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Mavdog
04-06-2005, 08:43 AM
This is the type of conduct/arrogance which promted the Wall Street Journal to state that there "is an odor" around DeLay that is not pleasant, nor acceptable.
The exterminator has a lack of integrity which tarnishes the office he holds.
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Political Groups Paid Two Relatives of House Leader
By PHILIP SHENON

WASHINGTON, April 5 - The wife and daughter of Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, have been paid more than $500,000 since 2001 by Mr. DeLay's political action and campaign committees, according to a detailed review of disclosure statements filed with the Federal Election Commission and separate fund-raising records in Mr. DeLay's home state, Texas.

Most of the payments to his wife, Christine A. DeLay, and his only child, Dani DeLay Ferro, were described in the disclosure forms as "fund-raising fees," "campaign management" or "payroll," with no additional details about how they earned the money. The payments appear to reflect what Mr. DeLay's aides say is the central role played by the majority leader's wife and daughter in his political career.

Mr. DeLay's national political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority, or Armpac, said in a statement on Tuesday that the two women had provided valuable services to the committee in exchange for the payments: "Mrs. DeLay provides big picture, long-term strategic guidance and helps with personnel decisions. Ms. Ferro is a skilled and experienced professional event planner who assists Armpac in arranging and organizing individual events."

Mrs. Ferro has managed several of her father's re-election campaigns for his House seat.

His spokesman said that Mr. DeLay had no additional comment. Although several members of Congress employ family members as campaign managers or on their political action committees, advocacy groups seeking an overhaul of federal campaign-finance and ethics laws say that the payments to Mr. DeLay's family members were unusually generous, and should be the focus of new scrutiny of the Texas congressman.

Mr. DeLay, whose position as majority leader makes him the second-most-powerful House member, has offered a vigorous public defense in recent weeks to a flurry of ethics accusations from Democratic lawmakers and campaign watchdog groups, including charges that he violated House rules on travel. The executive director of Americans for a Republican Majority and a major fund-raiser for the committee were indicted in Texas last year on charges of illegal fund-raising, and prosecutors there have refused to rule out the possibility of charges against Mr. DeLay in the continuing inquiry.

In recent weeks, public interest groups have called on the House ethics committee and the Justice Department to review lavish, privately financed overseas trips for Mr. DeLay and his aides, including a 1997 trip to Russia that was underwritten by a conservative education group closely linked to a powerful Republican lobbyist who often boasted of his influence with the majority leader.

The payments to Mr. DeLay's family have continued into 2005; the latest monthly disclosure filed by Americans for a Republican Majority shows Mrs. DeLay was paid was paid $4,028 last month, while Mrs. Ferro received $3,681. Earlier statements show that the two women received similar monthly fees from the political action committee throughout 2003 and 2004.

Mrs. DeLay has been involved in her husband's political career and his fund-raising operations in Washington and Texas. In an interview in 2003 with Roll Call, a newspaper on Capitol Hill, a spokesman for Mr. DeLay explained Mrs. DeLay's role as "the final signoff of Tom's travel schedule, what events he attends and what his name appears on."

Mrs. Ferro has also helped manage Mr. DeLay's charity operations. Financial disclosure statements filed by Mr. DeLay's House campaign committees, which are separate from Americans for a Republican Majority, show that Mrs. Ferro and her political consulting firm, Coastal Consulting of Sugar Land, Tex., received $222,000 from 2001 through last year, reflecting her role in the re-election campaigns.

Although there has been no suggestion from prosecutors that Mrs. Ferro is under investigation by the grand jury in Austin, her records were subpoenaed in the inquiry, which is focused on the fund-raising activities of Texans for a Republican Majority, a state political action committee modeled on Americans for a Republican Majority. Mrs. Ferro received about $30,000 in fund-raising and consulting fees from Texans for a Republican Majority, the committee's records show.

"It's DeLay Inc. " said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a research group that has closely monitored Mr. DeLay and his campaign fund-raising and expenditures. "If it's not illegal, it certainly is inappropriate for members of Congress to use their positions to enrich their families."

Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics and a former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission, said that "questions are raised anytime a politician puts close family members on the payroll."

Republican lawmakers can point to prominent Democrats whose campaign and political action committees have provided lucrative jobs or consulting contracts to family members. Representative Howard L. Berman of California, the ranking Democrat on the House ethics committee from 1997 to 2003, paid $50,000 from his campaign accounts last year to a consulting firm owned by his brother, according to disclosure forms. Disclosure statements also show that Senator Barbara Boxer, another California Democrat, directed $15,000 from her political action committee in 2003 to a consulting firm run by her son.

