Monday, October 31, 2005

A not-so-veiled threat?

Roll Call is reporting on some flak that Exxon-Mobil is catching from Congressional Republicans concerning a $500 campaign contribution to DeLay opponent Nick Lampson.

$500. This is a company that just reported a $10 billion profit.

"It clearly forms an overall opinion in Congressional leadership that this company is going to have big problems if this is the way they're trying to play the game," said an unidentified senior House GOP leadership aide. "They have priorities they want that could be impacted." (emphasis added)

$500. In comparison to a $5,000 contribution in the same quarter to DeLay's campaign. So far this cycle, Tory Newmyer reports, a whopping 91 percent of Exxon's political contributions have gone to Republicans. I guess that's what a gift energy bill gets you.

"[The oil companies] are on the wrong side of the American people due to high gas prices," the aide continued. "And they're quickly getting on the wrong side of the majority party."

DeLay's Day in Court Part II

In a story headlined "GOP headaches set to multiply," John Bresnahan reports in Roll Call that the indicted former Majority Leader will be back in an Austin courtroom on Tuesday.

Friday, October 28, 2005

"The criminalization of conservative politics"

The Houston Chronicle reports on a letter that indicted former Majority Leader Tom DeLay sent to constituents this week in which he angrily claims that Democrats are practicing "politics of personal destruction."

Citing the recent spate of scandals in the nation's captital, DeLay writes: "What we're fighting is so much larger than a single court case or a single district attorney in Travis County. We are witnessing the criminalization of conservative politics."

DeLay goes on to attack prosecutor Ronnie Earle, saying: "Just because a rogue Democratic prosecutor doesn't agree with some political tactics doesn't make them illegal or even wrong. He has an opinion, but he doesn't make the law."

Thursday, October 27, 2005

DeLay and Exxon

ExxonMobil just posted record profits for the third quarter, some $9.92 billion, the largest quarterly profit of any corporation in U.S. history, according to the Associated Press.

DeLay owns at least $50,000 in ExxonMobil stock (pdf) and has taken $589,900 from oil and gas interests over his career. That's why he has passed legislative favors for them.

He's gotta be happy today.

How about you? Do you like paying close to $3 a gallon for gas just so ExxonMobil and its politician-stockholders can get record profits?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

"Everyone should see these actions for what they are"

Statement by David Donnelly, National Campaigns Director of Public Campaign Action Fund, in response to claims made by DeLay's attorneys in court today:

“Tom DeLay and his lawyers are acting desperate. Today, they filed, in court of law, a copy of a page from Public Campaign Action Fund’s website as some type of supporting documentation in their efforts to remove Judge Bob Perkins from DeLay’s trial. The page is a pre-order form for t-shirts with DeLay’s mug shot photograph from when he was booked for criminal conspiracy and felony money laundering.

“Public Campaign Action Fund collected no money from the pre-orders of t-shirts. For the time being, we have decided not to produce products – no clothing, mugs, pens, magnets, mouse pads, bobble-heads, or key chains – with the indicted former Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s smiling mug. Why this man is smiling when being booked for two felonies is still a source of mystery to us.

“Let’s set the record straight. We haven’t sold one t-shirt. We don’t anticipate selling any. DeLay’s lawyers are trying to divert the attention away from the seriousness of this crime for which DeLay is standing trial to a harmless, humorous t-shirt. Given how hard DeLay is smiling in his picture, you would think he had a sense of humor. They should be ashamed. Everyone should see these actions for what they are.”

More trouble for DeLay, hiding secret donations version


DeLay didn't report defense fund donations

WASHINGTON - Rep. Tom DeLay failed to comply with House requirements that he disclose all contributions to a defense fund that pays his legal bills, the Texas Republican acknowledged to House officials.

He wrote officials that $20,850 contributed in 2000 and 2001 was not reported anywhere. Another $17,300 was included in the defense fund's quarterly report but not in DeLay's 2000 annual financial disclosure report – a separate requirement. Other donations were understated as totaling $2,800, when the figure should have been $4,450.

It was during that period that DeLay was the subject of several House ethics investigations.

DeLay, R-Texas, stepped aside as House majority leader – at least temporarily – after he was indicted on a felony charge Sept. 28 in a Texas campaign fund-raising investigation. He has since been charged a second time in the same case.

On Oct. 13 DeLay wrote the clerk of the House, Jeff Trandahl, that his first inkling of inconsistencies in his disclosures came last February.

"I brought this matter – which I discovered on my own – to the attention of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to alert the chairman and ranking member," DeLay said in his letter.

"Upon learning of these accounting irregularities, I immediately requested that the trust undergo a full and complete audit from its June 2000 inception through 2004 to determine if any additional accountancy problems existed with the trust."

The audit confirmed the unreported donations and the other errors, DeLay said.

Last February? Eight months ago? That's when he learned he was hiding donations?

More trouble for DeLay, in-district version

SurveyUSA has another in their series of tracking polls. DeLay's grandstanding regarding his legal troubles is not helping: 42% of his constitutents want him to resign from Congress. A plurality (27%) would grade him an F.

From Political Wire.

To know him is to dislike him

From USA Today's national surveys dating back to 1999 when relatively few Americans knew Tom DeLay:

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Tom DeLay?

Favorable -- Unfavorable -- Never heard of -- No opinion

2005 Oct 21-23 20 -- 49 -- 17 -- 14
2005 Oct 13-16 18 -- 45 -- 20 -- 17
2005 Apr 29-May 1 27 -- 38 -- 22 -- 13
2005 Apr 1-2 27 -- 31 -- 26 -- 16
2005 Feb 4-6 29 -- 24 -- 24 -- 23
2003 Jul 25-27 33 -- 19 -- 34 -- 14
1999 Sep 10-14 17 -- 11 -- 54 -- 18

In a more far-reaching development, the poll also finds that corruption in government is the number one issue voters say they'll look at for determining who'll they'll vote for, even surpassing terrorism, Iraq, and the economy in intensity:

How important will each of the following issues be to your vote for Congress this November? (sorted by extremely important)

Extremely important -- Extremely/Very important

Corruption in government 45 -- 81
Terrorism 45 -- 77
The situation in Iraq 44 -- 81
The economy 43 -- 84
Health care 42 -- 79
Gas prices 41 -- 70
Social Security 38 -- 75
Taxes 35 -- 73

Oh! That's why he looked so good.

The Hill reports that indicted former Majority Leader Tom DeLay made a quick stop on his way to his corporate jet out of town last week - to his hairdresser.

Looks like the extra primping time paid off.

Last week on MSNBC, Keith Olbermann awarded DeLay’s smile the prize for the "best smile in a mug shot ever.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

There's no way...

...that any Judge in his right mind could remove Judge Robert Perkins from presiding over indicted former Majority Leader Tom DeLay's criminal trial. There's no way. What a dangerous precedent that would set!

But, nonetheless, DeLay's attorneys have made the request and Senior Judge C.W. "Bud" Duncan Jr. has set a hearing for Nov. 1 in Austin to hear DeLay's motion to remove Perkins from his case, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Here's what we know about Judge Duncan so far, thanks to R.G. Ratcliffe:

Duncan served as a district judge in Bell County from 1978-1988.

His party affiliation could not be immediately determined.

Duncan made statewide news in 1994 when he ordered a tattoo artist to give up his job because he was HIV-positive, even though the man's crime was unrelated to tattooing. The man accepted the tattooing ban as part of his probation to avoid prison.

UPDATE: The Hill reports that Judge Duncan was elected as a Democrat, and has given money to both Democratic and Republican candidates.

"The records show that Duncan made three contributions totaling $500 between 1995 and 2000 to Cornyn, who was elected to the Senate in 2002 after serving as Texas’s attorney general and a state Supreme Court justice," The Hill reports on Texans for Public Justice's findings.

"Duncan also gave $200 to Democratic state Rep. Bob Armstrong in 1998."

DeLay Ring Tone

Eric at Development Seed has posted on his blog a ring tone with the theme song from the television show COPS (AKA “Bad Boys” by Inner Circle) inter-spliced with news anchor reports of Tom DeLay's day in court. Go to check it out.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The ad DeLay's replacement doesn't want you to see

On Friday we launched a powerful new ad in Majority Leader Roy Blunt's Southwest Missouri district. The ad describes the similarities in the type of behavior that landed DeLay in court in Texas that day and the type of behavior DeLay and Blunt exhibited back in 2002 when Blunt used money from DeLay's PAC to support Blunt's son, Matt, who was running for statewide office. In short, using a variety of money transfers, DeLay and Blunt did indirectly what they could not do directly.

