It’s tough to tell the scandals apart without a program, so here you go….
Meet Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), the man Republicans have chosen as their Majority Leader in the House of Representatives.
Tom DeLay is at the center of a bewildering array of investigations into corruption, abuse of power, and ethics violations.
As the courts and committees investigate DeLay’s misdeeds and hand down indictments, keeping track of all the scandals can be a full-time job. So we thought it would helpful to offer folks this quick and easy guide.
The Westar Scandal
In 2002, executives at Kansas energy company Westar wrote a memo outlining how they could purchase a “seat at the table” with $56,500 in contributions to political committees associated with Tom DeLay and the GOP. DeLay was later admonished by the House Ethics Committee for creating the appearance of impropriety.
The House Medicare Vote Bribery Scandal
Tom DeLay and the Republican leadership kept open the vote for the Medicare bill for three hours — long past the 15 minutes specified in House procedures — in order to pressure Republicans to vote for the bill. Rep. Nick Smith (R-MI) said GOP leaders offered “bribes and special deals,” leading to an investigation by the Ethics Committee, which admonished DeLay.
The Texas Redistricting Scandal
When DeLay and his fellow Republicans were redrawing the Congressional districts in Texas to push Democrats out of the House, he used the Federal Aviation Administration to try and track a plane containing Democratic state legislators. The House Ethics Committee investigated DeLay’s actions and once again admonished him.
The K Street Scandal
Tom DeLay has pushed lobbying firms to deny jobs to Democrats, and hire only Republicans, resulting in another Ethics Committee admonishment for inappropriately pushing a lobbying firm to hire a former GOP congressman. DeLay has pressured GOP lobbyists to make contributions to Republican candidates and the RNC.
The TRMPAC Scandal
In Texas, it’s illegal for corporations to make donations to fund political campaigns. So Tom DeLay’s Texans for a Republican Majority political action committee (TRMPAC) took $190,000 in corporate contributions and funneled them to the RNC, which then donated exactly $190,000 to TRMPAC-supported candidates. DeLay and TRMPAC are currently under investigation by a grand jury.
The Travel Scandal
An investigation by the Justice Department showed that Tom DeLay accepted a trip financed by the Korea-U.S. Exchange Council, breaking House rules that prohibit accepting travel expenses from “a registered lobbyist or agent of a foreign principal.”
The Ethics Committee Scandal
Knowing that he faced investigation for a growing pile of scandals, Tom DeLay and the GOP House leadership purged the Ethics Committee of Republicans — including Chairman Joel Hefley (R-CO) — who weren’t willing to overlook charges against DeLay, replacing them with members loyal to the leadership. They then changed the Committee rules to make it more difficult to begin investigations. Democrats on the Committee have refused to take any action in protest until the rules are restored.