Several public interest groups have called in recent weeks for the House ethics committee or another body that may be examining his finances to open an investigation of Mr. DeLay, focused in part on his privately financed overseas travels, including the 1997 trip to Moscow and a 2000 trip to Britain. Questions about the trips' financing were first raised in March in an article in the National Journal.

Mr. DeLay has denied that he violated House rules in accepting the 2000 trip from a conservative education group associated with one of the city's most powerful Republican lobbyists, Jack Abramoff.

The nonprofit education group, the National Center for Public Policy Research, has said it received large contributions from Mr. Abramoff's clients about the time of the trips, although it has denied that the donations were redirected to finance Mr. DeLay's travels.

The trip to Moscow, according to the American Foreign Policy Council report, was backed by the energy companies that had ties to the Russian government and that were trying to build support in Washington for Russian privatization efforts and trade policies.

Mr. DeLay met with Russian business and political leaders. House financial disclosure statements show that Mr. DeLay's travel costs totaled $9,029 and that the costs for five members of his staff totaled $55,033. It listed the sponsor as the National Center for Public Policy Research.

Bobby R. Burchfield, a lawyer for Mr. DeLay, declined to comment, as did the National Center for Public Policy Research. Jonathan Blank, managing partner at Preston Gates & Ellis in Washington, said the firm had represented Chelsea but would not discuss whether the organization had helped pay for Mr. DeLay's trip.

Dan Allen, a spokesman for Mr. DeLay, said the congressman had filed forms stating that the Moscow and Britain trips were paid by the National Center for Public Policy Research.

MavKikiNYC
04-06-2005, 03:54 PM
DeLay emits a lot of odors for a lot of reasons, but I'm wondering about these reports cited.

For one thing, the amount of money ($500,000) is for two staff positions, over 5 years---looks to be about $50K/year for an event planner-daughter, and a strategist/personnel manager-wife.

For another, the practice is acknowledged as pretty common.


Although several members of Congress employ family members as campaign managers or on their political action committees, advocacy groups seeking an overhaul of federal campaign-finance and ethics laws say that the payments to Mr. DeLay's family members were unusually generous, and should be the focus of new scrutiny of the Texas congressman.

Is $50K really that out of line for congressional campaign staff positions? If they did absolutely no work, that would be one thing, but that's not what's being alleged.

Would be more informative for the advocacy groups to put out comparable numbers for family members employed by other members of congress.

Mavdog
04-06-2005, 04:05 PM
$50K may not be a high amount for a full time staffmember, but for a parttime position it appears generous.

of course, the wife and daughter's compensation mentioned above doesn't include benefits of the frequent international trips that they are taken on and are fully paid by the lobbyist seeking DeLay's support...i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif

dude1394
04-06-2005, 05:32 PM
I also have heard (on CNN no less ) that Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi also have family members being paid out of pac money.

Drbio
04-07-2005, 09:35 AM
If DeLay would retire, mavdork would have nothing to bitch about.

Mavdog
04-07-2005, 10:32 AM
Apparently DeLay believes that a US Congressman isn't held to a very high standard of conduct. To paraphrase his response, "I don't have to know who is actually giving me large sums of money/gifts/all expenses paid trips, that's too much work."
On the contrary, the elected leaders of our country DO have an obligation to avoid any situations where money is buying their favors.
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DeLay blasts media over report of payments to family
From Ted Barrett
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- House Majority Leader Tom DeLay defended his family Wednesday, saying newspaper articles about his wife and daughter and about his trip to Russia were "seedy" efforts by the "liberal media" to humiliate him.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that DeLay's wife and daughter have been paid more than $500,000 since 2001 by DeLay's political action and campaign committees, according to a detailed review of disclosure statements filed with the Federal Election Commission and separate fund-raising records in Texas.

The newspaper reports were the latest political controversies for DeLay. He has been admonished three times by the House Ethics Committee, and he faces possible indictment in Texas in connection with a campaign finance probe.

The Times said the payments to DeLay's wife, Christine DeLay, and his only child, Dani DeLay Ferro, were described in the disclosure forms as "fund-raising fees," "campaign management" or "payroll," with no additional details about how they earned the money.

"My wife and daughter have any right, just like any other American, to be employed and be compensated for their employment," DeLay said. "It's pretty disgusting, particularly when my wife and daughter are singled out and others are not, in similar situations in the Senate and as well as the House.

"But it's just another seedy attempt by the liberal media to embarrass me."

Separately, The Washington Post reported Wednesday that a six-day trip to Moscow in 1997 by DeLay when he was majority whip was underwritten by business interests lobbying in support of the Russian government.

DeLay, R-Texas, said the trip was properly reported and paid for by a nonprofit group, but indicated he was unaware of the group's ties.

"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," he said. "The rules say if it's a legitimate organization that funds the trip and it's reported, it's legal."

He said the Republican Party continues to back him. He said that at a GOP conference Wednesday morning he had "an incredible show of support. ... I know it disappoints you guys, but it's true."