Watch the ad...

Blunt doesn't want this story told. His lawyers sent a letter (subscription req'd.) to the eight TV stations in his district demanding that they pull the ad. Four stations, KNSF, KODE, KOLR and KSFX, have stood up to the bullying and deserve praise. Four, KYTV, KSPR, KFJX and KOAM, have caved and are complicit in covering up Blunt's dirty laundry.

Roll Call reported this nugget from Blunt's legal defense:

"The ad in question falsely and maliciously accuses Congressman Roy Blunt of a felony," wrote Blunt’s lawyers, Stefan Passantino and J. Randolph Evans of the Washington, D.C., firm McKenna Long & Aldridge.

In refuting the ad’s allegations, Blunt’s lawyers employed an argument similar to that used by DeLay’s lawyers against the money-laundering charges he faces in Texas.

Just as DeLay’s lawyers argue that the lawmaker had no day-to-day control of the PAC he founded, Texans for a Republican Majority, Blunt’s defense contends that he serves only as "honorary chair" and has "no legal control over" the ROYB Fund or any money transfers the group made.


And then there were four

Roll Call reports that Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-OH) has decided to return campaign cash that he received from the indicted former Majority Leader. The Ohio Congressman has donated $13,000 to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

LaTourette has not commented publicly on the donation, but in a response to constituent/Democratic congressional candidate Palmer Peterson wrote:

"As a former prosecutor, I trust that the legal system will work and Tom DeLay, like every American, should have his day in court and should be afforded the presumption of innocence. However, in order to remove any questions that may arise about these contributions, I have made a donation in the same amount to the Bush-Clinton Katrina fund..."

LaTourette, along with Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo.) who also returned DeLay's ARMPAC contributions, was booted from the House Ethics Committee after DeLay's censure.

Friends in low places

Think Progress has this nugget from The Washington Post: turns out indicted former Majority Leader Tom DeLay took an R.J. Reynolds corporate jet to his arraignment in Houston on Friday. Reynolds is "a longtime contributor that has flown him to Puerto Rico and other destinations."

The Rest of the Picture...

The Hartford Courant's take on DeLay's smiley mug shot...

Friday, October 21, 2005

PCAF Launches Ads in Blunt's District

Today we are launching a new ad in Rep. Roy Blunt's Missouri district that links him to the money-laundering scandals of indicted former Majority Leader (I never get tired of writing that!) DeLay.

Here's what The Note had to say today:

"Timed to coincide with DeLay's courthouse appearance, Public Campaign Action Fund, a clean-money group, is attempting to tie Roy Blunt, the new House Majority Leader, to Tom DeLay, the recently indicted former House Majority Leader, with a 30-second television ad that accuses Blunt of improperly funneling money from DeLay to the campaign of Blunt's son and a company that hired DeLay's wife. David Donnelly, the group's director, is aiming to make the Blunt ad with its laundromat visuals part of a larger $100,000 ad campaign that will go after other Republican House members in their home districts. The ad will begin running in Springfield and Joplin, MO today and will run for one week."

Go see for yourself here.

On pins and needles

Not discouraged by yesterday's sneaky trip to a Harris County Police Station, the media has crowded outside of a Travis County Courthouse to await the indicted former Majority Leader's arrival, News 8 Austin is reporting.

DeLay is PAC Man

Through the first three quarters of the year, indicted former Majority Leader Tom DeLay led all House members in the amount of PAC money he took, according to this analysis (pdf) from the Federal Elections Commission. He raised $920,207 from PACs.

DeLay ranks second (to Rep. Robert Menendez, D-NJ, who wants to replace Sen. Jon Corzine if Corzine wins next months gubernatorial contest) in total raised (pdf). Since January 1st, he's apparently done more than just defend himself -- he raised $2,178,818, and average of $55,867 a week, or $7,981 a day.

Think he's thinking about you?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Why is this man smiling? (Parts 2, 3, 4, etc.)

So...across the board, the headlines for today's coverage of Tom DeLay's visit to a Harris County Sheriff's Department are asking: "Why is this man smiling?".

As I mentioned in my previous post, celebrities, whether they've been arrested for driving under the influence or solicitation, never fare as well as the indicted former Majority Leader did with his mug shot. (And these are people who have their pictures taken for a living.)

So, it begs the question, why is Tom DeLay smiling?

According to Laurie Kellman of the Associated Press, the answer is...drumroll please:

"A photo of DeLay grinning from ear to ear doesn't pack quite the punch in a Democratic attack ad as one that looks more like the mugshot of, say, actor Hugh Grant," Kellman writes.

"Note the House of Representatives security pin on DeLay's lapel. He looks in the photo like a proud member of Congress who might just have won the lottery, not one indicted on charges of money laundering. The photo looks like it could have been taken anywhere.

"And that was just the point."

Well, Congressman DeLay, our mothers always taught us that looks can be deceiving. Or looks aren't everything. Or something. It's late.

Photographed and Fingerprinted

R.G. Ratcliffe and Dale Lezon of The Houston Chronicle report on DeLay's sneaky trip to a Harris County Sheriff's Department, "dodging" reporters who'd been camped out a a Fort Bend Police Department since the arrest warrant was issued Wednesday.

"Now Ronnie Earle has the mugshot he wanted," [DeLay's lead attorney Dick] DeGuerin said.

Well, I have no idea what kind of mugshot Earle wanted, but I think everyone's a little surprised by the one we got. The man has never taken a better picture in his life. Celebrities get arrested all the time, and they never look that good in their mugshots. C''d this guy wind up looking fresh as a daisy?

(Sorry...I got off track...thanks for the fun diversion, Smoking Gun.)

The Chronicle goes on to report that DeLay's attorney asked for Judge Bob Perkins to be replaced and requested a change of venue, citing that Austin is "one of the last enclaves of the Democratic Party in Texas."

DeGuerin said that DeLay received no special treatment by being allowed to surrender in Harris County, and claimed it was because of the department's proximity to his Houston offices. Something tells me the issue was more the convenience of not having to face all those TV cameras over in Fort Bend...

"Fort Bend County Sheriff Milton Wright said DeGuerin had asked Wednesday if DeLay could come in and out of the sheriff's office unnoticed," Ratcliffe and Lezon write. "Wright said he told DeGuerin that even if DeLay could come in through a back door to avoid the media, 'he would have had to come out the front.'"

Q. Why is this man smiling?


A. So he'll look too good on T-Shirts.

That's got to be the best, or happiest, I've ever seen DeLay. Wow.

Update: Jury is out on whether we'll do T-Shirts. Probably not with that photo. We're not looking to start a Tom DeLay fan club, you know.

But something smells fishy to me. Is this the only mugshot? Did he turn himself into the Harris County Sheriff's office, or to Ft. Bend? Is there a profile shot of him too, or some identifying information cropped out of the photo?

The DeLay handlers must be pretty happy with this image, but let's review what this means:

1) It's a mug shot because he's been indicted for criminal conspiracy and money laundering, not a photo shoot at the local Sears portrait studio, and

2) With decision to do the booking today instead of at the same time as his appearance in court tomorrow, he's just made a one-day story a two-day story. Ooops.

AP: DeLay to be booked today in Ft Bend County

AP has the story:

Rep. Tom DeLay was ordered to appear for booking on state conspiracy and money laundering charges, and he could be fingerprinted and photographed as early as Thursday.

A state court issued the arrest warrant for DeLay on Wednesday and set an initial bail of $10,000, a routine step before the Texas Republican's first court appearance Friday in Austin.

In DeLay's home county, Fort Bend County Chief Deputy Craig Brady said arrangements were being made for DeLay to come in sometime Thursday for booking and fingerprinting.

NEW DELAY RANKINGS: Is your Rep. too close for comfort?

We've just updated The DeLay Rankings with the most recent FEC information. Check it out and see how close your representative in Congress is to indicted former Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Then come back here and let us know what you think by posting on the blog. Those of you in Alabama and Colorado should have plenty to say!

Here's the top 10 to whet your go find your Rep.

