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.
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.
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.
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.
DeLay goes on the offensive, claims Ethics Committee vindication.
Minnesota's Gil Gutknecht couldn't make it to the caucus meeting to vote on the DeLay Rule. But now he wants in to the Shays Handful after the fact. So says the local paper, the Post-Bulletin (subscription required).
But, according to the quote he gave the paper, he still manages to be for delay.
"I thought it was an enormous mistake to draw more attention to this issue. I think we are far better off dealing with it if and when ... I don't think it serves any constructive purpose to highlight an issue that may never become an issue. If it does become an issue we're going to have to deal with it, if it's Mr. DeLay or whoever."
Kevin Drum and Mark Kleiman have a good point about Travis County DA Ronnie Earle.
In case you hadn't noticed, the voice of inter-generational brainiac conservatism has spoken.
Jon Podhoretz in the New York Post: thumbs down on the DeLay Rule.
Congresswoman Judy Biggert is a Republican member of the House Ethics Committee, which handed out those multiple admonishments to Rep. Tom DeLay. And there's been a lot of constituent interest in how she voted on the DeLay Rule. For the moment, according to constituent calls placed with her office this morning, Biggert seems to be hanging tough with the 'private vote' line, but leaving open the option of becoming a letter-writer.
Late Word: New Jersey's Jim Saxton comes out of the 'private vote' category. As of this morning, he's a letter-writer.
However, constituents who've spoken this morning to members of Saxton's staff got the impression that the Saxton letter may say that it was a 'private vote' and not reveal how he voted.
We'll bring you more information on Saxton when we receive it; or perhaps we'll just need to come up with a more granular set of categories.
Letter-writers no more!
It seems like three of those congressmen from Upstate New York could run but they could not hide.
According to this morning's Post-Standard, James Walsh, Sherry Boehlert and John McHugh each support the DeLay Rule, though Boelhert and McHugh managed not to attend the meeting where the vote took place.
Boelhert was at Bethesda Naval Medical Center getting a follow-up check-up tied to heart surgery from last September and McHugh was at another meeting. But when pressed on the matter, both said they supported it. James Walsh was there in the flesh and gave the thumbs up in person.
See the article for the details.