"I don't see any wavering of the support for the leader. I think a lot of members think he's taking arrows for all of us," Rep. Roy Blunt, third-ranking among GOP leaders, told The Associated Press.

Since 1984, DeLay has represented counties near Houston, Texas in the House of Representatives.

dude1394
04-07-2005, 10:54 AM
Whatever, how should he respond to a hit piece.

Mavdog
04-07-2005, 11:03 AM
Originally posted by: dude1394
Whatever, how should he respond to a hit piece.

"hit piece"???? The facts haven't been disputed, how is it a "hit piece"?

DeLay should not respond with an arrogance such as he is not responsible nor should he be held accountable for his conduct, that is for sure. To merely assert that it is "the liberal media" is not sufficient as that doesn't address the lack of ethics the story outlined.

dude1394
04-07-2005, 11:19 AM
Well you have to get past the NYTimes "math" first.

captain (http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/004244.php)
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The headline certainly sounds damning: "Political Groups Paid Two Relatives Of House Leader", a bold-type come-on that attracts the eye nicely. Philip Shenon's lead paragraph presses the case even more urgently, using a nice, large sum to get the readers' attention. But once one reads past the first couple of paragraphs -- and uses their elementary-school math -- one realizes that not only does the Gray Lady have nothing unusual to report, but that she's playing games with the numbers.

Let's take a look at the lead first:

The wife and daughter of Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, have been paid more than $500,000 since 2001 by Mr. DeLay's political action and campaign committees, according to a detailed review of disclosure statements filed with the Federal Election Commission and separate fund-raising records in Mr. DeLay's home state, Texas.

Most of the payments to his wife, Christine A. DeLay, and his only child, Dani DeLay Ferro, were described in the disclosure forms as "fund-raising fees," "campaign management" or "payroll," with no additional details about how they earned the money. The payments appear to reflect what Mr. DeLay's aides say is the central role played by the majority leader's wife and daughter in his political career.

Mr. DeLay's national political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority, or Armpac, said in a statement on Tuesday that the two women had provided valuable services to the committee in exchange for the payments: "Mrs. DeLay provides big picture, long-term strategic guidance and helps with personnel decisions. Ms. Ferro is a skilled and experienced professional event planner who assists Armpac in arranging and organizing individual events."

Mrs. Ferro has managed several of her father's re-election campaigns for his House seat.

Sounds pretty damning, doesn't it? Half a million dollars to his wife and "child" amounts to a nice lump of cash. The NYT makes this sound like a gross violation of either the law or House ethics, as if family members never serve as paid employees or consultants to Congressional PACs. Except that in the very next paragraph, we find out that the exact opposite is the case:

Although several members of Congress employ family members as campaign managers or on their political action committees, advocacy groups seeking an overhaul of federal campaign-finance and ethics laws say that the payments to Mr. DeLay's family members were unusually generous, and should be the focus of new scrutiny of the Texas congressman.

Oh, okay. Now the problem isn't that DeLay hired his wife and daughter -- it's that they were overpaid, at least according to "advocacy groups". Let's take a look at that, then, although now we have to skip down three more paragraphs:

The payments to Mr. DeLay's family have continued into 2005; the latest monthly disclosure filed by Americans for a Republican Majority shows Mrs. DeLay was paid was paid $4,028 last month, while Mrs. Ferro received $3,681. Earlier statements show that the two women received similar monthly fees from the political action committee throughout 2003 and 2004.

At that rate, Mrs. DeLay makes about $48,250 a year, while Mrs. Ferro earns closer to $40,000. At that rate over four years, the two of them put together would have made around $350,000. The remainder of the half-million comes from Mrs. Ferro's consulting firm which works on DeLay's election campaigns; it received $221,000 over four years (two election cycles), or about $55,000 a year.

Now let's take a look at a couple of other examples, buried even farther into the Times article:

Republican lawmakers can point to prominent Democrats whose campaign and political action committees have provided lucrative jobs or consulting contracts to family members. Representative Howard L. Berman of California, the ranking Democrat on the House ethics committee from 1997 to 2003, paid $50,000 from his campaign accounts last year to a consulting firm owned by his brother, according to disclosure forms. Disclosure statements also show that Senator Barbara Boxer, another California Democrat, directed $15,000 from her political action committee in 2003 to a consulting firm run by her son.

So even the amounts are not terribly unusual, especially given the Berman example -- and I don't recall the Times writing big headlines out of Berman's hiring practices. All we have is Philip Shenon using aggregate numbers to paint a misleading picture of Tom DeLay doing what other Congressmen and Senators do in hiring their families for staff members and consultants.