1. Bob Beauprez (CO-7)
1. Mike Rogers (AL-3)
1. Jim Ryun (KS-2)
4. Robin Hayes (NC-8)
5. Robert Alderholt (AL-4)
5. Henry Bonilla (TX-23)
7. Tom Tancredo (CO-6)
8. Jon Porter (NV-3)
8. Mark Green (WI-8)
10. Jim Gerlach (PA-6)

DeLay Mug Shot T-Shirt

We're taking pre-orders for t-shirts ($15) featuring Tom DeLay's mug shot, should one leak. We're not collecting money now, but sign up to reserve your first edition t-shirt, and we'll send you an email when we have a design.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Arrest Warrant

Update: Do you want to pre-order a t-shirt with DeLay's mug shot, if it leaks?

There it is, the arrest warrant for:


Above that is a section giving instructions to sherriffs:

To any sheriff or peace officer of the state of Texas, greetings, you are hereby commanded to arrest Thomas Dale DeLay and him safely keep so that you have him before the 331st Judicial District Court of Travis County.

Greetings. Yes, indeed.

(Maybe he just ought to resign? Save us all from this, ahem, misery.)

Headline of the Day

Texas Court Issues Arrest Warrant for DeLay

WalMart give $5,000 AFTER indictment

We noticed this a few days ago, and have been so busy with other stuff we didn't post. But here's a good blog entry on WalMart's "We don't care if he's indicted" $5,000 contribution... Maybe they get clothing from the Northern Marianas Islands.

The Big Buy's Pushback Op-Ed

The Austin American-Statesman runs an op-ed this morning by Mark Birnbaum and Jim Schermbeck, the filmmakers who followed Ronnie Earle for two years as he sought the truth about what happened with TRMPAC, DeLay, his associates and the 2002 election.The movie they produced, The Big Buy, was finished in August, but events in late September (a few indictments) conspired to encourage them to film a new ending. The film's existence, though, has set off a torrent of criticism, and publicity, that somehow it's evidence that Earle is using the DeLay indictments as a political tool to further his "agenda."

Here's what Birnbaum and Schermbeck say about that:

Since we began, control over the film's content has rested solely with us. Earle never saw even one foot of footage until after the film had premiered to good reviews at the Dallas Video Fesitval on Aug. 7. That's right — the film was finished more than a month before a Travis County grand jury indicted DeLay on a charge of violating state campaign laws.

"The Big Buy" is the same film it was before that event; the stakes are just higher now for all parties, including the American people. We want our work to speak for itself and let the public be the judge.

I, for one, am looking forward to seeing this movie -- I will post a review of it here when I do -- and forward to judging it for what it is, not the right wing's claims about it.

Birnbaum and Schermbeck want their work to view as an historical record, not any different from news coverage:

We've recorded the same Travis County district attorney whom every news organization covering this case has recorded. We just paid more attention for a longer time than most. That's what documentary filmmakers do. Those that consider Earle a villain and DeLay his victim will find things in our film to support their belief. Those who think DeLay is up to no good and Earle is the hero will likewise be supported in their views. We are equal-opportunity storytellers.

In short, we're basically doing the same job as the Statesman's own excellent reporter, Laylan Copelin. We're just doing it with a camera.

This is what puzzles us about our critics' reaction — access to Earle is OK when it's on behalf of readers or TV news viewers, but it's not OK when it's on behalf of viewers of a documentary?

What I think DeLay and his allies are so concerned about is this: The facts of this case are damning that when they are presented in a compelling manner it's all going to make perfect sense to average people that DeLay went too far.

The publicity around this movie is building. They've been invited to submit it to Sundance, a source tells me. Birnbaum and Schermbeck also are discussing a theatrical release -- something relatively unheard of for documentaries like this, unless you're Michael Moore.

And expect the publicity to continue to build for this film, even before the new version is done: Lawyers for Jim Ellis and John Colyandro have indicated they will subpoena all the footage. I think the makers of The Big Buy should gladly cooperate, including the footage of Ellis's and Colyandro's lawyer, who was taped for the film.

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?

Monday, October 17, 2005

News of the weird

In a bizarre publicity stunt, Delay attorney Dick DeGuerin sent a letter to prosecutor Ronnie Earle claiming that the prosecutor tried to get the indicted former Majority Leader to plead guilty to a misdemeanor so that he could retain his leadership post, the Associated Press reports.

"Before the first indictment you tried to coerce a guilty plea from Tom DeLay for a misdemeanor, stating the alternative was indictment for a felony which would require his stepping down as majority leader of the United States House of Representatives," DeGuerin wrote.

"He turned you down flat so you had him indicted, in spite of advice from others in your office that Tom DeLay had not committed any crime," the lawyer contended. "In short, neither lack of evidence nor lack of law has deterred you."


Smile for the camera

Indicted former Majority Leader Tom DeLay will be booked in a Texas County jail on Friday, despite efforts by his lawyers to avoid the process of being figerprinted and having his mug shot taken.

Judge Bob Perkins apparently believes that the same rules should apply to everyone.

"Perkins believes that if God was charged with a felony, he would have to go through the booking process, too," said D'Ann Underwood, court coordinator for the judge.

Some more details here.

Another Reporter Makes the Trek to DeLay's District

The Boston Globe's Rick Klein files a piece with a Richmond, Texas, byline today. Worth a read.

I agree with Ambassador Schechter:

''What goes around definitely does come around," said Arthur Schechter, a prominent Democratic fund-raiser from Houston who served as ambassador to the Bahamas during the Clinton administration. ''He's overreached so much, and the perception of that overreaching is so broad. He's vulnerable."

Sunday, October 16, 2005

DeLay Raised Roughly $1 Million in Third Quarter

The indicted former Majority Leader broke his own fundraising record last quarter, raising about $1 million, according to AP.

Can you say addicted to campaign money?

Here's one interesting source, given DeLay's oft-repeated invectives against lawyers:

Most of the money DeLay raised came from individuals. But he also gained heavy support from Winstead, Sechrest and Minick, a law firm headquartered in Dallas that gave a total of $125,650.

Any one have info on Winstead, Sechrest and Minick?

According to one report last week, DeLay is using the congressional committee to send out

derogatory information about the Texas prosecutor who led the investigation that resulted in indictments against DeLay charging conspiracy and money laundering.


Delay is also soliciting donations for his re-election.

"Help Tom fight back," reads one of the solicitations on the Web site.

We'll look into the filings some more to see if anything is intersting...

Update: A colleague sends this link along about Winstead. With that list, think they have any lobbying interests? Here's a blurb from their "government relations" practice:

Winstead has developed a sophisticated local, state, federal, and international government affairs practice that utilizes all of the firm’s offices. We view government affairs as the combination of strategic analysis and advocacy, supported by effective relations with local, state, and federal officials. Our attorneys are involved with governmental leaders in both the policy and campaign arenas.

"Our attorneys are involved with governmental leaders in both the policy and campaign arenas"?!?!? Translation: They give money during the campaign "arena" and collect paybacks in the policy-making "arena." Enough said.

Abramoff Helped eLottery Through DeLay's Office

An article in the Washington Post today outlining Abramoff's strategy and actions and how he used DeLay and his office to help defeat an internet gaming bill on behalf of his client eLottery.

Among the highlights:

"DeLay, an outspoken opponent of gambling, was an instrument, witting or unwitting, in eLottery's campaign, documents and interviews show. Along with Rudy, he was a guest on a golfing trip to Scotland. As majority whip, he cast a rare vote against his party on the Internet gambling bill and for the rest of the year helped keep the measure off the floor. He told leadership colleagues that another vote could cost Republican seats in the hard-fought 2000 elections."


"Abramoff got another strategy e-mail the next morning from Rudy. Rudy was on DeLay's staff but wrote 'we' as though he belonged to Abramoff's team. 'I think we should get weyrich to get like 10 groups to sign a letter to denny and armey on gaming bill,' Rudy wrote, referring to Free Congress Foundation Chairman Paul M. Weyrich and the House leaders.

"Sheldon got a private meeting with DeLay on July 13. 'I told him I strongly opposed the bill,' Sheldon told Congressional Quarterly at the time.

"A former DeLay staff member who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, 'Lou was a credible face' because Sheldon's religious credentials carried some weight with conservative voters.

"DeLay then told House Republican leaders that he was prepared to go against the anti-gambling bill."

