate over campaign finance reform legislation banning soft money, Tom DeLay supports a rule that would allow consideration of dozens of competing proposals, called a GOP stall tactic by campaign finance reform supporters. (Source: Political Finance & Lobby Reporter, May 27, 1998.)


May 1997
A Washington lobbyist writes a memo about a planned trip for Tom DeLay to Moscow, part of a lobbying effort by a mysterious Bahamas-based company, Chelsea, aimed at “building support for policies of the Russian government for progressive market reforms and trade with the United States.” In August, DeLay and several staff members travel to Russia. There they meet with lobbyists Jack Abramoff and Julius “Jay” Kaplan. During this period, DeLay continually voted to support institutions bolstering Russia, for example, voting for funds used by the International Monetary Fund to bail out the Russian economy in 1998. (Source: The Washington Post, 4/6/05)

May 1996
On May 14, 1996, Edwin Lupberger, then the CEO of Entergy Corp., writes 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.

He 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, DeLay went to the floor of the House to push the law’s repeal. (Micah L. Sifry and Nancy Watzman, Is That a Politician in Your Pocket?)

May 1995
Tom DeLay stalls negotiations on a budget reduction bill by insisting that the legislation stop the the Envieronmental Protection Agency from implementing auto and industrial pollution controls under the 1990 Clean Air Act. Since 1989, DeLay has accepted $262,000 from electric utilities and $268,000 from the automotive industry for his campaigns. (Sources: Associated Press, 05/12/95, Center for Responsive Politics).

(Mis-) Dialing for DeLay

Max Blumenthal and Oliver Willis shared an example of a really wrong number on The Huffington Post yesterday.

"I received a message the other night from 'Boyd' of the American Conservative Union inviting me to a dinner tommorow evening at the Capitol Hilton where Tom DeLay will be defended against "these spurious charges," Blumenthal writes. "Unfortunately for Boyd, I was not the 'recognizable conservative' he was trying to reach."

Listen to the message here. It's a classic.

News Round-up

Facts on the Attack?

Mike Soraghan writes up Colorado Rep. Bob Beauprez's #2 spot on the DeLay rankings in today's Denver Post. Beauprez spokesman Jordan Stoick calls the rankings the work of "an attack group," and refuses to respond to the fact that Beauprez has taken $20,000 in campaign contributions from ARMPAC, given $1,000 to DeLay's legal defense, and voted with the Majority Leader 96% of the time.

Maybe I'm wrong...I didn't think stating the facts qualified as an attack.

Soraghan also quotes Michael Huttner, executive director of ProgressNow.org, who called on Beauprez earlier this week to give back contributions from DeLay.

"We are concerned that Beauprez is being bought and sold by Tom DeLay," Huttner said.

RSVP Regrets Only

Sheryl Gay Stolberg curtain-raises on the tonight's festivities in honor of DeLay in The New York Times by noting that not a whole lot of Republican members of Congress have signed up for tonight's tribute dinner sponsored by the American Conservative Union. Only four Republican House members have bought tables for $2,000 a pop. About three dozen representatives are expected to attend.

Rep. Melissa Hart (R-PA), who has taken donations from DeLay's PAC and has been named to head the Ethics Committee probe, will not attend the event as initially reported.

"The sparse attendance by House members, and the miscommunication about Ms. Hart, suggest the delicate nature of having a dinner in Mr. DeLay's honor," Stolberg writes.

"This being Washington," Stolberg writes, a number of lobbyists are still expected to attend, even though organizers claim they did not "troll K Street for table sales."


It's unclear whether DeLay's good buddy Jack Abramoff was invited or will attend.



Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Step Right Up!

Feel like Congress is a circus these days?

You're not alone! Come on out to the Capitol Hilton at 16th and K Streets in Washington, DC Thursday evening at 5:30 where high-powered elected officials and well-heeled lobbyists will be feting Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX).

