4/11/2005

DeLay Watch...the beat goes on

From the Center for American Progress:
For months, Tom DeLay has tried to avoid culpability for illicitly financed junkets to England, Russia and elsewhere by claiming he didn't know the source of the funding. Last week, DeLay told CNN, "I can't – no Member can be responsible for going into the bowels of researching what this organization, how it gets its money or how it's funded." According to one of DeLay's closest associates, that isn't true. Newsweek reports that Jack Abramoff – the lobbyist who organized the trips – told a colleague "DeLay knew everything, he knew all the details."
Right-wing stalwarts like Robert Novak and Rich Lowry continue to describe criticism of DeLay as partisan. The facts don't back them up. In recent days DeLay "has been criticized in two blue-chip conservative forums: the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times column of David Brooks." This weekend, Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) said, "Tom DeLay should step down as House majority leader" because of his ethics problems. Appearing on ABC's This Week on Sunday, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) said DeLay "has to come forward and lay out what he did and why he did it and let the people then judge for themselves."
DeLay's cronies "plan to try to preserve his power by launching an aggressive media strategy." The plan includes "leaks from DeLay allies about questionable Democratic trips and financial matters; denunciations of unfavorable news stories as biased, orchestrated rehashes; and swift, organized responses to journalists' inquiries." The overall message from DeLay will be that "an attack on him is an attack on the conservative movement." The group will also "hold a tribute dinner for DeLay on May 12 at the Capital Hilton."
Yesterday on Fox News Sunday, "journalist" Brit Hume revealed his total inability to asses DeLay's ethical problems. Hume said to host Chris Wallace that the trip to Russia that was financed by foreign lobbyists wasn't a big deal. Hume said, "It's not at all clear that DeLay knew that [the trip was financed by foreign lobbists]. If he had known that, it still wouldn't have probably been illegal, but it would have been questionable." First, according to legal experts, "House members bear some responsibility to ensure that the sponsors for their travel are not masquerading for registered lobbyists or foreign government interests." So ignorance is not an excuse. Second, if DeLay knowingly allowed his trip to Russia to be paid for by lobbyists it wouldn't be "questionable," it would be in direct violation of House ethics rules.

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