Friday, October 14, 2005

Poll: 40% of DeLay's Constituents Want Him to Resign

This new survey from SurveyUSA has the goods:

40% of DeLay's constituents think he ought to step down from Congress.

It's what Public Campaign Action Fund has called on DeLay to do for months.

Looks like the spirited defense DeLay has put up is not working. In fact, it's hurting -- go to the SurveyUSA site and see the downward trend for DeLay.

The Fall of 2002

The Fall of 2002 must have been a busy time for Tom DeLay. Cruising to victory back home, DeLay was funnelling money to candidates around the country and around the state. He was at once trying to win Republican races through ARMPAC donations and expenditures in tight congressional contests, and to engineer a take-over of the Texas State Legislature. By all accounts, DeLay was successful.

He maintained a working majority in Congress, and did indeed see a triumph of the state GOP in his home state. The latter was the first phase in a scheme to pass a mid-decade redistricting plan, which eventually would net him five additional GOP colleagues in Congress in 2004.

The problem is, both efforts -- national and state -- pushed the envelope as to what is legally permitted, and quite possibly crossed the line.

That's why the subpoenas Ronnie Earle issued yesterday that cover phone records from September 1 to December 31, 2002 are so interesting in the context of yesterday's other news story -- the documents related to the FEC audits which show DeLay's ARMPAC spent $100,000 in corporate soft money to influence five congressional races.

My question is this: Will Earle surface any interesting evidence from DeLay's phone records regarding the use of corporate funds in these five federal races?

Another observation is that Jim Ellis is certainly in very hot water now, as the executive director in 2002 of TRMPAC, and as the then- and now-executive director of ARMPAC... He may be looking at a federal investigation, too...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Five races where ARMPAC spent soft money as hard, allegedly lists the following five races where DeLay's ARMPAC spent money out of its soft money account to influence congressional races:

FL-05, IN-02, IN-07, KS-02, and IA-05

For those of you keeping score at home, that's:

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (FL-05), first elected in 2002. Recipient of $20,000 from ARMPAC and $1,000 donor to DeLay's legal defense. Currently ranks 44th on DeLay Rankings.

Rep. Chris Chocola (IN-02), first elected in 2002. Recipient of $40,000 from ARMPAC and $2,500 donor to DeLay's legal defense. Currently ranks 21st on the DeLay Rankings.

Brose McVey (IN-07), a candidate in 2002, lost to Rep. Julia Carson 53% to 44%.

Rep. Jim Ryun (KS-02), first elected in 1996, recipient of $31,777 from ARMPAC and $1,000 donor to DeLay's legal defense. Currently ranks 3rd on the DeLay Rankings.

Rep. Steve King (IA-05), first elected in 2002, recipient of $15,000 from ARMPAC and $1,000 donor to DeLay's legal defense. Currently ranks 30th on the DeLay Rankings.

We're updating our DeLay Rankings, so these rankings may change.

Buy American?

There's more. Travis County Prosecutor Ronnie Earle has issued a third party subpeona for the records for DeLay's purchase or lease of a 2004 Toyota Sienna.

The attorney for the state has asked the Custodian of Records of Toyota Motor Credit Corp. to produce "purchase agreements, applications, receipts, check copies, trade-in information, down payment information, and all documents relating to issuance of credit by the lien holder."

Hhmm. Interesting.

Explosive news...

AP has more explosive news to report -- DeLay's ARMPAC used corporate soft dollars to influence House races, including Indiana Congressman Chris Chocola's. Here's the lede:

Tom DeLay's political group used nearly $100,000 in corporate and unlimited donations to mail last-minute political appeals praising five congressional candidates despite rules meant to keep such money out of federal races, documents released Thursday show.

A few months back, the FEC audited DeLay's PACs records and came up with more than $200,000 of irregularities. I speculated at the time it was likely that DeLay's PAC used corporate soft dollars as hard money to influence races and that there was more to come on this matter. The documents obtained by confirm this.

That means Chocola may owe his close election in 2002 to illegal spending.

We'll stay on top of this one as it develops.

You knew this was coming...

From AP:

Prosecutor subpoenas DeLay's phone records

WASHINGTON-- A Texas prosecutor subpoenaed telephone records for the home phone of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and his political campaign Thursday.

Also subpoenaed were phone records for two numbers for his daughter, Dani DeLay Ferro.

DeLay was indicted last week on charges of money laundering and conspiracy in a Texas campaign finance case.

The subpoenas list telephone numbers, but not whom they belong to. They ask for information about the calls, voice mail service at the numbers and long distance calls made from or charged to the numbers.

"The thing is no big deal," said Bill White, Austin attorney for DeLay.

*Ring* Is Your Refrigerator Running?

OK, so those aren't really the kind of anonymous calls that Samantha Levine writes up in today's Houston Chronicle, but an unknown group called "We The People" is making calls to voters in Republican congressional districts across the country.

The calls, which began shortly after DeLay's indictments, ask voters to call their representatives and demand that they return the indicted former Majority Leader's campaign cash. Neither Republican nor Democratic party officials can identify who is responsible for the calls. The source has been difficult to trace because they use a controversial new technology called "caller-id spoofing," Levine reports.

"According to the conservative National Review Online, residents of 37 districts in 14 states — none in Texas — have received the calls, though a far larger number of lawmakers have received donations from ARMPAC."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Special Interest Group Attempting to Taint DeLay Jury Pool

Public Campaign Action Fund Calls on Free Enterprise Fund to Pull Ads Immediately

Washington, DC – Public Campaign Action Fund, a non-partisan watchdog group, today called on the Free Enterprise Fund to immediately stop running television ads that amount to jury tampering.

The ads, which personally attack Travis County Prosecutor Ronnie Earle for recent grand jury indictments of former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay, will be run on Fox News Channel nationally, with increased saturation in the Austin media market. It is from this area where DeLay’s jury will be selected.

David Donnelly, National Campaigns Director for Public Campaign Action Fund, said the ads are nothing more than an attempt to taint the Travis County jury pool.

“The real scandal of these sensational ads is the efforts of the Free Enterprise Fund to tamper with indicted former Majority Leader DeLay’s trial by a jury of his peers,” Donnelly said. “DeLay and the Free Enterprise Fund are peas in a pod: they’re both willing to spend big money from wealthy special interests to further their own agenda.”

Public Campaign Action Fund is a national, nonpartisan watchdog organization that has led the charge for greater accountability among House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and other corrupt members of Congress, and works to advance comprehensive campaign finance reform.

Very, very bad boys

Fiore focuses on Republican corruption, cronyism, and greed.

Green Will "Likely Return" Recent DeLay Cash

Mark Green (R-WI), under intense sustained pressure from his constituents, has said he will "likely return" recent contributions from indicted former Majority Leader Tom DeLay's ARMPAC -- IF -- DeLay is convicted of a "serious crime."

But, The Wisconsin State Journal reports, "the amount in question would be $2,000, aide Mark Graul said last week, not the nearly $30,000 Green has received from DeLay over the course of his career."

Democratic Party Chairman Joe Wineke has urged Green to return DeLay's campaign cash.

"I just don't understand why anybody would want to be tied to this guy," Wineke said.

Good question. As pressure mounts on other members to distance themselves from DeLay, I have a feeling we'll be seeing more stories like this.

DeLay still wielding power

The New York Times' Carl Hulse has a good analysis of DeLay's political capital under this headline:

Last week, on an energy bill vote, it appeared that the DeLay and the Republicans lost 212 to 210, but then the Republican leadership in the House held the voting open for an extra 45 to 50 minutes to get a handful of members to switch their votes. Among those switching votes was Rep. Jim Gerlach, who ranks as the fifth closest member to DeLay on our DeLay Rankings. (We ran this ad in Gerlach's district earlier this year.)

Here's how Hulse describes the GOP dilemma:

Though he has the political muscle and inside knowledge to maneuver difficult legislation in a dicey political climate, he is also is operating under the liability of the criminal charges. Some Republicans acknowledge that their work could be tainted by any perception that Mr. DeLay commands the House from the sidelines while awaiting a resolution of the charges.

"DeLay is driving the agenda," said one senior Republican lawmaker who did not want to be identified because of the sensitivity of talking about internal party matters. "I guess he has to be because he is the only guy who can get this done. But once people find out he is still in charge, that brings its own set of issues."

