Tuesday, May 03, 2005


The Unreported Side Of The Ethics Battle

What comes around goes around. After months of being told by the media (see the SAEN's contributions here, here, and here) that it was sleazy for Tom DeLay to take trips paid for by lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the Washington Post reports today that two Democratic congressmen took tips on Abramoff's dime:
Records show that lobbyist Jack Abramoff initially paid travel expenses for trips to the Northern Mariana Islands for two Democratic congressmen and at least two aides to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

Take note: only aides to DeLay took the trips, but on the Democratic side of the coin, the Congressmen themsleves actually took the trips. But don't take my word for it that what they did was wrong. Here is how the problem is explained over at local blog Rhetoric & Rhythm:
No, the problem is he took trips paid for by corporate lobbyists which is not allowed under House rules. As the Washington Post reported this weekend, DeLay's plane trip to London and Scotland in 2000 was charged to an American Express card issued to Jack Abramoff.

Notice that Mike is quoting from the same source as I am now using, the Washington Post. This is no mere case of playing "gotcha." The truth is that all of the charges against DeLay are typical of the abuses by many serving in Congress, on both sides of the aisle. While such abuses of power are regrettable in themselves, the more important point is that the mainstream media’s sole focus on DeLay reveals their bias and the concerted campaign to “get” DeLay because of his effectiveness as a floor leader for the Republican agenda. Furthermore, those on the left who have chosen to focus on DeLay and ignore members of their own party wipe out any chances at passing meaningful reform in the Congress to cover such actions, and virtually guarantee that we are headed for an ethics war in the Congress. It would be nice if the SAEN would report both sides of this important issue.

[Mark contributed to this post]
“all of the charges against DeLay are typical of the abuses by many serving in Congress”

Oh, Really?

Do these other Congressmen have a history of being admonished by the House Ethics Committee?

• K Street Project (1999) – Admonished for threatening Electronic Industries Alliance for not hiring a Republican as its president.  The Ethics Committee itself initiated this investigation.
Source: “Ethics Panel Chastises DeLay For Threatening Trade Group,” The Washington Post, May 14, 1999

• Westar Energy (2004) – Admonished for creating at least the “appearance” that Westar Energy executives were provided special access at a West Virginia golf retreat as result of $25,000 in corporate contributions to Texans for a Republican Majority, a political group affiliated with DeLay. At the time of the retreat, the House was about to consider an energy bill that Westar hoped to influence. A complaint filed by former Rep. Chris Bell (D-TX) initiated this investigation.  Link
Source: Memorandum to Members of the House Ethics Committee 

• Texas Redistricting (2004) – Admonished for using government resources for a political undertaking. Delay’s staff contacted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) during the 2003 Texas redistricting battle to obtain information from FAA databases on the whereabouts of Democratic Members of the Texas House who had fled Austin in a plane for the purpose of denying the House a quorum.  A complaint filed by Bell initiated this investigation.  Link
Source: Memorandum to Members of the House Ethics Committee  

• Medicare Bill (2004) – Admonished for offering to endorse Rep. Nick Smith’s (R-MI) son, who would be running for Congress, on the House floor in exchange for Rep. Smith’s vote in favor of the Medicare/prescription drug bill. The Ethics Committee itself initiated this investigation.  Link
Source: Investigation of Certain Allegations Related to Voting on the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003

If these Democratic lawmakers are found guilty of breaking House rules then they should be admonished. It would be the first time for each of them and an unprecendented fifth time (and counting) for Tom DeLay.
The four examples cited by CommonCause is really the worst they can come up with on Delay? To be honest, I'm surprised the case against him is so weak.

Of particular humor is the Westar crime of "creating at least the appearance..." - the horror! And the pathetic attempt to get vengeance for redistricting by claiming he broke the law trying to corral the Dems who were illegally running away to New Mexico - a gutbuster.

This is almost as weak as the case against John Bolton...perhaps DeLay also once spoke in a loud voice to a subordinate? Out with him!

DeLay's retention of his office in the face of these sordid transgressions is a slap in the face to America1
Oh no Mike, he was "admonished." Is that even as serious as a dressing down or being given an wedgie?
I know, let's send Tom to his room without supper!
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