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One surreal element to

One surreal element to the drama over the DeLay Rule is that practically every member of the Republican House caucus is arguing that Ronnie Earle's grand jury investigation into the DeLay Machine is so dubious on its face that it is presumptively partisan and illegitimate in nature.

Meanwhile, while that's going on, and Rep. DeLay is volubly proclaiming vindication, on the other end of the Capitol you've got the hearings into the rapidly expanding 'Indian gaming' scandal in which two chief capos in the DeLay Machine have had to take the fifth on every question they're asked.

(Actually, it might be better to say 'soldiers' than 'capos'. I don't have my org chart in front of me.)

For some insights into what the scandal's about, see this article by Lou Dubose in the Texas Observer. And for helpful running commentary on the matter, stop by our friend Marshall Wittman's BullMoose blog. Finally, for a good primer on how the DeLay Machine works, see this article by Nick Confessore.

House Ethics Committee round-up

House Ethics Committee round-up ...

There are five Republicans on the Ethics Committee (and five Dems).

Of those, Chairman Joel Hefley of Colorado is in the Shays Handful. He voted against the DeLay Rule. Missouri's Kenny Hulshof is in there too.

Ohio's Steven LaTourette is telling constituents that he's in the Shays Handful; but as of yet we've seen no press reports that confirm this.

As we reported earlier today, Illinois Congresswoman Judy Biggert seems to be hanging tough with the 'private vote' line, refusing to say how she voted.

We had Washington state's Doc Hastings down as a letter-writer. But late this afternoon we received word that a Hastings staffer told at least one constituent that Hastings supported the DeLay Vote but wouldn't reveal how he voted because it was a 'secret' vote. (I guess he sort of wanted to mix up the categories a bit.) If anyone hears more on Hastings, let us know.

Washington states Doc Hastings

Washington state's Doc Hastings is not only a member of the House Ethics Committee. We had him down as a letter-writer. But now we're hearing that while he won't disclose how he voted because it was a 'secret' vote that he does support the DeLay Rule.

If other Hastings constituents have gotten a clearer word, please let us know.

As of yet, we haven't seen any press reportage about how Hastings voted.

Couldnt make it.Illinois Congressman

Couldn't make it.

Illinois Congressman John Shimkus couldn't make it to the GOP House caucus meeting. So he didn't vote on the DeLay Rule.

His staff is telling constituents that he he has no position on the matter.

So far, there seems to be no press reportage on Shimkus and the DeLay Rule.

We had Michigans Joe

We had Michigan's Joe Knollenberg down as a letter-writer. But now we've heard from two constituents who tell us that under determined questioning, Rep. Knollenberg's staff concedes that he did vote for the DeLay Rule. So far, we've seen no press reportage about how Knollenberg voted. But we'll let you know if we see any.

Also of interest is

Also of interest is this list of GOP House members who got money from Rep. Tom DeLay last cycle (actually from his 'leadership PAC' ARMPAC) and how much they got.

From Rep. DeLays pro-DeLay

From Rep. DeLay's pro-DeLay Rule press <$NoAd$>conference this morning ...

Tom DeLay: Thank you, Henry. That's touching and I appreciate it.

By the Ethics Committee's action yesterday, they confirmed Chris Bell's utter contempt for Congress. And by continuing their announced strategy to forego the battle of ideas and instead personally attack Republican leaders, the Democrat Party has confirmed its utter contempt for the boundaries of political discourse. DELAY: Yesterday, the bipartisan House Ethics Committee found Representative Chris Bell, Democrat of Texas, in direct violation of rules for his part in a premeditated, partisan and malicious campaign to undermine the majority and the integrity of the House of Representatives.

Mr. Bell's libelous complaint against me, which the committee disposed of on a unanimous, bipartisan basis, without finding me in violation of any rule, has resulted in that same bipartisan committee finding Mr. Bell guilty of nine separate counts of rule violations.

The committee found, as we have always held, that Mr. Bell's complaint contained inflammatory language, exaggerated charges and serious misstatements on both fact and the law.

He acted out of anger at losing his seat in Congress, blamed everyone but himself for his loss, and turned his obsessive rage on me. In other words, Mr. Bell has been exposed for the partisan stalker that he is.

I understand the Democrat Party's adjustment to their national minority status is frustrating, but their crushing defeat in the elections earlier this month, after two more years of Democrat obstruction and vicious personal attacks, should show them that the American people are tired of the politics of personal destruction.

It is a shame that Democrat anger at their loss of power has manifested itself in contemptible behavior like Mr. Bell's, but hopefully the Ethics Committee's nine-count, categorical, bipartisan rebuke will finally end Democrats' obsessive desire to undo the last six national elections.

Later, after praise from various House colleagues (Blackburn, Bonilla, Carter, Doolittle, Dreier and Linder), Rep. DeLay took questions ...

QUESTION: Mr. DeLay, six weeks ago, when the Ethics Committee sent you a letter, some of the same members standing up here said that the committee had been influenced by partisan pressures and that it was inaccurate in finding against you. Now we see everybody saying it's bipartisan and it's accurate in this nine-count, as you say, rebuke of Mr. Bell.