It's one thing to have DeLay twisting arms and continuing to set the agenda in the House... but how many Republicans would like to have DeLay headline a fundraiser back home right now?

DeLay Desperation

I'm still scratching my head about this move of DeLay's to try to subpoena Earle and members of the grand jury. Is it all just for the media coverage? It certainly doesn't look like a good legal move, or even a sound one.

Here's more from today's Houston Chronicle:

The subpoenas ask for all documents, notes, telephone records and other relevant materials related to contact involving Earle and two of his assistants with the grand juries. Two of the three grand juries returned indictments against DeLay, and the third issued a no-bill.

Defense attorney Dick DeGuerin told the Associated Press that Earle refused the subpoena delivered to his office on Tuesday, when he declined to sign a paper acknowledging its delivery. Earle countered that he voluntarily accepted it.

DeGuerin said he would redeliver subpoenas Wednesday. Earle responded that redelivery wasn't necessary.

"It was not a properly prepared subpoena, but we accepted service voluntarily anyway,'' the prosecutor said. He refused to say whether he would file a motion to have his subpoena dismissed.


DeLay wants a dismissal of the indictments based on prosecutorial misconduct. In motions filed Friday, he accused Earle of trying to "browbeat and coerce" the grand jurors who refused to indict DeLay.

The motion also accuses Earle of violating grand jury secrecy laws by urging the foreman of the grand jury that first indicted DeLay to speak publicly about an indictment.

"Because of laws protecting grand jury secrecy, there are limitations to what we can say at this time, but we fully expect to prevail in this matter," Earle said in a statement.

Here's what one criminal defense lawyer said:

Keith Hampton, a lobbyist with the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, said that a defense attorney is entitled to get testimony of a witness who appeared before a grand jury to use in examining that same witness at a trial.

"But the communications between prosecutors and grand jurors are not subject to a subpoena," said Hampton.

Hampton said that the Legislature has repeatedly rejected bills that would allow inroads into grand jury secrecy.

I guess that DeLay should have required candidates sign a pledge on these bills to open grand juries before TRMPAC helped elect those GOP legislators back in 2002, huh?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

DeLay's defense made allegations of prosecutorial misconduct before the alleged misconduct

The big news tonight is the allegations of prosecutorial misconduct DeLay's lawyers have levied at District Attorney Ronnie Earle and their efforts to subpoena Earle regarding these allegations. The defense lawyers say Earle mistreated jurors who didn't indict DeLay (the infamous second grand jury).

But it appears that DeLay's lawyers were claiming prosecutorial misconduct and preparing to bring charges on it before Earle even went to the second grand jury, according to this Roll Call (subscription) story from the day of the first indictment, which was sent to me by a loyal Daily DeLay reader:

Republicans also wasted little time in beginning their own campaign to discredit Earle.

DeLay’s allies privately suggested that they would seek retribution against Earle, although DeLay himself will have no role in that effort. Charges of prosecutorial misconduct may be lodged against Earle, and a public-relations effort to discredit Earle personally had already begun on Wednesday, with GOP insiders repeatedly pointing out that Earle unsuccessfully attempted to prosecute Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) in the midst of the 1994 Senate race in Texas.

“Everything will be in play,” said one high-ranking House Republican aide. “We will throw everything we can at Ronnie Earle.”

The reader also notes there is no need to seek the under oath testimony of Earle or the two anonymous jurors of the second grand jury who claim Earle got upset with them:

Grand jury proceedings are transcribed by court reporters. The judge considering Dick DeGuerin's motion and subpoena will be quite capable of finding out what went on in the grand jury room with out Ronnie Earle's testimony. The subpoena will be quashed, the motion to dismiss will be denied and that's it for Tom DeLay. He doesn't care about going to prison; he only cares about being Majority Leader and he's staked everything on this motion to dismiss. If the motion fails and he gets a trail date in February 2006, he knows he'll never be back as Majority Leader.

Like I said below, high stakes.

DeLay's Lawyer Tries to Subpoena Earle


Lawyers for indicted Rep. Tom DeLay on Tuesday subpoenaed the prosecuting Texas district attorney in an effort to show he acted improperly with grand jurors.

The subpoena for Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, filed in Austin, asked that the prosecutor and two of his assistants appear in court to explain their conduct.

It's high stakes. Can't imagine a judge looking at this without a skeptical eye. I've never heard of this. Anyone?

"Trouble is Here"

The Campaign for America's Future put out a list of the 26 house members who have received $10,000 contributions from indicted former Republican Majoirty Leader Tom DeLay's ARMPAC since Jan. 2005.

“Looks like Rep. DeLay was trying to buy some insurance in case trouble came down the pike," said Deputy Director Ellen Miller. "Trouble is here."

Check out the list and see if your reprentative's on it.

DeLay's Media Megaphone

The AP reports that indicted former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay is "[s]etting aside his own aversion to the media" as he tries to defend himself in the court of public opinion, the Associated Press reports.

Since his first indictment on Sept. 28, DeLay has made more than 20 appearances on radio and television shows. Kathleen Jamieson, of the Annenberg Center at the University of Pennsylvania, says that DeLay has adopted the standard public relations strategy of defending himself and attempting to shore up his base.

It is becoming obvious from comments by many of his fellow members that his base is wavering. A problem that Jamieson says helps to explain DeLay's press strategy.

"Historically, when people on your side decide you need to go, you go," Jamieson said. "At that point, you can't argue you are innocent."

DeLay's media machine kicked into a similar gear last year after his admonishment by the House Ethics Committee, Suzanne Gamboa reports.

"DeLay, fellow Republican lawmakers and his supporters claimed victory, saying the committee exonerated him, even though the committee actually admonished DeLay and warned him in a letter to 'temper your future actions,'" she concludes.

Monday, October 10, 2005

DeLay Teaches Blunt

John B. Judis at The New Republic has a good piece on just how much Roy Blunt learned from Tom DeLay about money and politics:

"[Blunt]" owes his rise in the House to the Texas congressman. But he may also one day blame DeLay for his fall, because DeLay appears to have taught him not only how to count votes and woo lobbyists, but arguably how to play fast and loose with campaign finance ethics....

In 1999, Blunt set up Rely on Your Beliefs, a leadership PAC that had a "non-federal" component governed by Missouri law. The McCain-Feingold campaign finance law has since made it illegal for federal officials to raise money for such PACs. Judis writes how Blunt's PAC operated in a routine fashion until 2000, when suddenly its activities bore the imprint Tom DeLay:
But the PAC's activities from January through June 2000 raise all kinds of questions. During that time, Blunt's PAC raised $190,025. This included $150,000 from the fund that DeLay's PAC, ARMPAC, had set up to stage events at the 2000 Republican convention. (Blunt also raised 3,000 from the Concorde Garment Manufacturing Co. of the Northern Mariana Islands, one of the firms that lobbyist Jack Abramoff was trying to protect from American labor laws.) So, including the money it already had on hand from the previous period and accrued interest, the PAC had $252,788.43 to spend.

Of that amount, it spent only $126,000 on candidate or party contributions. Much of the money went to the Byzantine network of lobbying and political consulting firms hat DeLay had established with his former aides Ed Buckham and Jim Ellis. (Buckham has since become known for his ties with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and Ellis for being indicted in Austin along with DeLay and another associate.) Blunt's non-federal PAC paid $70,000 to Alexander Strategy Group, which Buckham set up in 1998 with a huge initial lobbying contract that DeLay secured from Enron. DeLay's wife, Christine, also worked for the Alexander Strategy Group and for ARMPAC, which was run by Ellis.

But the connections don't end there. Alexander Strategy and ARMPAC operated out of a Washington, D.C. townhouse that the U.S. Family Network, another DeLay-Buckham-Ellis operation, had purchased. In the first quarter of 2000, Blunt's non-federal PAC paid rent to the U.S. Family Network. In the second quarter, it paid rent to Ellis's consulting firm. Blunt's PAC also contributed $10,000 to the DeLay foundation.

From July 1, 1999 to July 1, 2000, Blunt's PAC gave $83,454.03 to DeLay-linked causes and consultants. That raises the question of whether ARMPAC was using Blunt's PAC to recycle contributions to DeLay's family and his political network. That may not be against the law; but I would argue that it's not exactly ethical either.

