Thursday, April 14, 2005

DeLay's Doings

April 1(14), 2005
It’s hard to turn on a television these days without seeing something about Tom DeLay, a politician who is now under a constant attack from the Democratic Party and many ethical persons on both sides of the aisle. The besieged House Majority Leader has been cited three times by the House Ethics Committee for violations of Congressional rules. This makes Mr. DeLay the most cited member of the current Congress. With all of this commotion, what has Mr. DeLay been accused of, and what, if anything, has he done?
Despite claims to the contrary, by DeLay and by other Republicans, the senator has clearly violated several portions of the House ethics code. For example, DeLay has taken several overseas trips to South Korea since 2001, all of them paid for by a foreign agent and all thus in conflict with Congressional rules. Incidentally, the agent, Korea-U.S. Exchange, has the same address as a prominent Washington lobbying group that just so happens to be run by Ed Buckman, DeLay’s chief of staff.
DeLay has also been accused of using illegal fundraising methods to bolster his Texas campaigns. Similarly, the role that DeLay played in redrawing Texas congressional district lines has come under scrutiny, and a grand jury in that state is considering indicting him. Organizations in which DeLay has a hand have also been implicated in the ongoing inquiries against him.
For example, the National Republican Congressional Committee, a body to whom DeLay’s services have been invaluable, paid a $280,000.00 fine last year for improperly transferring over half a million dollars in campaign money that was used to run radio ads against the Democrats. DeLay’s wife may have also been involved; she and her daughter received approximately $500,000.00 in pay from Ed Buckman’s Alexander Strategy Group between 1998-2002.
Jack Abramoff, a close aide to DeLay who arranged ethically questionable foreign trips for the Congressman, is now under investigation for defrauding Indian tribes that hired him as a lobbyist. Abramoff recently declared that, “DeLay and those S.O.B.’s knew everything” about the alleged illegal doings. This, of course, contradicts DeLay’s statement that he thought his foreign ventures were financed by non-profit conservative groups.
Even the most staunchly conservative Republicans are hard-pressed to deny that DeLay’s activities at least merit further investigation (though they somehow persist in defending him), and a truly neutral observer could easily see that this man is nothing more than an enormously corrupt public official who has misused the trust placed in him by the people of the United States. It seems unlikely that Mr. DeLay will maintain his current status beyond the next few months. Republican Christopher Shayes is the first of what will soon become many Republicans to turn on DeLay as he becomes too politically hot to handle. That certainly hasn’t been the case up until now, though. When, several months ago, it appeared that DeLay would be charged, Congressional Republicans took swift action in changing House ethics rules so that the Majority Leader would not be forced to step down. This caused such a public outrage that the move was soon retracted. Many felt, however, that the debacle made a statement about the GOP’s fundamental nature; if existing laws don’t benefit their members, those laws will be shamelessly gutted so as to better accommodate government corruption on the right. Indeed, the current conservative clamor over Democrats, “disregarding the Constitution,” by opposing the nuclear action is rendered laughable by the DeLay scandal. Perhaps Democrats should convene meetings to reshuffle Congressional restrictions the next time that one of their own is in political trouble. If Democrats tried to distort ethical regulations to protect Nancy Pelosi, the religious right would be incensed, no doubt ranting that the nobility of Congress as an institution had been inalterably desecrated.
They would be right.


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