The Republican majority leader in the House of Representatives, Cong. Tom DeLay of Texas, and I agree on one issue dear to his mind and heart. We do not want him to resign from Congress in the midst of deepening scandal surrounding his aggressive political and fundraising activities.
Stay put, Tom. The Republican Party needs you a whole lot longer so that the media can expands its coverage of the Party's corrupt rule on Capitol Hill and its dancing with corporate lobbyists bent on greed and harm to the interests of the people.
Tom DeLay came to Congress in 1984 because he was outraged at environmental regulations that applied to his pest extermination business. He rose up the ladder because he would do things and say things that other Republicans shied away from. He was a ruthless arm twister and soon earned the name "The Hammer."
In a page one story a few years ago, The Washington Post described how K Street corporate influence-peddlers would shudder at the prospect of visiting his office because he would demand campaign contributions, while discussing their agendas, in too direct a manner. Companies like a little subtlety and indirection attached to their buying our national legislators. DeLay came across as an abrupt shakedown-artist, a cash-register political extortionist.
The Post's expose didn't make DeLay skip a beat. Soon thereafter, he was demanding from Washington's numerous trade associations that if they did not dump their managers, who were Democrats, and replace them with Republicans, they would not be very welcome when it came to give them a hearing. He got his way quite often on this unprecedented interference.
Like other arrogant politicians, before him, who became inebriated with their own power and capacity to corral large amounts of campaign riches and hand it out to expand their sway, DeLay outpaced them with his brazenness. He began to enrich his former staffers who would set up lobbying firms in Washington representing corporations that wanted DeLay to help give their lucrative clients more privileges and immunities, more government contracts and appointments at high levels in the Executive Branch.
DeLay became the House dictator, shutting down dissent, twisting or changing House rules to seal off the Democrats in House committees and conference committees with the Senate on crucial legislation. He finally dumped his own Republican Ethics Chair, Cong. Joel Hefley, after the evenly divided House Ethics Committee reprimanded DeLay on three occasions.
While stacking the Ethics Committee, he pushed through the House Republican Conference, a rule that the Party's congressional leaders could keep their leadership positions even if they were under indictment for a crime. The ensuing political uproar against DeLay led to a reversal of the rule, but he kept one intact that requires a vote by one Republican on the House Ethics Committee to initiate an investigation of an ethics violation charge.
Although DeLay has been caught taking junkets and campaign money in Washington that violate House rules or the campaign laws themselves, "The Hammer" is most worried about a Travis County District Attorney by the name of Ronnie Earle. Earle, a Democrat, who prosecutes Democrats, turned his attention to the DeLay crowd during the notorious Delay-led drive to take control of the state legislature and thereby redraw Congressional Districts to defeat six incumbent Democrats. DeLay believes that redistricting lets politicians pick the voters rather than reverse the process.
Big money was collected from corporations through a maze of routes that found their way into the 2002 state elections in Texas. Such corporate money cannot be spent in political campaigns in that state. Earle has already indicted eight corporations and three politicos described by the press as part of "DeLay's network in Washington, D.C."
More indictments are expected later this spring and DeLay fears he may be one of the indictees. His allies in the state legislature are trying to cut the D.A.'s budget or even enact legislation to take the case away from him. That would really generate a huge backlash.
Meanwhile, DeLay has asked fellow Republicans and admiring corporations, like R.J. Reynolds and Reliant Energy, to expand his legal defense fund. However, he has had to return some of the money that came from registered lobbyists because such contributions violate House ethics regulations.
As more incriminating evidence pours out from Washington to Texas, Cris Feldman, one of the plaintiff's attorneys in a civil case, told National Public Radio reporter Wade Goodwyn, "Tom DeLay was up to his eyeballs in it. It was Tom DeLay's people, all the way down to his daughter, helping to run Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee (TRMPAC)."
DeLay claims all this is a rumor and innuendo. Ok, Tom, more time and evidence are needed for more law enforcement and more implications of Republicans and grasping corporate lobbyists until a critical mass is reached.
DeLay can become the garb of the Republican Party's greed and power, the poster man for millions of Americans to turn against in disgust and give the House of Representatives back to the Democrats in 2006. Who needs Howard Dean when the Democrats have Tom DeLay-so long as he stays on the job and does not cut and run too soon.