Judis notes that Blunt's PAC used DeLay-style tactics to benefit his his son, Matt, who was running for secretary of state, contributing to MO Republican party organizations that then contributed to the campaign.

But ethics rules aside, the records at the very least show that soon after Blunt became DeLay's chief deputy whip, DeLay initiated him into the practice of funneling contributions from one PAC to another. Perhaps fat cats and lobbyists don't care what happens to their money, but some contributors to DeLay's ARMPAC convention fund, who thought they were paying for events at the 2000 Republican convention, may not have wanted to fund Blunt's non-federal PAC. And they may not have wanted Blunt's PAC, in turn, to contribute to the Alexander Group, which employed DeLay's wife, or to help Blunt's son win election as secretary of state...

Voters have a right to know these kinds of details. But Blunt and DeLay's machinations denied them this information. Were their actions legal? As far as I know, yes. Were they ethical? Not even close.

Well said.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Chat away

Peter Perl of the Washington Post is doing a live chat at -- go read and submit questions.

From a reader...

Sounds like the indicted former Majority Leader Tom DeLay and his attorneys have got to figure out a strategy, and soon. A Daily DeLay reader writes,

No half-way intelligent jury is going buy Delay's multiple-coincidence, "I'm just the piano player in the whorehouse" argument when Earle has documentary evidence of DeLay's day-to-day involvement in TRMPAC fundraising. And an Austin jury, where the jury pool has the highest percentage of college graduates of any jurisdiction in Texas? He's toast. I'd bet [DeLay's lawyer] DeGuerin is arguing strenuously to move for a change in venue and DeLay is saying no because he wants a quick trial. Let's hope DeLay wins that battle. DeLay is now our biggest ally in convicting DeLay. Just keep talking to the press, Tom, just keep talking.

DeLay's wild claims

The indicted former Majority Leader is making wild claims -- first about money that Ronnie Earle has received, and then about how groups like CREW and us, Public Campaign Action Fund, are coordinating.

And of course, we find this in the Washington Times. For the record, the accusations that Earle raised corporate contributions are baseless. Earle received contributions from partnerships, not corporations.

And here's what DeLay had to say about outside groups and the Democratic Party coordinating:

Mr. DeLay said he is convinced that Mr. Earle has coordinated with national Democratic officials, and said the same thing happened with outside groups when a Democratic member of Congress brought ethics charges against him last year.

"It was all set up with [Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington] -- they're out there doing the media stuff, paying for ads," he said. "One ad would start, stop at the end of the week, a new ad from another organization would start up -- my, isn't that a coincidence? That would go on for weeks."

He said he does not know whether Mr. Earle is taking orders from Washington, but said the entire situation is collaboration.

"If you step back and look at his operation for three years on this particular issue, talking to the press, of course he's talked to the Democratic leadership. I don't know who. But he's a political animal; he's not a district attorney," he said.

Now, I don't know everything CREW does, but I don't think they ran ads. We did, though. Yes, Mr. Indicted former Majority Leader, we ran ads, as did our Campaign Money Watch project last year. But I have to say, coordinating with other like-minded public interest organizations is often like herding cats. It's not illegal, but it's harder than it looks. Coordinating with political parties can be illegal for some entities. That's why, using "an abundance of caution" as someone recently said, we at Public Campaign Action Fund have drawn a bright line -- no coordination at all with party committees or candidates. We don't cross that line.

Given the gray areas in campaign finance law and regulation, we stay away from any activities that are not absolutely defensible.

I bet your wish your lawyers, Mr. DeLay, had advised you to do the same thing. You're the only one with an October 21 court date.

UPDATE: A reader sent along this:

The Texas Election Code's prohibition on corporate contributions only applies to corporations organized under the Texas Business Corporation Act and the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act. Tex. Elec. Code Section 253.091:

"If a law firm is incorporated in Texas as a professional corporation under the Texas Professional Corporations Act or the Texas Limited Liability Corporations Act, it is not subject to the prohibition on corporate contributions."

See page 24. (pdf)

What did it buy?

Just been thinking...

We're all focused on the $190,000 laundered by DeLay, his associates, TRMPAC and the RNC, and the elections it bought, and the redistricting it led to, and the five additional GOP seats to help DeLay increase his power... Ronnie Earle has indicted the fundraisers and the corporate donors for breaking laws and undermining the democratic electoral process.

But what about the favors these corporate contributors received from the Texas Legislature?

The scandal here is not just what is illegal and indictable. Just as scandalous is the influence-peddling that these donors and politicians engaged in, which is something that happens everyday in Washington and in state capitals and city halls around the country -- except where these laws have been passed.


Sure, that's great.

At the center of the case against the indicted Tom DeLay and his indicted PAC director, Jim Ellis, is a October 2, 2002 meeting in DeLay's Capitol office.

The Washington Post's Jeff Smith and the Houston Chronicle's RG Ratcliffe move this story ahead today.

The timeline is pretty simple:

September 13: Ellis, as executive director of TRMPAC, sends a $190,000 check from corporate donations to the RNC.
October 2: Ellis and DeLay meet.
October 4: RNC sends checks totaling $190,000 to seven Texas candidates.

So what happened at that meeting?

Ratcliffe writes:

TRMPAC sent the check on Sept. 13, 2002. DeLay met with Ellis in Washington on Oct. 2, 2002.

But DeLay and his lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, have changed their stories this week about what DeLay knew about the money and when.

DeLay told talk show host Rush Limbaugh that in August, he mistakenly told prosecutors he knew about the TRMPAC check before it was sent to the Republican National Committee. He said Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle would not allow him to change his statement.

"I misspoke one sentence — one sentence — and they have based all of this on one sentence," DeLay said during a radio interview with Limbaugh on Tuesday. "They think that before the (TRMPAC) check was cut and sent to the national committee that I approved this check. I didn't know this went on until well after it happened."

On the same day, DeGuerin told the Houston Chronicle that DeLay likely found out about the check at an 10:15 a.m. Oct. 2, 2002, meeting with Ellis. DeGuerin said what DeLay learned was informational and did not put him into a decision-making process.

"The bottom line is DeLay didn't have any decision to make, and he didn't make any decision. He might have been informed about it, but it was kind of as, 'Hey, I got this done,' and he might have said, 'Sure, that's great,' " DeGuerin said.

But on Thursday, DeGuerin told the Chronicle that Ellis and DeLay did not talk about the TRMPAC donation to the RNC during that meeting. He said DeLay remembers Ellis telling him about it at a later meeting. DeGuerin said he clarified what happened after talking to DeLay and Ellis' lawyer.

It is not credible that DeLay would have:

a) shown no interest in how much money he was putting into which races;
b) not wanted to know when $190,000 of money he helped to raise was being moved around; and
c) not discussed TRMPAC during a half hour meeting with TRMPAC's director.

(And what about doing political business out of his Capitol office? Update: Apparently there's only a narrow prohibition about soliciting funds on federal property.)

What it boils down to is this, in Smith's words, is this:

To prove that DeLay participated in money laundering or in a conspiracy to conduct it -- the two allegations in the felony indictment brought against DeLay on Monday morning -- Earle will have to prove two things, according to lawyers who are closely following the case: The transactions involving the $190,000 were illegal, and DeLay played some critical role, by approving them or by helping to carry them out.

So put yourself in Ellis's shoes. You tell your boss your sending $190,000 to one place and they'll send it to the people you've chosen to get it. If you're Ellis, you have to know you're crossing the line. So you check in with your boss about it. What does your boss say? According to your boss's lawyer, he says, "Sure, that's great."

Sounds like just the approval Ellis needed.

If the evidence shows that DeLay was told by Ellis about these transactions before they happened, DeLay is guilty.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Holding on to the money

A number of recipients of the indicted former Majority Leader's ARMPAC contributions are refusing to give back money.

Meghan wrote about Reps. Jean Schmidt and Geoff Davis. And there's Rep. Denny Rehberg of Montana. And the South Carolina GOP delegation. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's decision is a matter of scrutiny. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota will keep it. And so on. (Feel free to post more articles about this in the comments.)

Most of these members of Congress received $5,000, $10,000, or maybe $25,000 or so from ARMPAC. Not huge amounts for, say, Sen. Thune, who raised $16.25 million in his 2004 race for Senate, and has already brought in $1.5 million since then. Are members willing to take the heat just out of loyalty to a member of Congress who might not be around much longer?