Don't get me wrong. I think the practice itself is a problem, one that we should pressure our representatives to end. It can lead to back-door corruption far too easily. However, for the Times and the Left to jump all over DeLay as unethical and singular in this practice is dishonest, ignorant, and transparently partisan.

Mavdog
04-07-2005, 06:56 PM
the wsj opinion piece i mentioned above. seems very appropriate.
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Smells Like Beltway
The real reason Tom DeLay is in political trouble.

Monday, March 28, 2005 12:01 a.m.

By now you have surely read about House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's ethics troubles. Probably, too, you aren't entirely clear as to what those troubles are--something to do with questionable junkets, Indian casino money, funny business on the House Ethics Committee, stuff down in Texas. In Beltway-speak, what this means is that Mr. DeLay has an "odor": nothing too incriminating, nothing actually criminal, just an unsavory whiff that could have GOP loyalists reaching for the political Glade if it gets any worse.
The Beltway wisdom is right. Mr. DeLay does have odor issues. Increasingly, he smells just like the Beltway itself.

Here is the abbreviated rap sheet against Mr. DeLay. First, we have the imbroglio with the House Ethics Committee, which last year rebuked him on three occasions. Among his sins: He offered to endorse outgoing Representative Nick Smith's son in a GOP primary if Mr. Smith would vote "yes" on the Medicare prescription-drug bill. (Mr. Smith declined the offer; his son lost the primary.) Mr. DeLay has since changed Committee rules so that it can no longer launch investigations on a party-line basis, and by packing the Committee with loyalists.

Next, there is the Texas business. Ronnie Earle, the district attorney for Travis County (which contains Austin), last year indicted three DeLay associates involved in his Texans for a Republican Majority political action committee for money laundering and illegal campaign contributions. Mr. Earle also will not rule out a possible indictment of Mr. DeLay himself.

Mr. Earle, a partisan Democrat, has a record of making suspect accusations: In 1993, he indicted newly elected Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison on evidence so weak the case was never brought to trial. The indictments of Mr. DeLay's associates came just six weeks before November's elections; Mr. Earle's primary aim, it seemed, was to derail Mr. DeLay's ultimately successful efforts to achieve the first Republican majority in the Texas delegation to the U.S. House since Reconstruction. Still, the "odor" stuck; last year Mr. DeLay had to fend off a stiff challenge from a complete unknown to keep what otherwise would have been his safe seat.

Finally, there are the junkets, three in particular. In December 1997, Mr. DeLay visited the Northern Marianas Islands in the company of lobbyist pal Jack Abramoff, now under investigation by the Senate Finance Committee, who just happened to be representing the garment industry there. Mr. DeLay later led a legislative effort to extend the Islands' exemption from U.S. immigration and labor laws.
In May 2000, Messrs. DeLay and Abramoff took a $70,000 trip to the U.K. (including a golf outing to the St. Andrews course in Scotland) in the company of two House colleagues and some staff and spouses. Depending on which account you believe, Mr. DeLay's expenses were picked up either by an outfit called the National Center for Public Policy Research, on whose board Mr. Abramoff then sat, or by Mr. Abramoff directly, who later charged the trip to his clients, the gambling Mississippi Choctaw nation. Under House rules, members are not allowed to have their travel expenses covered by a lobbyist.

In August 2001, Mr. DeLay and several House colleagues (including four Democrats) visited South Korea on a trip sponsored by the Korea-United States Exchange Council, which has close ties to former DeLay staff chief Ed Buckham and was registered as foreign agent just days before the trip. House rules forbid members from traveling at their expense, but it is unclear whether Mr. DeLay or his colleagues were aware of the Korean Exchange Council's status at the time of their departure.

Taken separately, and on present evidence, none of the latest charges directly touch Mr. DeLay; at worst, they paint a picture of a man who makes enemies by playing political hardball and loses admirers by resorting to politics-as-usual.

The problem, rather, is that Mr. DeLay, who rode to power in 1994 on a wave of revulsion at the everyday ways of big government, has become the living exemplar of some of its worst habits. Mr. DeLay's ties to Mr. Abramoff might be innocent, in a strictly legal sense, but it strains credulity to believe that Mr. DeLay found nothing strange with being included in Mr. Abramoff's lavish junkets.

Nor does it seem very plausible that Mr. DeLay never considered the possibility that the mega-lucrative careers his former staffers Michael Scanlon and Mr. Buckham achieved after leaving his office had something to do with their perceived proximity to him. These people became rich as influence-peddlers in a government in which legislators like Mr. DeLay could make or break fortunes by tinkering with obscure rules and dispensing scads of money to this or that constituency. Rather than buck this system as he promised to do while in the minority, Mr. DeLay has become its undisputed and unapologetic master as Majority Leader.
Whether Mr. DeLay violated the small print of House Ethics or campaign-finance rules is thus largely beside the point. His real fault lies in betraying the broader set of principles that brought him into office, and which, if he continues as before, sooner or later will sweep him out.

