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2004-10-08

Calls Increase for DeLay to Resign After Ethics Committee Again Admonishes Majority Leader

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Congressional Democrats and government watch groups are stepping up their calls for House Majority leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) to resign his post as House Majority Leader after the House Ethics Committee admonished him for failing to carry out his duties in a forthright and ethical manner. We speak with Lou Dubose, author of a new political biography on Tom Delay called The Hammer.[includes rush transcript]

Congressional Democrats and government watch groups are stepping up their calls for House Majority leader Tom DeLay of Texas to resign his post as House Majority Leader. On Wednesday, the bi-partisan House ethics Committee admonished the powerful Republican lawmaker for failing to carry out his duties in a forthright and ethical manner. It was the committee’s second admonishment of DeLay in a week. Several other ethics complaints against DeLay are still pending before the ethics committee, the Department of Justice, the Federal Election Commission and an Austin, Texas, grand jury.

Still, House Republicans say that the powerful legislator known as the Hammer is in no danger of losing his position and remains likely to succeed House Speaker Dennis Hastert as Speaker of the House. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said at a news conference "the burden falls on his fellow House Republicans. Republicans must answer: Do they want an ethically unfit person to be their majority leader, or do they want to remove the ethical cloud that hangs over the Capitol?"

This week’s action by the ethics committee focused on DeLay’s use of the Federal Aviation Administration to track down Texas Democratic lawmakers who had fled the state during a redistricting fight and for appearing to give contributors special access on pending energy legislation. In the redistricting scandal, DeLay engineered a bitterly contested mid-decade redistricting of Texas congressional seats that Republicans hope can translate into a gain of as many as seven additional seats for the party on Election Day. Last week, the ethics panel admonished DeLay for pressuring Michigan Republican Nick Smith to vote for the Medicare prescription-drug bill. The committee said DeLay offered to endorse Smith’s son in a congressional primary in exchange for Smith’s vote.

  • Lou Dubose, author of a new political biography on Tom Delay called "The Hammer: Tom Delay, God, Money and the United States Congress." Dubose is the former editor of the Texas Observer for 11 years and co-author, with Molly Ivins of "Bushwhacked" and "Shrub".

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: As we stay on the issue of politics, Congressional Democrats and government watch groups are stepping up their calls for house majority leader Tom Delay of Texas to resign his post as majority leader. On Wednesday the bipartisan House Ethics Committee admonished the powerful Republican lawmaker for failing to carry out his duties in a forthright and ethical manner. It was The Committee’s second admonishment of Delay in a week. Several other ethics complaints against Delay are still pending before The Ethics Committee, the Department of Justice, the Federal Elections Commission, and an Austin, Texas Grand Jury. We turn now to Lou Dubose. We only have a few minutes. He is author of a new political biography of Delay, The Hammer: Tom Delay, God, Money, and the United States Congress. Lou Dubose, can you tell us the significance of the pressure on Delay right now and what you believe is going to happen to him and what he’s done?

LOU DUBOSE: I think it’s substantial. The Ethics Committee is relatively toothless. It rarely acts. The only thing it’s done over the past several years, where its been a truce, (where democrats won’t file against Republicans if Republicans don’t file against Democrats) is file —- this is the third time for Tom Delay—-This is his third strike. What he has done is push the envelope in every way on funding. This case, you know, there was $25,000 from a Kansas corporation sent to him in Texas because he is the Majority Leader and because they said we want a seat at the table at the Energy Bill. Then he went and played golf with —- at a golf tournament hosted by these guys. In Texas, that’s one. The other is when the democrats fled the state to break a quorum last year. Tom Delay called the F.A.A., he pressured the F.A.A. to track down the plane of the of the former majority leader of the house here, former speaker of the house, who was flying out of the state, implying that the plane was lost. Using, taking a government action to, for political purposes. In 1999, the last time they did it, he ordered a lobbyist fired because he was a Democrat and he didn’t want to have a Democratic lobbyist representing a trade group—-any trade group. And he pulled a bill from the floor of the house to stop them, to protest the fact that the trade association wouldn’t fire him.

JUAN GONZALEZ: But at the same time yesterday, he held a press conference after the results of the investigation, he said he’d been vindicated by the ethics committee and he considered it a victory. Can you explain that?

LOU DUBOSE: I can’t explain that, Juan. That is an odd victory. You know, he was not vindicated. The ethics committee rarely acts, it’s toothless and didn’t act on all the charges, but it did. You know, here in Texas three of his closest associates are indicted for fund raising in a pact that he put together himself and eight corporations are indicted along with him for making political contributions. These guys are indicted for giving political contributions that were illegal. They were corporate contributions. You don’t even have to use the journalistic C.Y.A. word of alleged because they raised corporate money and its illegal to raise corporate money in Texas. You know, also in Washington, you know, Jack Abramoff and

AMY GOODMAN: We have five seconds.

LOU DUBOSE: Mike Scanlon, two of his closest associates are under investigation for $66 million bilking and billing of Indian tribes. It is an accumulated weighted scandal here.

AMY GOODMAN: Lou Dubose, I want to thank you for being with us. Author of The Hammer: Tom Delay, God, Money, and the United States Congress.

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