Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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Bob Novak on the DeLay Rule .<$NoAd$>..

The closed-door meeting of House Republicans Wednesday that was supposed to quickly protect House Majority Leader Tom DeLay from a political indictment turned into a contentious debate lasting several hours. Rep. Rob Portman of Ohio, the appointed chairman of the House Republican Leadership, came up with a compromise that won assent.

The original proposal would have simply repealed the 1993 Republican rule requiring the resignation from the House party leadership of any member who is criminally indicted. The Portman compromise sets up a review by the House Republican Steering Committee of each case.

The change in the rule was inspired by the prospect that Democratic District Atty. Ronnie Earle in Austin, Texas, may soon indict DeLay in connection with his successful congressional redistricting in Texas. At Wednesday's conference, several Republican House members expressed fear that a straight repeal of the rule would send a bad political message.

I don't know who's on the House Republican Steering Committee in the next congress. But if I'm not mistaken, it's automatically chaired by the Speaker of the House, Denny Hastert, and comprised of members chosen by the leadership. And since Hastert works for DeLay (not on paper, but ...) and DeLay chooses who's on that committee, I doubt he's got too much to be worried about.

Michigan's Dave Camp voted for the DeLay Rule.

But he tells the local paper that he'd recommend dethroning any caucus leader indicted on a "legitimate charge" rather than the politically motivated type coming from the likes of DA Ronnie Earle.

Camp's statement came after the Midland Daily News asked Camp's spokesman for comment on the DeLay Rule and how Camp voted.

Tom DeLay, New Jersey's Mike Ferguson's got your back.

After a bit of hemming and hawing, Ferguson staffers have told a number of TPM reader-constituents that Ferguson voted for the DeLay Rule.

Maybe the $10,000 he got from DeLay's leadership PAC helped put the issue in a clearer light.

Late Update: Contrary to the number I noted above, the list of ARMPAC giving at the Campaign for America's Future (CAF) website lists Ferguson as the single biggest recipient of DeLay largesse in the entire congress -- clocking in at a whopping $42,403. You might say he got the largest largesse. Looking at the CAF chart, I'm not sure what explains the discrepancy between this number and that provided by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), which I listed above. The CRP number is for the 2004 giving cycle. So I assume the $42,403 includes the previous two cycles Ferguson ran in (2000 and 2002). In any case, no wonder Mike Ferguson's got DeLay's back. He's already in the guy's pocket so it's not far to travel.

It seems that Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde couldn't make it to the House GOP caucus meeting to vote up or down on the DeLay Rule. No definitive word yet on whether he supports the rule or not.

The same goes for California's Richard Pombo. Pombo staffers are telling constituents he couldn't make it to the meeting either. No one can find out if he has a position on the DeLay Rule.

Rush Limbaugh's hometown congresswoman coming out against the DeLay Rule?

The Southeast Missourian seems to be saying that Jo Ann Emerson is in the Shays Handful.

Here's the update they put up this evening ...

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay would retain his leadership post even if indicted by a Texas prosecutor under a GOP rule change opposed by a minority of Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson of Cape Girardeau.

"I think that it sets a bad example," Emerson said today from Capitol Hill. "I just don't think that it passes the smell test."

For more on this story, read Saturday's Southeast Missourian.

We'll stand by for the big news in <$NoAd$> tomorrow's paper.

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 ...

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 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.