If it's not about the money, is it fear of DeLay? or the conservative base which has rallied around him?

My hunch is that no one wants to begin the stampede in earnest. Reps. Bradley (R-NH), Wilson (R-NM), and Hulshof (R-MO) have already moved to get rid of the tainted money. Two of these, though, are in competitive seats in 2006. Loyalists or turncoats, some GOP members are gonna have to make some tough decisions about whether standing by DeLay gets them more campaign cash and ground troops in order to overcome the negative of holding on to a few thousand dollars.

UPDATE: A reader forwarded to me a link to a letter to the editor from Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) responding to a Post-Dispatch editorial as another example...

Local paper in DeLay's district blames... DeLay

From The Facts, a Brazoria County-based newspaper, in a signed editorial from Michael Morris, assistant managing editor:

In the quick defense of freshly indicted Rep. Tom DeLay by Republican talking heads on the conservative talk-show circuit last week, more than one revived the long-employed question: Where does DeLay get his reputation back when he is cleared?

As people who have had a front-row seat to DeLay’s political career, much of it spent representing portions of Brazoria County, the answer to that question is rather obvious: His indictment only serves to substantiate a reputation he has spent more than two decades building, that of someone who sees no ethical boundaries in his pursuit of individual and party power.

We have made no secret through the years of our distaste for DeLay’s brand of politics. His bullying of opponents, influence-peddling and badgering of lobbyists to fulfill the Republican agenda has brought him repeated rebukes by the House ethics committee, including three findings by that panel last year alone.

As in the past when an ethical cloud formed over him, DeLay last week pointed his finger at politics as the reason he was indicted by a Travis County grand jury on a charge of conspiracy to launder money to circumvent Texas’ law against corporate contributions. He did so again Monday night when he was re-indicted by a new grand jury on a money laundering charge.

Unfortunately for DeLay and his defenders, politics are not at the center of the charges. It is DeLay’s conduct.

Keep reading...

Hastings: "Ethics Panel Won't Investigate DeLay"

Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), chair of the stalled House Ethics Committee, has said that the committee will "not investigate a 15-month-old complaint about DeLay's role in alleged illegal campaign contributions in Texas" because such an investigation would duplicate Earle's work.

"We don't have the resources," he told the Yakima Herald Republic.

The next day, his spokeswoman was backpeddling. She told The Seattle Times that "the congressman wasn't ruling out an investigation after the criminal case."

Hastings went on to defend the former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, echoing the indicted Congressman's assertions that the charges are a "political vendetta."

Mind you, this is the man who is supposed to investigate DeLay's alleged improprieties.

"It's outrageous for the chairman of the ethics committee to virtually endorse the idea that the indictment is a political vendetta. It's a matter that is before the committee," said Norman Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.

The committee has not met since it stalled over staffing issues in May. Alicia Mundy reports that the panel will not have staff in place for another month.

Just a reminder, looking back at our DeLay Rankings, you'll see that Hastings has received nearly $6,000 from DeLay's ARMPAC.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

More like "laundering"

AP does its work. Hats off to Sharon Theimer and John Solomon for this gem of investigative reporting, though the description below of a financial carousel makes it sound too innocent. It was laundering:

DeLay, Blunt Swapped Donations

WASHINGTON - Tom DeLay deliberately raised more money than he needed to throw parties at the 2000 presidential convention, then diverted some of the excess to longtime ally Roy Blunt through a series of donations that benefited both men's causes.

When the financial carousel stopped, DeLay's private charity, the consulting firm that employed DeLay's wife and the Missouri campaign of Blunt's son all ended up with money, according to campaign documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

You have to read it to believe it. They also put together a timeline, which makes sense as a guide to the piece, but not on its own. Read them together.

What do you think?

Looking ahead

From a Daily DeLay reader:

It appears that the new indictment of Rep. DeLay on the much more serious charge of money laundering was based on new information that was provided to the Travis County District Attorney over the weekend.

I think that, if there is a cooperating witness, it is most likely one of the indicted corporations. Sears, for example, wasn't very pleased to be named in the first DeLay indictment.

Looking ahead, all of the judges on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals are elected Republicans. How many of them were first elected to the bench with the assistance of Karl Rove's political consulting firm?

I think that's a question for Texans for Public Justice or or other ensterprising researchers in Texas to answer.

DeLay: I misspoke.

Today's New York Times story by Carl Hulse focuses primarily on DeLay's expiration date as the once and future (in his mind) Majority Leader. Hulse quotes Amy Walter (go Mules!) saying that DeLay will face trouble regaining his Majority Leader post unless he has a speedy dismissal in Texas, which doesn't look likely:

"It is one thing if it is three weeks," said Amy Walter, a nonpartisan analyst of House politics for The Cook Political Report. "Three months, that is another story."

But Hulse notes that the grand jury indictments in Texas is not the only thing DeLay has to be concerned about:

Even his detractors concede that Mr. DeLay has amassed strong loyalty in the party and retains the support of a majority of House Republicans. But all bets are off if he runs into trouble with either the Justice Department, which is investigating Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist with close ties to Mr. DeLay, or with the House ethics committee.

That's why DeLay and his attorneys are swinging for the fences to clear this one out first:

He hinted that he and his legal team were preparing to seek "remedies and appeals to higher levels" against Mr. Earle.

Further on in the piece Hulse has DeLay's comments from Rush Limbaugh's radio show saying that he misspoke when he met with District Attorney Ronnie Earle, and that that mistake is the basis for the indictments. Why DeLay is so voluble about his own troubles is beyond me.

In his radio comments on Tuesday, Mr. DeLay offered a new insight on the case, saying he made a mistake in a voluntary interview with the prosecutor's office a few weeks ago that helped prompt the indictments.

He would not discuss his mistake in detail, but it apparently concerned the $190,000 check that is central to the case. Mr. Earle charges that the money, which included money from corporate interests in Texas, was turned over to the Republican National Committee with instructions to return $190,000 to designated candidates for the Texas Legislature. The accusation is that the transaction was intended to circumvent a prohibition on the use of corporate money in state races.

"I misspoke one sentence, and they have based all of this on one sentence," Mr. DeLay told Mr. Limbaugh. "They think that before the check was cut and sent to the national committee that I approved this check. I didn't know this went on until well after it happened."

That's his defense?!?! "I misspoke one sentence.... They think that before the check was cut and sent to the national committee that I approved this check." It's been noted that DeLay wasn't testifying under oath -- his lawyers wouldn't allow it. But surely, he knew he wasn't chatting on the golf course. He was sitting down across the table from prosecutors who were investigating him and his committee.

File under "Oooops."

DeLay Detritus: Wednesday News Round-up

Travis County D.A. Ronnie Earle told the Houston Chronicle that new information obtained over the weekend led to the most recent indictments against former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Dick DeGuerin, DeLay's attorney, called Earle's statement "crazy," and accused the prosecutor of offering "a sweet deal" to DeLay's co-defendants to get them to testify against his client.

According to Leylan Copelin at the Austin-American Statesman, one of DeLay's biggest challenges will be making Americans understand the "monied ways of Washington's K Street."

"Focus groups of potential jurors in a related civil trial in the spring expressed serious doubts about the $190,000 transaction at the heart of the felony indictments, according to a source familiar with the litigation," Copelin writes today. "Though the average person on the street may question what DeLay's defenders say is routine business among political professionals, DeLay insists he couldn't have conspired to launder corporate money into campaign donations because he knew nothing about the transaction until after it had occurred."

Jury Foreman William Gibson has said repeatedly and publicly this week that he doesn't buy DeLay's story, and reasserts that the indictment is not politically motivated.

"We weren't looking at the big man in Washington," Gibson said. "We were looking at him as a Texan. All we were looking at was a resident of Texas violating the Texas law."

DeLay has frequently repeated the defense that "cash swaps" are a regualr practice in politics. Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, said the swaps "typically involved state and national political parties — not individual political committees."

He said that while the FEC considers such swaps legal, federal law prohibits "earmarking" money to a political committee with instructions that it go to a specific candidate.

"It was considered illegal at the federal level if it happened with instructions to give it to a specific candidate," Noble said.

Will a jury understand and accept the ins-and-outs of Washington money-moving?

Noble doesn't think so.

"The political culture has gotten out of touch with reality," he said.

