Well, Tom DeLay has bowed out of his congressional race to spend more time with his lawyers.
But as Josh mentioned last night, DeLay's machine remains. And since the Justice Department's bribery investigation took a direct turn toward DeLay with Tony Rudy's guilty plea last week, the second former aide of DeLay's to plead guilty, one has to imagine the fallout were DeLay to eventually be indicted in a federal investigation.
You remember the media frenzy after Jack Abramoff's guilty plea in January. Dozens of members of Congress rushed to return or donate Abramoff's and his clients' money. And recently, the same has occurred with Tony Rudy, although Rudy is not a household name - so only 13 of the 34 Republicans who received contributions from him have returned them.
But imagine the predicament Republicans would find themselves in were DeLay to be indicted as part of the Justice Department's investigation. Fundraising was DeLay's specialty, and the main way that he kept House members in his debt. It's difficult to even calculate DeLay's impact in dollars, given how central he's been to the Republican money machine (appearing at others' fundraisers, directed corporate dollars to the GOP), but at the least, one would have to look at DeLay's political committee, Americans for a Republican Majority, which he's used to spread money around to hundreds of Republican House candidates since 1996.
$3.47 million of ARMPAC's money has gone directly to Republican candidates since '96. And to over 100 members of the current Congress, usually in $10,000 payments.
So here's something to watch - here's a list of the GOP candidates who received money from DeLay in '04. How long will they hold on to it? Tony Rudy's guilty plea implicated another former DeLay aide, Ed Buckham, who used to run ARMPAC. Jim Ellis, another former head of ARMPAC, has already been indicted in Texas for laundering corporate contributions down there, along with DeLay himself. How many former leaders of ARMPAC and others connected with DeLay have to go down before ARMPAC money is finally seen as tainted?