The K Street Carnival o' Corruption will be handing out bars of soap to help Congress clean up its act without DeLay. Carnival attendees will also have a chance to spin Tom DeLay's "Wheel of Corruption" and test the strength of the recent public outcry in the "Amazing 17-foot Corruption Smash."

Two spectacles for the price of one!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

People are talking...

Check out what MyDD.com and David Sirota are saying about the DeLay rankings.

Chris Bowers writes on MyDD.com:
"The current Republican Congress is so deeply under DeLay's thumb that it is hard for me to imagine how even another ethical rebuke will cause him to lose his leadership postition...At the same time, so many people are in DeLay's pocket, that his scandals will eventually come to consume several other Republican members."

David Sirota says on the Sirotablog that the www.InDeLaysPocket.com is:
"an important tool in the 2006 elections, especially considering new polling showing America's opinion of Congress has hit an 8-year-low."

Take a look at this new Gallup poll.

Dish the DeLay Dirt About Your Rep!

Now that the DeLay Rankings web page is up and running, we'd love to hear from you. Is your representative way up there on the list? Do you have any other information about how cozy he or she is with Tom DeLay? Maybe you have a news clip to share about your representative attending a fundraiser with the majority leader. Maybe you know that your representative carried water for DeLay on a particular piece of legislation. Maybe you have had any problems with the site, or if you ideas about how we can improve it. Maybe you just want to vent a bit. We're here to listen, so please post away!

Rep. Feeney's "Dubious" Honor

Tammy Lytle at the Orlando Sentinel writes up the DeLay Rankings today and says that "Oviedo Rep. Tom Feeney has ranked No. 1 in Congress but some might consider it a dubious distinction."

How close is your member of Congress to Tom DeLay?

We've answered that question with The DeLay Rankings at InDeLaysPocket.com.

With the ethical cloud hanging over DeLay and the tribute to him scheduled for Thursday in DC (how tone deaf is he?), we felt it was time people around the country started asking their member of Congress, Just how close are you to Tom DeLay?

We looked at six categories, including how much DeLay's PAC donated to the representative, how much the rep gave to DeLay's legal defense fund, how often they voted the same way as DeLay (going back until 1991!), and so on.

Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Florida, was ranked numero uno for sidling up to Mr. DeLay. That's no surprise, given Feeney's statement to the St. Pete's Times:

"He takes very good care of his members, he understands their needs, and then when he needs to get votes for an issue, he's got a lot of good will built up."


Or bought, don't you mean?

The rest of the top five include Reps. Bob Beauprez (R-CO), Jim Ryun (R-KS), Dave Weldon (R-FL), and Jim Gerlach (R-PA).

How's your rep stack up? You can also search your own state delegation...

Monday, May 09, 2005

WWJD?

Arianna Huffington blogs today on the hypocrisy of Tom DeLay "stepping up at the mike at the National Day of Prayer service last week and making a call for humility." Tom DeLay apparently said:

Think of what we could accomplish if we checked our pride at the door, if collectively we all spent less time taking credit and more time deserving it. If we spent less time on our soapboxes and more time on our knees.


Notes Huffington: "Transcripts of the event do not note whether any of the attendees broke out in laughter or choked on their bread rolls."

A truly transcendent moment.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Brick by brick a wall is built... how does it crumble?

Anne Kornblut of the New York Times has a piece leading off the "Week In Review" section today, complete with a huge picture of a smiling Tom DeLay with hand outstretched, that answers the question, Why are Republicans standing by their man?

Her answers are found here (emphasis added):

The reason, it seems, is that over the years, brick by brick, Mr. DeLay has built a wall of political support. His small acts of kindness have become lore. Pizza during late night votes.

Travel arrangements for low-level lawmakers. Birthday wishes, get-well cards, condolences for House members in emotional need.

On a larger scale, friends - and enemies - describe him as a favor-trader extraordinaire, piling up a mountain of goodwill. Almost every Republican in the House owes Mr. DeLay for something - a job, a piece of legislation or a large campaign contribution.

