By George I think

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By George I think we’ve got it, or him, our congressional Bamboozler of the Day: Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA).

Back in the district (Bucks County, PA, etc.) Fitzpatrick is posing as a strong clean-up-congress man. But he’s being asked why his first vote in Congress — back in January 2005 — was to loosen congressional ethics rules to cover for Tom DeLay.

His answer? He did it for Homeland Security.

From today’s Bucks County Courier Times

Murphy [who’s running for the Democratic nomination to oppose Fitzpatrick] pointed to Fitzpatrick’s first day in Congress last January when Fitzpatrick voted to loosen ethics rules in the House in a move meant to help then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

Those rules changes were later reversed in April and Fitzpatrick said last night that he only voted for them since they were part of a larger bill that included establishing a permanent Homeland Security Committee.

What Fitzpatrick is trying to hang his hat on here is that a bunch of rules were consolidated together into one vote. But Fitzpatrick was a loyal soldier for DeLay on this. There were a few Republicans who lamented the shame of this vote at the time. Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) said “We are weakening our ethics laws. I think we’ve lost our minds. The power has gotten to our heads.” Joel Hefley, who got purged from the Ethics Committee because he wouldn’t toe the DeLay line, spoke out against it too.

As near as we can tell, Rep. Fitzpatrick never uttered a peep on this one. He just made the vote like he was told.

When contacted by TPM, Fitzpatrick press secretary Jeff Urbanchuk declined comment, but assured us he’d relay our questions to the congressman and his chief of staff.

Have you heard a lamer excuse for toeing the DeLay line? If so, send it along.

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