FishForLunch
04-08-2005, 12:14 PM
Would you call lobbying a bribe, I would. Why cant you lobby the congressman without paying money. Cooked bastards

dude1394
04-09-2005, 04:12 PM
Hmmmm....seems like the NYTimes is losing it's ability to "make" news. What's a MSM to do now??

tnr (http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=w050404&s=cottle040805)

THAT'S LIFE
Tom Foolery
by Michelle Cottle
Print this article.

As the liberal offspring of conservative parents, I rarely find anything political over which to bond with my red-state family. I was therefore pleasantly surprised this week to learn that Tom DeLay's theatrics during the Terri Schiavo tragedy have, in addition to earning him a public slap from Dick Cheney, cost him the vote of my staunchly Republican father, a resident of the majority leader's suburban-Houston district. It seems Dad is so disgusted with DeLay's hysterical ranting about holding judges accountable for Schiavo's death that he's written his congressman off as "absurd," pronouncing, "I think he's lost it."

Sadly, I suspect DeLay's Schiavo shenanigans won't do him serious political damage, or at least not enough to matter in his deep-red district. Still, I regard his alienation of even a few GOP loyalists like my dad to be yet another delightful case of the majority leader's bad behavior coming back to bite him on the backside in recent months. With a political powerhouse like the Hammer, it generally takes several drops of blood in the water before the other sharks have a prayer of taking you down. So at this point, every high-profile bit of rank arrogance or stupidity on DeLay's part gives potential aid and comfort to all those who'd love to see the reptilian congressman involuntarily privatized.

That said, when I picked up The New York Times on Wednesday to see a breathless, above-the-fold front-pager about how DeLay's wife and daughter have been paid piles of cash by DeLay's political organizations, only one thought ran through my mind: What on God's green earth was the Times thinking?

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POLITICAL GROUPS PAID 2 RELATIVES OF HOUSE LEADER screamed the headline (in all caps, naturally), as the subheds piled on: OVER $500,000 SINCE 2001; DeLay Wife and Daughter Got Money for Work Tied to Campaigns. So seductive was the scent of scandal that AOL featured the story on its opening screen, complete with a sour headshot of the beleaguered majority leader.

But titillated readers anticipating details of a gross ethical--possibly even legal!--breach by DeLay were in for disappointment. As it turns out, there is nothing shady about the payments to the congressman's kin. Daughter Dani and wife Christine have long been actively involved in DeLay's political career--planning events, raising money, organizing schedules, helping manage the occasional campaign. Were the two women out of line for demanding money for their services? Presumably not, since even the Times acknowledged (though not until well into the piece) that DeLay is far from the only lawmaker who has allowed relatives to cash in on his political career; others include Democrats such as Senator Barbara Boxer and Representative Howard Berman. (Hell, if political nepotism were a crime, half the Bush and Cheney clans would be in jail by now.)

It's hardly surprising that DeLay's colleagues have declined to take a poke at him over this ostensible outrage. Even the typically overwrought public interest groups have remained relatively subdued. The most the Times could get anyone to complain about was that the amount paid to DeLay's wife and daughter was "unusually generous" and may bear examination. Wow. Talk about a whole lot of ink wasted on nothing.

Now I'm all for kicking a goon when he's down--especially an arrogant, power-mad goon like DeLay. But the Times' push to turn a mole hill into page-one material isn't just a case of questionable journalism--though that, of course, is what the paper of record should be fretting about. In crass political terms--say, from the standpoint of the countless Dems quietly relishing the additional bad press for their nemesis--the piece also has the potential to be actively counterproductive, steering the conversation away from DeLay's actual misdeeds, while lending credence to the congressman's eternal protestations that he is being unfairly targeted by his ideological enemies.

Wednesday's Times had barely hit the stands when DeLay went on CNN to denounce "another seedy attempt by the liberal media to embarrass me" (an interview recapped in the next day's papers). Ordinarily, I ignore such bluster from the lib-baiting DeLay. But when he groused that his wife and daughter had been "singled out" for a perfectly legal, run-of-the-mill practice, I had to (grudgingly) concede his point. While the Times may not have been operating with a liberal bias, its desperation to advance a sexy storyline was clear.

But as tempting as it is to cheer journalistic overkill when its target is a character as noxious as DeLay, do the congressman's foes really want to risk having the spotlight diverted to a "culture of Washington" issue that who knows how many lawmakers would have to answer for? (And will, if the spotlight stays there for long.) Wouldn't it be better--for everyone except DeLay, that is--to keep all eyes on the Hammer's more serious problems?

