WASHINGTON -- April 12 -- Common Cause applauds Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) for being the first Republican member of Congress to call for Rep. Tom DeLay's (R-TX) resignation as majority leader.
"Tom's conduct is hurting the Republican Party, is hurting this Republican majority and it is hurting any Republican who is up for re-election," Shays told The Associated Press on Sunday. "My party is going to have to decide whether we are going to continue to make excuses for Tom to the detriment of Republicans seeking election."
Shays also told a town hall forum in Connecticut that DeLay "is an absolute embarrassment to me and to the Republican Party."
Common Cause President Chellie Pingree said Shays should be commended for publicly declaring his discomfort with DeLay as majority leader. "Congressman Shays has chosen accountability and integrity over blind party loyalty and I hope his constituents recognize that," Pingree said.
There was other evidence that Republican support for the embattled DeLay may be waning. A leading conservative in Congress, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), acknowledged that DeLay has explaining to do. "I think he has to come forward and lay out what he did and why he did it and let the people then judge for themselves," Santorum said on ABC's 'This Week.'
Common Cause last year called for DeLay to step down as majority leader, citing his ethical record. DeLay has been four times admonished by the Ethics Committee since 1999 for a pattern of misbehavior ranging from threatening a trade group for not hiring a Republican as its president to creating at least the "appearance" that energy company executives received special access at a golf retreat in exchange for $25,000 in corporate contributions made to a political group affiliated with DeLay while the House was considering an energy bill. In recent weeks, new allegations have been raised and DeLay and other members of Congress took foreign junkets that were illegally paid for.
Tonight, Common Cause will host house parties throughout the country to talk about DeLay and educate citizens so they can lobby their member of Congress in support of restoring to the House a functioning Ethics Committee. The panel ceased operating last month after Democrats, led by Rep. Alan Mollohan (WV), refused to formally organize in protest of changes to ethics rules forced on the House at the beginning of the year to protect DeLay.