While the familiar Democratic caricature of Tom DeLay is that of a red-cheeked tyrant who started out as a bug exterminator and rose to power in Congress with a force that earned him the nickname "the Hammer," it is his cannier, more responsive side that appears to have won such a robust defense.

The powerful are indebted to him. J. Dennis Hastert was a relatively little-known representative from Illinois before Mr. DeLay catapulted him into the speaker's job in 1998.

The weak owe him as well. For the most imperiled Republican members of the House, Mr. DeLay created the "retain our majority" program, or ROMP.

His home state delegation is duty-bound because of his drive to redistrict Texas seats in favor of his party. K Street, the main drag for Washington's lobbyists, is home to many former DeLay staff members, as are Texas-based oil concerns (for which he has fought off stricter environmental standards).

And George W. Bush? Mr. Delay has pressed his Republican majority relentlessly to support the president's far-reaching legislation.

Clearly, Mr. DeLay has a geographic and ideological influence over broad swaths of his party that other politicians can only dream of.


Small and big favors. Attention to detail. Spreading money to where it's needed most . Expanding his party's majority.

It would be something to admire if it were done within the rules or without allegedly breaking the law.

The question for us, is how do we take on this type of power?

Unfortunately for Tom DeLay, a bricklayer's most important tool is not a "Hammer" as DeLay is nicknamed. It's a trowel, used to smooth the mortar that holds bricks together and sometimes to size bricks. And a brick wall built with suspect tools and techniques, on a corrupt foundation, is susceptible to crumbling under the weight of pressure.

It won't be taken apart brick by brick.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Bob Ney protest in Times Recorder of Zanesville

The Times-Recorder in Zanesville, Ohio picked up our press conference/protest of Rep. Bob Ney and his involvement in a shady purchase of a casino business in Florida by one of his donors. Ney still hasn't answered our questions.

Here's a long excerpt:

Surrounded by a handful of cheering residents, Becky Sheline strode into Congressman Bob Ney's district office in downtown Zanesville on Friday, demanding answers over his involvement with a controversial business deal in 2000.

Ney, R-St. Clairsville, is accused of allegedly using his political influence to facilitate a business deal involving Washington lobbyist Jack Abramhoff [sic] in the purchase of a chain of casino ships in Florida.

"We sent Ney to Congress so he could represent us, and I don't think he's representing the values and morals of this area," Sheline said. "I feel the citizens of the 18th District deserve answers to these questions."

According to recent reports in the Washington Post, Ney inserted remarks into the congressional record on two occasions in 2000 regarding the management of SunCruz Casinos.

The timing of Ney's statements, which coincided with sales negotiations between Abramhoff associate Adam Kidan and previous SunCruz owner Gus Boulis, has raised suspicion over the extent of his involvement.

The Public Campaign Action Fund helped organize Friday's event. Group spokesman David Donnelley [sic] said that, in light of the ethical turmoil enveloping Congress, the time is now for Ney to respond.

"We still don't have any answers to these questions." Donnelley said, "And if (Ney) won't answer our group, he can at least answer his constituents."

Ney is also under suspicion for exerting his political clout on behalf of Abramhoff regarding an attempt to reopen a casino in El Paso, Texas, run by the Tigua Indian tribe in 2002.


Despite the spelling errors of two names (mine and Abramoff -- probably the only thing we have in common), a pretty good account... Way to go Zanesville residents!

Friday, May 06, 2005

You have GOT to be kidding...

Okay, so this is a little off topic -- normally we focus on all things DeLay. But we couldn't resist:

Rep. Mike Bilirakis (R-FL) spoke very candidly to Anita Kumar at the St. Petersburg Times about what motivates him to take a special interest-funded trip. Blackjack.

Since 1997, Bilirakis has accepted eight trips for himself and his family to Las Vegas. Special interest groups have put him up in hotels like the Bellagio and Paris Las Vegas at a combined cost of nearly $40,000.

