Majority Leader DeLay In Hot Water

Tom DeLay has been rebuked by the house ethics panel for the second time in a week. The panel, comprised of five Republicans and five Democrats, has stated that DeLay's conduct will be viewed carefully and that continued conduct in this manner would not go unnoticed:

It was an extraordinary second rebuke by the committee in six days for one of the nation's most partisan political leaders and most successful money-raisers.

The committee, which has authority to recommend more severe punishment up to expulsion, spared DeLay from a lengthy investigation by delivering its mildest punishment. But it did warn the Texas Republican, long known in the Capitol as "The Hammer," to shape up.

Citing "the number of instances to date" that it has commented on DeLay's conduct, the panel told DeLay "it is clearly necessary for you to temper your future actions to assure that you are in full compliance ... with ... House rules and standards of conduct."

The committee of five Democrats and five Republicans reached no conclusions on an allegation that DeLay violated Texas campaign finance rules. Instead, the panel delayed action pending an investigation by state authorities. Three DeLay associates were indicted last month in that probe.

DeLay said he considered the complaint against him dismissed, but accepted the committee's findings.

"For years, Democrats have hurled relentless personal attacks at me, hoping to tie my hands and smear my name. All have fallen short, not because of insufficient venom, but because of insufficient merit."

The panel wrote DeLay that his conduct "created an appearance" of favoritism when he mingled at a 2003 golf outing with an energy company's executives, just days after they contributed to a political organization associated with DeLay. The Kansas firm, Westar Energy, was seeking help with legislation then at a critical stage of House-Senate negotiations.

DeLay also raised "serious concerns" by contacting the Federal Aviation Administration to help locate Democratic lawmakers, who were fleeing Texas in an effort to thwart state Republican legislators from passing a DeLay engineered redistricting plan.

However, the committee made clear that DeLay did not actually solicit contributions from Westar in return for a favor — an act that would have been far more serious than an appearance of conflict.

"Representative DeLay took no action with regard to Westar that would constitute an impermissible special favor," according to the report adopted by the panel and prepared by Chairman Joel Hefley, R-Colo. and senior Democrat Alan Mollohan of West Virginia.

DeLay's attorney, former Republican Congressman Ed Bethune, said, "There are no charges pending against Tom DeLay anywhere by anybody. There is no special counsel going to be appointed, there is no investigative subcommittee to be appointed. There is no further action to be taken. There are no sanctions."

...DeLay told the committee — in explaining his conduct — that he was working to advance his party's legislative agenda, but that didn't sway the panel.

"The fact that a violation results from the overaggressive pursuit of one's legislative agenda simply does not constitute a mitigating factor," the panel said.

The committee's admonishment — expressed in the letter to DeLay and a report criticizing his ethical lapses — nonetheless spared him a lengthy investigation by the ethics panel.

While Democrats and government watchdog groups have unleashed a stream of criticism of DeLay's conduct, the findings are unlikely to derail his ability to push the Republican agenda through the House if the Republicans retain control in November.

DeLay is a real piece of work and this just proves how low down people in Washington can get. Specifically, I'd point to the Republicans, cause I'm not sure the last time a Democrat was accused of such actions. His redistricting plans in Texas have been a story for years and yet somehow he still gets away with it. Utterly amazing.
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