Each week seems to bring fresh news of some big-ticket junket DeLay took, utterly clueless that some mysterious interest group or lobbyist or foreign agent was paying for it in violation of congressional rules. What the gentleman from Texas knew and when he knew it remains a point of hot debate as yet; but as the troublesome infractions pile up, DeLay's willful ignorance begins to feel less and less exculpatory.

Then, of course, there's still the possibility DeLay will wind up in legal trouble as a result of the ongoing civil and criminal probes into just how many laws the folks who ran his state PAC violated in helping him secure a Republican majority in the Texas legislature. Right now, the man who--arguably more than any other--amassed congressional power by ruthlessly, obsessively, tirelessly perfecting the art of political extortion (oops, make that fundraising) is asking everyone to believe that his Texans for a Republican Majority PAC cronies were engaged in creatively financing DeLay's pet project without even his knowledge, much less his oversight or participation. It's a side-splitting defense when you think about it: poor, hapless, out-of-touch DeLay, Capitol Hill's version of Bernie Ebbers. (Gawsh, folks, I didn't know nothin' 'bout nothin'. I just let my underlings handle it all.) Just look how well Ebbers's dumb act worked for him.

With the Hammer under fire for so many (alleged) real sins, why risk manufacturing any dirt? If the Dan Rather episode taught the media anything (besides the value of confirming source material), it should have been the danger of over-hyping a scandal to the point that we wind up transforming the subject of an investigation into a media martyr. These are treacherous times for DeLay, but the man is crafty. And journalists must take care not to give him even an inch of wiggle room to make the story about anything other than his own misconduct.

dude1394
04-10-2005, 02:28 PM
Damn...Seems that Sen Dem Leader Harry Reid is also in on the deal... Wonder why the NYTimes doesn't sorta bring this up to balance out their coverage???

bizblogger (http://bizblogger.blogspot.com/2005/04/compare-tom-delay-to-harry-reid.html)


What most people don't realize is that many members of Congress have family members working for political campaigns or lobbying firms. Let's look at just one prominent example: Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid:

According to a 2003 LA Times article:

The Howard Hughes Corp. alone paid $300,000 to the tiny Washington consulting firm of [Harry Reid's] son-in-law Steven Barringer to push a provision allowing the company to acquire 998 acres of federal land ripe for development in the exploding Las Vegas metropolitan area.

Barringer is listed in federal lobbyist reports as one of Hughes' representatives on the measure that his father-in-law introduced.

Other provisions were intended to benefit a real estate development headed by a senior partner in the Nevada law firm that employs all four of Reid's sons by moving the right-of-way for a federal power-transmission line off his property and onto what had been protected federal wilderness.

The governments of three of Nevada's biggest cities Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson also gained from the legislation, which freed up tens of thousands of acres of federal land for development and annexation. All three were represented by Reid's family members who contacted his staff on their clients' behalf.


And if you want to get Reid's take on having family members work behind the scenes for a member of Congress, just listen to his own words:

"Lots of people have children, wives and stuff that work back here," he said. "It is not as if a lot of cash is changing hands."

In the last four years alone, their [Reid family members'] firms have collected more than $2 million in lobbying fees from special interests that were represented by the kids and helped by the senator in Washington.

So pervasive are the ties among Reid, members of his family and Nevada's leading industries and institutions that it's difficult to find a significant field in which such a relationship does not exist.


Somehow I haven't heard a single menion of Harry Reid's "ethics violations" over the past week.

Mavdog
04-26-2005, 10:25 AM
Tom DeLay isn't very smart on covering the trail of the $. Too much evidence to be ignored, he isn't above the law.
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DeLay Airfare Was Charged To Lobbyist's Credit Card

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 24, 2005; A01



The airfare to London and Scotland in 2000 for then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was charged to an American Express card issued to Jack Abramoff, a Washington lobbyist at the center of a federal criminal and tax probe, according to two sources who know Abramoff's credit card account number and to a copy of a travel invoice displaying that number.

DeLay's expenses during the same trip for food, phone calls and other items at a golf course hotel in Scotland were billed to a different credit card also used on the trip by a second registered Washington lobbyist, Edwin A. Buckham, according to receipts documenting that portion of the trip.

House ethics rules bar lawmakers from accepting travel and related expenses from registered lobbyists. DeLay, who is now House majority leader, has said that his expenses on this trip were paid by a nonprofit organization and that the financial arrangements for it were proper. He has also said he had no way of knowing that any lobbyist might have financially supported the trip, either directly or through reimbursements to the nonprofit organization.

The documents obtained by The Washington Post, including receipts for his hotel stays in Scotland and London and billings for his golfing during the trip at the famed St. Andrews course in Scotland, substantiate for the first time that some of DeLay's expenses on the trip were billed to charge cards used by the two lobbyists. The invoice for DeLay's plane fare lists the name of what was then Abramoff's lobbying firm, Preston Gates & Ellis.