Bilirakis is quick to point out that the trips are legal, but he can understand why his constituents might find it suspect or unethical. In fact, he said he might be critical of it himself if he weren't a public official!

Bilirakis, who is vice chair of the House Energy and Commerce committee, said that most trips are paid for by the Consumer Electronics Association and the National Association of Broadcasters.

This article is full of great stuff. You should really go read the whole thing. Now.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Busy morning...

This morning we launched a petition campaign to call on Speaker Hastert to appoint a special counsel to investigate Tom DeLay. In America, you can't buy a jury. It's illegal. But DeLay, though his PAC, has given money to 225 or the 232 GOP members. We can't get an impartial ethics committee from that jury pool. Congress can't police itself.

We also faxed letters to Reps. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) and Bennie Thompson (D-MS) to ask them to answer allegations that appeared in a number of news outlets regarding travel they took to the Northern Mariana Islands with Jack Abramoff. We'll let you know of any response we get.

We're also preparing for a protest in the district of Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH). Ney hasn't replied to the letter we put together with other organizations to ask him a series of questions about the WaPo story on Sunday regarding the purchase and sale of SunCruz Casinos in Florida. Here's the who, what, when, where, and why... if you're in the area come on down!

Who: Constituents of U.S. Representative Bob Ney

What: Press Conference in front of Rep. Ney’s district office in Zanesville, OH

When: 12:00 noon, Friday, May 6th

Where: Masonic Temple Building, 38 North, 4th St., Zanesville

Why: Rep. Ney used his position in the House of Representatives to involve himself in a business deal regarding the sale of a Florida cruise line, SunCruz Casinos, that has little or nothing do with the interests of his constituents or Ohioans.

Individuals involved in the purchase and sale of SunCruz Casino are under federal investigation for allegations including mob influence, and one former owner was murdered.

Ohio Citizen Action, Public Campaign Action Fund, American Family Voices, and Campaign for America’s Future sent letters to Rep. Ney to ask him to answer specific questions regarding this matter after media reports earlier in the week, but have not received any reply.


And a copy of the letter is here.

Meghan will have a news round up soon...

Thursday News Round-up

Laughing all the way to the bank.

Rick Klein of The Boston Globe reports that Tom DeLay, in typical fashion, has "scoffed" at a proposal by Reps. Martin Meehan (D-MA) and Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) that would overhaul lobbying regulations. Meehan and Emanuel said that the bill is necessary to correct the flaws in the system that have recently come to light since the allegations of wrong-doing by DeLay and Abramoff.

Klein writes that DeLay "laughed out loud" when asked about the Democrats' suggestion that the bill might garner bipartisan support.

Delay and Hastert both said yesterday that the ethics committee "might need to give members more guidance regarding the types of trips acceptable under ethics rules, even raising the possibility of travel plans being submitted to the committee before a trip to ensure no rules are violated.

"There needs to be real guidance about what is acceptable and what is not acceptable," said Hastert.


This from a man who thinks that a jury bought and paid for by the defendant is "acceptable."


News From Texas

In a seeming departure from his previous assertions that he wants to go before the ethics committee and "clear his name," DeLay yesterday refused to commit to appearing in person under oath, according to Todd Gillman of the Dallas Morning News.

"I'm hoping that the ethics committee will abide by its process and procedures. And I will adhere to the process and procedures," DeLay said.


There is precedent, according to lawyers familiar with the House Ethics Committee, for investigators to meet "informally" with targets of a probe without putting them under oath.

Maybe DeLay and his buddies on the ethics committee can discuss it over a free round of golf?