I posted yesterday on the trend of GOP lawmakers returning DeLay's dirty money. Today, the Cincinnati Post has a story on groups urging members of Congress to return any and all contributions from DeLay's ARMPAC.

Newly-elected Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) has been targeted with calls from constituents demanding that she return campaign contributions from DeLay. Her spokesperson Jessica Towhey said: "Congressman DeLay is going to come out fine. We fully expect him to return to his leadership position."

I wouldn't hold your breath, Jessica.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Am I sensing a trend here?

Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-MO) has announced that he will not keep the $14,500 he has received from indicted former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's ARMPAC in his campaign coffers.

"The Missouri Republican also will not support DeLay's return to a leadership role, even if he is acquitted of all charges, spokesman Scott Baker said Monday," reports the Associated Press.

"'He feels it's better to disassociate himself with the situation and not let it become a distraction,' Baker said."

Hulshof, who will donate the money to Katrina relief efforts, is the third member of Congress to voluntarily return DeLay's PAC money. Just a day after the indictment, New Hampshire Rep. Jeb Bradley returned $15,000. Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) will return $10,000 in ARMPAC contributions to her 2006 campaign account.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Bloomberg news has two indictments

There's going to be some confusion before all is said and done, but Jonathan Salant and Darrell Preston from Bloomberg report that the grand jury in Travis County has issued two new indictments:

DeLay, 58, who faces up to two years in prison on a conspiracy charge filed last week, was indicted on two counts of money laundering today, said a spokesman for Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle.

We'll have to wait for a little bit to get the straight story on this... One of these indictments may be a "clean up job" from the one issued last week. But what's the other? Since there are two indictments, the DeLay people did a good job spinning the Statesman, which lead with the problems with last week's grand jury indictment.

BREAKING NEWS: New DeLay Indictment

ABC News is reporting that a Texas Grand Jury has indicted former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on a new charge of money laundering. Stay tuned for more.

UPDATE: Per The Austin American-Statesman - the new indictment is to correct a problem with last week's indictment.

"The problem with that indictment, according to DeLay's lawyers, was that the conspiracy law did not apply to the election code in 2002," Copelin writes. "The Texas Legislature changed the law, which went into effect Sept. 1, 2003.

Laylan Copelin does a better job explaining it than I ever could. Read the whole thing here.

UPDATE 2 (from David): Interesting difference between AP reporting and Statesman reporting. We'll see how this shakes out in the press -- does it play as a second indictment or fixing a problem?

Harriett Miers/Tom DeLay Connection

Our friends over at Public Citizen have been looking into the details of who has contributed to former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's sizable legal defense fund.

"Under House rule XXV (5)(c)(3), registered lobbyists are prohibited from making contributions to a member’s legal defense fund," the release states.

The fund also received donations totaling $4,500 in 2001 from Locke Liddell & Sapp -- the Texas firm that brand-new Supreme Court nominee Harriett Miers was a managing partner of. At the time, it was a registered lobbying firm.

Top Ten Reasons Why DeLay is No Moby Dick

Sunday's New York Times reported that our own David Donnelly is "[p]erhaps the most famously zealous Ahab in pursuit of Mr. DeLay's resignation." As a co-worker of David's, I can vouch for the fact that David may resemble Ahab in his "firmest fortitude, a determinate, unsurrenderable wilfulness, in the fixed and fearless, forward dedication of [his] glance." But there the similarity ends--after all, David still has both his legs, which he uses to run marathons.

More importantly, Tom DeLay is no Moby Dick. Here is a top ten list supporting our case:

10. Led Zeppelin never wrote a song called "Tom DeLay."
9. Sperm whales don't take campaign contributions.
8. He's a little thinner. (Male sperm whales weigh about 50 tons.)
7. DeLay just voted to gut the Endangered Species Act, which protects sperm whales.
6. DeLay has a nice tan.
5. Members of sperm whale pods "protect the young, the sick and the injured."
4. According to blogger Rodney Anonymous, Tom DeLay has "sunk lower than whale droppings in the Marianas Trench"; if true, DeLay cannot be a Moby Dick, because he could not be lower than his own droppings. (Speaking of the Marianas, we all know what Tom DeLay did there.)
3. If number 4 is not true, perhaps Randy Cohen is right: "The ocean covers seven-tenths of the Earth's surface but not nearly enough of Tom DeLay," wrote Cohen in Slate in May 2000. (text not available.) Whales live in oceans; therefore if the ocean does not cover DeLay, he cannot be a whale.
2. Sperm whales don't play golf.

And the number one reason why Tom DeLay is no Moby Dick........................

1. Tom DeLay has been indicted on one count of criminal conspiracy by a grand jury in Travis County, Texas. Whatever DeLay and his friends may say in media interviews, he is not being attacked by harpoons thrown by crazy sea captains. He will be judged for his own actions by a jury of his peers. Sorry, Tom DeLay, but you are no Moby Dick.

p. s. Did you know that Moby is a descendant of Herman Melville? I didn't. Read what Moby has to say about Tom DeLay.

Tom DeLay = Moby Dick?

I suspect Nancy will have more to say on this later, but wanted to make sure that you all saw David's star turn in yesterday's New York Times.

"Perhaps the most famously zealous Ahab in pursuit of Mr. DeLay's resignation is David Donnelly, the national campaign director for the Public Campaign Action Fund, a nonprofit organization with an adjoining political committee that has devoted its efforts to tracking the House leader," writes Anne Kornblut.

"The War Against Tom DeLay" leads will DeLay complaining about Democrats who "drug my name through the mud." (Nancy might also have more to say about DeLay's grammar later, as well.)

DeLay Detritus: Monday News Round-up

On TV...
Indicted former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay was busy over the weekend, defending his honor on Fox News Sunday, predicting this would "be over very, very soon," and spewing venom about a "vast left-wing conspriacy."

Republican Connecticut Congressman Chris Shays said on CNN's Late Edition yesterday that the GOP should not return DeLay to leadership.

"We got elected basically by saying we would live by a higher moral standard, and I don't think recently we have," Shays said. "Tom's problem . . . is continual acts that border and go sometimes beyond the ethical edge."

Meanwhile, on CBS's "Face the Nation," Rep. David Dreier (R-CA), who heads the House Rules Committee, said that while DeLay won't be running the show, "he's a very important part of the team."

DeLay doesn't deserve to be part of the team. Please take a moment to sign our petition demanding that DeLay resign from Congress.

In the weekly newsmags...
DeLay makes the cover of this week's Newsweek, under the headline "Power Outage." Jonathan Alter, in column called "Tom DeLay's House of Shame," recalls a visit to DeLay's Capitol Hill office a decade ago to see the Congressman's "little black book" of lobbyists who wanted to meet with him. If the lobbyists were not Republicans and major contributors, DeLay confirmed, they wouldn't get into "the people's House."

"Thus began what historians will regard as the single most corrupt decade in the long and colorful history of the House of Representatives. Come on, you say. How about all those years when congressmen accepted cash in the House chamber and then staggered onto the floor drunk? Yes, special interests have bought off members of Congress at least since Daniel Webster took his seat while on the payroll of a bank," Alter writes. "And yes, Congress over the years has seen dozens of sex scandals and dozens of members brought low by financial improprieties. But never before has the leadership of the House been hijacked by a small band of extremists bent on building a ruthless shakedown machine, lining the pockets of their richest constituents and rolling back popular protections for ordinary people." (emphasis added)

There's too much to excerpt it all here...go check it out.

Time Magazine has Karen Tumulty and Mike Allen asking if the GOP can overcome their recent scandals in time for the midterm elections. While DeLay was on TV, asserting his innocence and guaranteeing his return to leadership, his allies seemed less certain.

"You leave a job like this, there is no coming back," says a top Republican official who likes DeLay and thinks he will be cleared. "Politics abhors a vacuum more than anything else, and it's going to move past him too quickly."

Think Progress picks up that the worst may still be to come for the indicted DeLay.

A former Abramoff associate who was questioned by the FBI in August says, "They had a lot of e-mails, a lot of traffic between our office and DeLay's office. There was nothing I saw that hit DeLay personally, but there was a lot of questionable stuff that was going on with his staff. 'Tom wants this. Tom wants that.' Was it really him or just the staff that was being aggressive?"

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Time's Cartoon of the Week: DeLay's Cash Cow