Multiple sources, including DeLay's then-chief of staff Susan Hirschmann, have confirmed that DeLay's congressional office was in direct contact with Preston Gates about the trip itinerary before DeLay's departure, to work out details of his travel. These contacts raise questions about DeLay's statement that he had no way of knowing about the financial and logistical support provided by Abramoff and his firm.

Yesterday, DeLay's lawyer, Bobby R. Burchfield, said that DeLay's staff was aware that Preston Gates was trying to arrange meetings and hotels for the trip but that DeLay was unaware of the "logistics" of bill payments, and that DeLay "continues to understand his expenses" were properly paid by the nonprofit organization, the National Center for Public Policy Research.

In 2000, Abramoff was a board member of the group. In a telephone interview yesterday, Hirschmann said the contacts between DeLay's office and persons at Preston Gates occurred because Abramoff "was a board member of the sponsoring organization." Hirschmann added: "We were assured that the National Center paid for the trip."

House rules do not exempt such nonprofit organization board members from the prohibition on lobbyist payments for travel. They also state that this prohibition "applies even where the lobbyist . . . will later be reimbursed for those expenses by a non-lobbyist client."

Burchfield did not dispute that Abramoff used his credit card to pay for DeLay's plane fare, but said in a statement that "the majority leader has always believed and continues to believe that all appropriate expenses for the U.K. trip were paid by the National Center for Public Policy Research." He said that "to the extent that Mr. Abramoff put the charges on his personal credit card, Mr. DeLay has no knowledge of this. But that would be consistent with Mr. Abramoff obtaining full reimbursement from the National Center."

He said further that, in his view, Abramoff's participation on this trip as a board member meant he was permitted to pay for some of the expenses, subject to reimbursement, and that numerous court decisions recognize that different rules may be applicable to the same person acting in different capacities.

Andrew Blum, a publicist for Abramoff's lawyer and spokesman for Abramoff, did not respond to questions relating to the use of Abramoff's credit card for DeLay's plane fare. But he said in a statement yesterday that it was the National Center that "sponsored" the trip, "not Jack Abramoff."

Blum said that DeLay was "one of the center's honored guests on this trip" and that Abramoff "is being singled out for doing what is commonly done by lobbyists -- taking trips with members of Congress and their staff so that they can learn about issues that impact the Congress and government policy." The center's ability to sponsor "this type of educational trip, using contributor funds, is both legal and proper," Blum said.

DeLay was admonished three times last year by the House ethics committee for infringing rules governing lawmakers' activities and their contacts with registered lobbyists. House ethics rules bar the payment by lobbyists for any lawmaker's travel-connected entertainment and recreational activities costing more than $50; they also require that lawmakers accurately report the sponsor of their trips and the full cost.

In an article last month about the same trip by DeLay, The Post reported that an Indian tribe and a gambling services company made donations to the National Center for Public Policy Research that covered most of the expenses declared by participants at that time. The article also said these payments were made two months before DeLay voted against legislation opposed by the tribe and the company. DeLay has said the vote was unrelated to the payments.

The article also reported that Abramoff submitted an expense voucher to Preston Gates seeking a reimbursement of $12,789.73 to cover expenses for meals, hotels and transportation during the London and Scotland trip incurred by DeLay; his wife, Christine; and his two aides.

The new receipts add more detail about these expenses, make clear that the total expenses for all of the participants were at least $50,000 more than was previously known, and connect Abramoff directly to the payment of some charges.

For DeLay, the 10-day trip began on May 25 with a flight to London from Dulles airport and ended on June 3 with a return trip from Europe via Newark and ending in Houston. In between, his itinerary called for stops in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and St. Andrews, in Scotland. DeLay said the purpose of the trip was to hold meetings with "Conservative leaders" in Britain and Scotland, including Margaret Thatcher. The former prime minister's office has confirmed that such a meeting occurred.

DeLay's two aides, Tony Rudy and Susan Hirschmann, had an overlapping itinerary; Rudy participated from May 29 to June 3, and Hirschmann participated from May 22 to June 2. The spouses of Rudy and Buckham also were present.

The travel receipts do not make clear how the expenses for the entire trip -- which involved at least 10 people and which two sources said exceeded $120,000 -- were paid. One source familiar with the billings said yesterday that the National Center reimbursed Abramoff for the charges incurred by DeLay and his staff that were billed to Abramoff's credit card; but the receipts themselves do not indicate whether some of the charges incurred by Abramoff were ultimately reimbursed and, if so, by whom.

The receipts make clear that flights for DeLay and his wife were initially billed to Abramoff. The plane ticket for the husband of one of DeLay's aides -- David Hirschmann -- was billed to the same American Express card used for the DeLay tickets, according to a copy of the invoice.