With Friends Like These, Who Needs Frequent Flier Miles…

R. Jeffrey Smith and Derek Willis write on the front page of today's Washington Post that 12 current or former House and Senate leaders took at least 360 flights on corporate-owned jets between January 2001 and December 2004. Roy Blunt and Tom DeLay top the list with at least 140 trips – an average of one flight every ten days!! They're followed in frequency by Sens. Reid (D-Nev.) with 38, Frist (R-Tenn.) with 15, and Rep. Hastert (R-Ill.) with seven.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Call on Hastert to Appoint Outside Counsel

In response to the news that Reps. Cole and Smith were recusing themselves, Public Campaign Action Fund put out the statement below:

Watchdog Group Calls on Hastert to Appoint Outside Counsel on DeLay

WASHINGTON, May 4 -- Public Campaign Action Fund called on House Speaker Dennis Hastert to appoint an outside counsel to investigate Tom DeLay, and released the following statement from David Donnelly, its National Campaigns Director, on the decision by Representatives Tom Cole and Lamar Smith to recuse themselves from the Ethics Committee investigation into Tom DeLay's scandals:

"Congress has proven that it cannot police itself when it comes to matters of abuse of power. We call on Speaker Hastert to appoint an outside counsel to investigate Mr. DeLay.

"If Speaker Hastert rejects this call, he should use this test to determine who will review Tom DeLay's actions: Any member of Congress who has made a contribution to Tom DeLay's legal defense fund or received a contribution from his political action committee should be ineligible to sit in judgment of Mr. DeLay's unethical behavior.

"Nowhere in America but in Congress can a jury be bought by the defendant."

-END-

Breaking: Cole and Smith to recuse themselves from DeLay query

From the Associated Press:

Two Republican members of the House ethics committee will not participate in any investigation of Majority Leader Tom DeLay because they contributed to DeLay's legal defense chairman, the ethics panel chairman said Wednesday.

The chairman, Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said Reps. Lamar Smith of Texas and Tom Cole of Oklahoma agreed with him that the past contributions "raised doubts - however unwarranted - about whether those members would be able to judge fairly allegations of impropriety against Mr. DeLay."

[...]

If Smith and Cole recuse themselves, Hastings said he would ask Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., to designate two House members to serve temporarily in any DeLay investigation. The House will have a 20-member pool, 10 members from each party, to allow the speaker to chose temporary panel members. (emphasis added.)


The rest of the GOP members of the committee -- Reps. Biggert, Hart, and Hastings -- should also be replaced. They all took ARMPAC -- DeLay's PAC -- contributions. DeLay shouldn't be able to buy the jury. But if that leaves precious few GOP members not bought and paid for. Maybe Shays, Hefley... oh, the irony if that happened...

Corporate America: "Uncle"

Congrats to our friends at American Progress Action Fund.

With an innovative, citizen lobbying effort, they forced three major corporations to pledge to not to give any additional funds to pay for Tom DeLay's legal defense. American Airlines, Nissan and Verizon all made that pledge.

Keep up the pressure on Bacardi and RJ Reynolds by visiting DroptheHammer.org.

Making a Name for Himself.

Tom DeLay has made quite a name for himself in recent months. In Time magazine this week, Perry Bacon Jr. and Karen Tumulty write that according to a poll by Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg, DeLay’s name ID has hit 77 percent.

They also point out that calls to congressional offices concerning Delay have jumped sharply, and his fellow members of Congress are now hearing concern over the scandals when they go home to their districts.

Members of DeLay’s own party, like Mark Sounder (R-Ind.), an “ardent conservative and Delay supporter,” are finding themselves faced with tough questions that threaten to throw them off course.

Souder cautions that, as a scandal brews, “you have to ask how much are you hurting the movement. Tom has to make that decision.”

Let the Parlor Games Begin.

Al Kamen of The Washington Post, in anticipation of months of allegations, investigations and leaks surrounding Tom DeLay, has opened up a game of “Name that Scandal.”

"Names ending in -gate, while not banned, will start with a 10-point penalty. Themes could include golf, casinos, Native Americans, Scotland, travel, termites, and hammers and other household tools."


Come on, clever readers…name away. And when you enter the contest, please submit your suggestions here too. This is going to be fun…

Email your suggestions to intheloop@washpost.com and mention that the Daily DeLay blog sent you...

