Wednesday, May 04, 2005
As Larry Margasak of the Associated Press reports, two members of the House Ethics Committee are recusing themselves from any investigation of ethical violations by House Majority leader Tom DeLay of Texas because they contributed to his legal defense fund.
The Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Doc Hastings, said that the two representatives - Tom Cole of Oklahoma and Lamar Smith of Texas - believed that their contributions to DeLay's defense fund "raised doubts however unwarranted about whether those members would be able to judge fairly allegations of impropriety against Mr. DeLay."
However unwarranted, eh? Well, how about the $15,000 DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority political action committee (ARMPAC) has given to Cole? Or the $20 ARMPAC has given to Smith? Or the $8,930 ARMPAC has given to Hastings? Not to mention the untold contributions from corporate PACs or wealthy fatcats to those candidates made at DeLay's request? Any of that warrant enough?
And speaking of warrants, it came out today that Jack Abramoff, notorious mover and shaker-down of Indian tribes, had personally paid for trips for two Democrats and two DeLay aides to the Marianas Islands when he was a lobbyist for the Marianas. House ethics rules forbid lobbyists from paying for travel expenses for elected officials or staffers.
So, with today's recusals, is DeLay's free ride over? Hardly. Chairman Hastings will select two replacements from a pool of ten Democrats and ten Republicans to fill the vacant slots. We'll be watching to determine just how much loyalty the Hammer's generosity buys; whether the ethical stand-ins have the same ties and allegiance to DeLay.