Although Amy Ridenour, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research, has said she organized the trip, two other sources said that DeLay's round-trip business-class tickets on Continental Airlines and British Airways were booked by Preston Gates employees.

The itinerary and invoice for DeLay's trip, prepared by a travel service in Seattle, was sent by the service to Preston Gates on May 23, 2000, according to a copy of the invoice. That was two days before DeLay's departure. The invoice states that DeLay's business-class tickets on Continental Airlines and British Airways cost $6,938.70.

The records also indicate that the expenses associated with DeLay exceeded those that he declared in a signed statement to the House clerk on June 30, 2000. That form listed the purpose of the trip as "educational" and gave a tally of $28,106 in expenses for DeLay and his wife, or an average of $2,800 a day; it stated that all of these charges were paid by the National Center for Public Policy Research, which provided the data to DeLay.

Receipts from the golfing portion of the trip show that DeLay accumulated additional charges, which, according to fees set by the tour arranger, amounted to nearly $5,000 for each golfer and totaled in the tens of thousands of dollars for the entire group. Fees associated with playing golf are not listed on DeLay's travel disclosure form. Burchfield, DeLay's lawyer, said DeLay "personally paid for two rounds of golf and understands that the other two rounds of golf he played were included in his hotel package" and reimbursed by the National Center.

A copy of the $184 bill for the DeLays' expenses during the trip at a separate hotel in St. Andrews -- the Old Course Hotel Golf Resort & Spa -- states that those charges were paid by the same American Express credit card used on the trip by Buckham, the lobbyist, to pay for his own hotel room at the Glasgow Hilton. Buckham could not be reached by phone at home or his office and did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment. Burchfield said he cannot explain how this happened and did not know who owned this credit card; he also said DeLay was unaware of this fact.

Buckham, a former chief of staff to DeLay, was at the time a registered lobbyist for AT&T, Enron Corp., and the Nuclear Energy Institute. DeLay's wife was employed, at the time of the trip, by Buckham's lobbying firm, the Alexander Strategy Group, and was receiving a salary from it, according to DeLay's personal financial disclosure statement for that year, on file with the House clerk.

Abramoff, at the time of the trip, represented eLottery Inc. , a gambling services company that opposed the Internet gambling bill pending before the House. Preston Gates registered as a lobbyist for eLottery on June 2, 2000, one day before the trip ended; later in the year, Abramoff registered as a lobbyist for other clients who opposed the bill, including several Indian tribes. The federal probe is looking into his handling of his tribal clients and the large fees he was paid.

Hirschmann and her husband ultimately accumulated charges of 2,073 British pounds, or about $3,109 at the prevailing exchange rate for four nights in their "superior" room at the London Four Seasons Hotel. Those charges included $129 at the hotel lounge, $75 from the room bar, $34 from the gift shop, and $422 for chauffeured cars, according to a copy of their hotel bill. Hirschmann said one car was used to reach the meeting with Thatcher.

At least one of the Hirschmanns also played golf at St. Andrews. Susan Hirschmann is now a lobbyist at the Washington firm of Williams & Jensen; the firm's Web site contains a published claim that DeLay and other House Republican leaders are in frequent contact with her. As a staff member at the time of the trip, she would have been covered by the same ethics rules that apply to DeLay and other House members. Rudy, her staff colleague at the time, now works for Buckham's lobbying firm.

DeLay and his wife, for their part, stayed for four nights in a "conservatory" room at the same hotel in London as Hirschmann, accumulating charges of roughly $790 a night for rooms that included a glass-enclosed porch overlooking London's Park Lane, according to a copy of the bill for their stay and the Web site of the hotel.

They also ran up hotel charges of $145 for room service, $13 for a valet pressing and $302 for a private car from Heathrow airport, the bill states. Their room bill also lists a charge of $434 for six theater tickets, but Burchfield said the DeLays do not recall attending any plays in London. He said if the hotel charges were being "picked up" by a representative of the National Center, "they would not necessarily have seen the hotel bill."

DeLay, Burchfield said, "does not know how the logistics . . . [of the bill payments for the trip] were being effectuated."

House ethics rules contain detailed provisions barring the acceptance of any travel funds from private sources if doing so would "create the appearance of using public office for private gain." They also obligate lawmakers to "make inquiry on the source of the funds that will be used to pay" for any travel ostensibly financed by a nonprofit organization -- to rule out the acceptance of reimbursements that come from one organization when a trip is "in fact organized and conducted by someone else."

Trips outside the United States are also not supposed to exceed a week in length out of concern, the rules state, for "the public perception that such trips often may amount to paid vacations for the Member and his family at the expense of special interest groups."

FishForLunch
04-26-2005, 10:34 AM
I guess it is high time we had term limits.