Wednesday News Round-up

What’s His Credit Card Limit Anyway??

New information in today’s New York Times shows that Jack Abramoff did indeed pay for trips to the Northern Mariana Islands for Tom DeLay, as well as two Democratic Congressmen and two DeLay aides. Abramoff paid for the trips, then asked the government of the Marianas to send him reimbursement checks. However, write Kate Zernike and Philip Shenon, House travel rules prohibit lobbyists from paying for Congressional travel at all, even if the cost is reimbursed by an authorized group or government agency.

Like another of DeLay’s Abramoff-funded jaunts, Abramoff used his personal credit card to pay for the travel, which is a blatant violation of House rules, according to ethics lawyers, and Abramoff’s former law firm.

DeLay’s spokesman Dan Allen said there was no need to complete a travel disclosure form for the Marianas trip because the islands are an American territory. He said he “did not know the exact payment details” of DeLay’s travel.

How convenient.


Hitting Close to Home.

Democracy for America has put up billboards in DeLay’s district to remind his constituents that “Lobbyists sent Tom DeLay golfing; all you got was this billboard." According to Matt Stiles at the Houston Chronicle, the billboards were erected south of downtown Houston and will remain there for a month.

Jumping to DeLay’s defense, Chris Stevens, chair of the Glaveston County Republican Party said:

"Who cares? He went golfing."


I think you’re missing the point here, Chris.


Not just a “Washington” problem…

Members of Congress who have cozied up to Tom DeLay might be looking over their shoulders in the 2006 elections. Lisa Vorderbrueggen at the Contra Costa Times writes that Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) was named as one of three dozen or so members of Congress who payroll family members on their campaigns. He’s also been linked to Tom DeLay through donations he received from “a tribal lobbyist currently under investigation.”

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Tuesday News Round-up

Friends to the End?

Wes Allison of the St. Petersburg Times writes that Delay has spent a lot of money cultivating the kind of friends who’ll stand by you when your ethical shortcomings become a distraction from your work.

"He takes very good care of his members, he understands their needs, and then when he needs to get votes for an issue, he's got a lot of good will built up," said Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo.

In 2002, Delay’s political action committee Armpac gave $10,000 to Feeney’s campaign.

However, purchased support and friendship may only extend so far. Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo), who was ousted as chair of the House ethics committee after admonishing Delay, said that even loyal Republicans might tire of the scrutiny of a long investigation.

"In politics," he said, "loyalty fades quickly if they sense there's blood in the water, and DeLay is walking a very thin line."

(Cue Jaws music)


Shaw’s IOU

Meanwhile in Florida…Dale M. King of the Boca Raton News writes that 2006 Congressional hopeful Ron Klein is calling for Rep. Clay Shaw (R-FL) to give back $30,000 in campaign contributions he has received from Delay. Shaw has contributed $5,000 to Delay’s legal defense fund.

Klein has also asked Shaw to answer several questions: “Will he return the contributions he received from DeLay? Why did he use contributions raised in Florida to help fund DeLay’s embattled legal defense? Would he support Mr. DeLay as majority leader if the vote where held today? And, will he continue to support Tom DeLay’s right wing political agenda?”

Shaw did not respond.


Independence Doesn’t Equal Money

Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) might be getting a little hot under the collar. Ari Melbar writes in today’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer that Reichert was elected last year by 5 percent by running as an independent thinker and distancing himself from national Republicans. He seems to have quickly forgotten his independent streak in Delay’s Congress, voting initially to gut ethics rules to protect Delay – a vote which earned him a spot on the Leader’s Top Ten Fundraising list and $150,000.


Harvard Weighs In

Editors at the Harvard Crimson are calling for Delay to resign. In a Monday editorial, they write that in the face of mounting concerns and allegations, Delay is more trouble for the Republican Party that he’s worth.

“If they are wise, GOP leaders will press for DeLay to be replaced by someone who can restore integrity to the Republican Party and earn the trust of the American people.”

