3/13/2005

DeLay Watch

What has DeLay got on all these people who keep showering him with cash? Polaroids? Secret tapes?
The NY Times reports:
A legal defense fund established by Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, has dramatically expanded its fund-raising effort in recent months, taking in more than $250,000 since the indictment last fall of two his closest political operatives in Texas, according to Mr. DeLay's latest financial disclosure statements. The list of recent donors includes dozens of Mr. DeLay's House Republican colleagues, including two lawmakers who were placed on the House ethics committee this year, and several of the nation's largest corporations and their executives. Among the corporate donors to the defense fund is Bacardi U.S.A., the Florida-based rum maker, which has also been indicted in the Texas investigation, and Reliant Energy, another major contributor to a Texas political action committee formed by Mr. DeLay that is the focus of the criminal inquiry. Groups seeking an overhaul of Congressional ethics rules have long complained that companies might seek the favor of powerful lawmakers by contributing to their legal defense funds. While the disclosure forms show that the defense fund has raised nearly $1 million since its establishment in 2000 and that Mr. DeLay is continuing to pick up generous donations from House Republicans and corporate executives, the documents also suggest that the majority leader's fund-raising efforts could soon be outpaced by ballooning legal bills. The disclosure statements show that Mr. DeLay, whose title as majority leader makes him the second most powerful Republican in the House and whose fund-raising tactics led the House ethics committee to admonish him last year, paid $370,000 in legal fees last year - $260,000 of it in the final three months of the year. The fees were divided among lawyers in Washington and Mr. DeLay's home state of Texas, where he is facing scrutiny by a grand jury in Austin over his role in the creation and management of Texans for a Republican Majority, the political action committee that he helped establish in 2001. The committee has been accused of funneling illegal corporate donations to state Republican candidates in the 2002 elections.

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