What's happened in six weeks?

DELAY: First of all, your question, frankly, shows the problem here. I think there's a double standard in the media that has been going on here.

The only two members of the House of Representatives that I know of right now that have actually violated the law is Nancy Pelosi and Jim McDermott.

Your question insinuates that I had a sanction brought against me in that letter. In that letter, if you took time to read it, you would see that all the charges -- the frivolous charges that is in this letter against Chris Bell were dismissed by the bipartisan committee. And all that the committee said was a mild warning about fund-raising activities and using government resources, a warning that is not a sanction in the House rules nor the rules of the Ethics Committee.

In this case, in this letter, the Ethics Committee has stated -- and I can't find the quote right now -- but it has stated unequivocally that Mr. Bell has violated the rules of the House. He has violated the rules of the Ethics Committee -- actual violations.

There has not been one story about Nancy Pelosi or Jim McDermott that I know of; certainly not on the front page of the New York Times or The Washington Post. And I bet you this story isn't going to find its way on the front pages of the New York Times or The Washington Post.

The point here is, is this is a concerted strategy announced in September a year ago by the Democrats that they were going to do these things. They were proud of it. And in March they even said they were going to neuter DeLay and announced it publicly, and yet it got little or no coverage.

DELAY: The point is I'm just demanding the same treatment that I have received for the last two and a half years in this case.

First, I ask that you write the facts. And the facts are that the Ethics Committee dismissed all these frivolous charges that they are now rebuking Chris Bell about.

The facts are, I have not been indicted in Austin, Texas. And the facts are the indictments that have been brought by this partisan D.A. in Austin, Texas, against three of my associates are frivolous. And if you'd spend any time at all and read the one-sentence indictment, you would see so and understand it.

This is a process of politics of personal destruction. It's quite obvious. And now the Ethics Committee has said so.

QUESTION: You've been admonished three times by the Ethics Committee. You were admonished in the (OFF-MIKE) and now this. Are you saying admonishment doesn't (OFF-MIKE)?

DELAY: Admonishment is no different than letters that we get from the Ethics Committee when all of us write to the Ethics Committee to make a decision as to an action we're about to take, whether it is within the rules or not.

Admonishment is not a sanction of the House rules, although you treat it like it is. It is not a sanction. And it is a mild warning about -- and if you read the letters -- about impression.

It has nothing to do with admonishment of violating the House rules. There has been no violation of the House rules. And all the committee said was, "You ought to take a look at when you go to fund- raisers when legislation is pending and you ought to take a look at how you interface with government entities in trying to answer questions for your constituents."

QUESTION: Mr. Leader, you singled out that the Democrat leader, Nancy Pelosi, by name here. First of all, do you see her as behind some of these -- what you see as attacks against you?

And second of all, how does this bode for the next Congress? Can you even work with Nancy Pelosi? You basically called her a criminal. You said she's violated the law.

DELAY: She has violated the law. It's in the facts. The facts are she violated federal law. Jim McDermott has violated federal law. And yet no one seems to run to write anything about that.

And the point is is that I don't know if she's in collusion or not. That's a question you ought to ask her.

But it's quite obvious to me, particularly when the NRCC, which she is the head of -- and she's the minority leader, she's responsible for everything that goes on in the Democrat Caucus -- DCCC, I'm sorry. DCCC.


Right. Yes.


QUESTION: Can you work with her?

DELAY: Of course, I can work with her. I can work with anyone that wants to help us with America's agenda.

And I have been focused on -- and, as Mr. Dreier said, we are finishing an incredibly productive 108th Congress. We're very proud of what we've been able to do. And we're looking forward to even a bolder 109th Congress. And we will work with anyone -- any willing coalition that we can put together to accomplish the people's business.

QUESTION: Why do you not (OFF-MIKE) against her?

DELAY: I have never participated in this politics of personal destruction. I think it's detrimental to the institution and to both Democrats and Republicans in the institution. It looks bad for all of us. And so I've never done it.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) violated federal law leading the other party, why not? Isn't that a case where you should go ahead and push a case?

DELAY: That's not for me to say. I don't like getting involved in those kinds of things. I like doing the people's business and accomplishing their agenda.

QUESTION: Do you think that Chris Bell should pay your court fees or your legal fees?

DELAY: Well, I think Mr. Bonilla and Mr. Carter have raised an interesting question.

If Mr. Bell is as ethical as he claims to be, then that would be the only right thing to do.

Thank you.

Tom DeLay, all he asks for is a level playing field, a fair shake.

I know the most

I know the most probable immediate beneficiary of such a change would likely be California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. But I'm coming around to the view -- expressed today by (foreing-born) former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright -- that naturalized American citizens should be eligible to run for president.

Certainly, a long period of citizenship should be required -- perhaps twenty or twenty-five years. But this is a nation of immigrants. And with the great surge of immigration in recent decades, this provision of the constitution leaves a substantial minority of American citizens permanently ineligible to serve in the highest office in the land. That is increasingly difficult to justify.