Welcome to Meghan

Just a quick note to welcome Meghan Scott, the newest member of Public Campaign Action Fund's staff and contributor to the Daily DeLay blog. She'll be posting here quite regularly, I think...

Monday, May 02, 2005

More polling from DeLay's district: WOW.

36% of DeLay's Voters Say He Should Resign From Congress

From Channel 2 in Houston. The hemorraging hasn't stopped:

SurveyUSA asked 548 registered voters in the 22nd congressional district several questions about the embattled republican's performance.

In general, do you approve or disapprove of the job Tom DeLay is doing as Congressman?
51 percent disapproved
42 percent approved
7 percent were not sure

What letter grade would you give Tom DeLay for his job as congressman? An A, B, C, D, or an F?
A: 23 percent
B: 19 percent
C: 18 percent
D: 16 percent
F: 22 percent
Not Sure: 1 percent

Based on what you know right now, do you think Tom DeLay should remain in his position as House Majority Leader, he should resign as House Majority Leader but remain a member of Congress, or do you think he should completely resign from Congress?
39 percent: Remain House Majority Leader
21 percent: Resign Leadership
36 percent: Resign From Congress
4 percent: Not Sure

The poll had a margin of error of 4.3 percent, pollsters said.


36% say resign from leadership! My goodness. The people who know him best. Wow.

Questions for Bob Ney

Along with two other organizations, Public Campaign Action Fund sent this letter to U.S. Representative Bob Ney (R-OH) to ask him to answer just a few questions about his knowledge of facts in yesterday's Washington Post story:
American Family Voices ◦ Campaign for America’s Future
Public Campaign Action Fund

May 2, 2005

U.S. Rep. Bob Ney
2438 Rayburn House Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman Ney:

We are very concerned by facts reported this weekend by The Washington Post regarding your involvement with the sale of a Florida cruise line, SunCruz Casinos.

As you know, the sale involved the lobbyist and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay ally Jack Abramoff, financial fraud, and possible mob influence in the gangland-style shooting of the seller.

As public interest groups concerned with government ethics we are shocked that, as an eastern Ohio Congressman, you decided to involve yourself as a member of the House with a business deal that had so little to do with your constituents’ interests.

With regard to the story in The Washington Post, headlined, “Untangling a Lobbyist’s Stake in a Casino Fleet: With Millions of Dollars Unaccounted for, Another Federal Investigation Targets Abramoff,” we request that you set the record straight as to your involvement in the incidents reported, as follows:

1. When Michael Scanlon, the former DeLay spokesman and then-Abramoff business partner), asked you to make March, 2000 Congressional Record remarks targeting SunCruz founder Gus Boulis, did you or your staff ever ask him why you should do such a thing?

2. Why did you feel that SunCruz Casinos and Gus Boulis’s business practices in Florida were relevant to your duties representing your constituents in the 18th District of Ohio?

3. Why, in your Congressional record remarks, did you single Boulis out for attack and call for a federal investigation of his business practices? As The Washington Post reported, the effect of these remarks was to exert pressure on Boulis to agree to the sale terms proposed by Abramoff and Adam Kidan.

4. Were your remarks drafted for you wholly or in part by Michael Scanlon and/or his staff?

5. Were you aware at the time of those first Congressional Record remarks that Scanlon was working closely with Abramoff, and were you aware then that that Abramoff had entered into a secret and improper partnership with Kidan to buy SunCruz?

6. You later stated that you felt you were duped by Abramoff and Kidan, called them “nefarious individuals,” and said you had rejected them. When did you first conclude that they had duped you, and form the opinion that they were “nefarious”?

7. What was the contact that led to separate $1,000 contributions to your campaign on June 29 and 30, 2000 from Kidan, Abramoff, Abramoff’s wife, and Scanlon?

8. On Oct. 26, 2000, you inserted remarks in the Congressional Record stating that Adam Kidan “will easily transform SunCruz from a questionable enterprise to an upstanding establishment.” What was the basis for your belief that he would do so?

9. Were you aware, at the time of your second Congressional Record remarks, of Adam Kidan’s checkered background of lawsuits, liens, court judgments, bankruptcy, possible links to organized crime, or his use of a phony $23 million wire transfer and two separate checks for $2.5 million each which bounced, as part of the purchase of SunCruz?

10. Were you aware then that Kidan had been disbarred in New York two weeks after your first Congressional Record remarks for mishandling $100,000 he held in an escrow account for his stepfather?

11. Gus Boulis was killed in a gangland-style slaying on Feb. 6, 2001, after his deal to sell SunCruz to Abramoff and Kidan went sour. Adam Kidan reportedly arranged for $145,000 in payments starting less than two months before the slaying to mob-linked Anthony Moscatiello and his daughter, for which no work was apparently performed, according to The Washington Post. When did you first become aware that Kidan was a longtime acquaintance of Moscatiello, who had previously been indicted in New York in a case involving organized crime and members of the Gambino family?

12. Was Anthony Moscatiello present at the fundraiser that the casino boat executives held for you on March 15, 2001 in lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s skybox at the MCI Center, where Abramoff and Adam Kidan each contributed $1,000 to you? Did you know, at the time of this event, that Boulis had been murdered five weeks before your fundraiser?

13. Your spokesperson at the time, Neil Volz, indicated that you would return Kidan’s contribution. When reporters pointed out that FEC records indicate that never happened, you said your campaign had tried to refund the money but the checks were “returned to sender” because Kidan couldn’t be located. Could you provide copies of those returned checks, and have you made any subsequent efforts to return this money?

Thank you very much for your time and attention to these important questions. We look forward to your reply.

Yours truly,

David Donnelly
National Campaigns Director
Public Campaign Action Fund

Roger Hickey
Co-Director
Campaign for America’s Future

Michael Lux
President
American Family Voices

Mark your calendars: May 12

DeLay's allies are planning a tribute in Washington, DC.

But this is not the headline they were looking for from the Washington Post:

DeLay's 'Salute': A Wave Goodbye?

And former Senate minority leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) had this to say:

"The difference between a tribute and a eulogy is that during a tribute there is actually one person who believes every word."


Any guesses if Jack Abramoff will show?

News round up, Monday morning

Over the weekend, two major pieces appeared regarding DeLay's friend Jack Abramoff, the disgraced superlobbyist at the center of the junkets and Native American casino scandals.

James Grimaldi and Susan Schmidt of the Washington Post did a long investigative piece into the circumstances surrounding mob-style murder of Gus Boulis, a colorful businessman who ran the SunCruz casino operation which was sold to Abramoff and a business partner. Abramoff and Michael Scanlon, a former DeLay aide, convinced those associated with the purchase (including the lender) of their influence and power by inviting DeLay to attend a meeting at a stadium skybox, and by getting Rep. Bob Ney to insert remarks into the Congressional Record at will. The story also covers sleazy at best, reprehensiblly criminal at worst, behavior.

(Update: Newsie has a great analysis with additional links, including this diagram from the Post.)

The New York Times Magazine's Michael Crowley (long way from Beacon Hill days, eh, Mike?) sits down with Abramoff and does a long profile. The result? We end up not liking or believing the guy. It's a good read.

On Saturday, the New York Times (no link) covered the conflict of interest for Rep. Melissa Hart (R-PA) in her upcoming role as chair of the Ethics subcommittee investigating DeLay. She took money from DeLay's PAC and held a fundraiser at Jack Abramoff's restaurant. I say we need an outside counsel. Color me silly for not trusting a jury bought and paid for by the defendant.

This morning, Michael Hedges of the Houston Chronicle looks at the collision of the FBI investigation into Abramoff and Scanlon with the Ethics Committee's work, and Mark Benjamin of Salon examines the connections between DeLay's "charitable work" and his political world.

There's more, I'm sure. But that'll have to wait until a little later...