The DeLay Rule was actually not a rule but a rule-bending — whereas once the GOP prohibited anyone indicted of a felony from serving in a leadership position, the DeLay Rule allowed them to do so until the day they were convicted.
The vote on the rule was done behind closed doors; thankfully, constituents wrote to their representatives demanding to know where they stood on the issue. Three GOP members of the Ethics Committee wrote back, and we have letters from two.
Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Hastings (R-WA) voted for the DeLay rule. Several TPM readers who received his explanation sent word that Hastings had spun his support with some grandiloquent argument:
In the American criminal justice system, individuals who are indicted by grand juries are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The previous Republican Conference rule turned this pillar of justice upside down for Members of Congress.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) was steadfast for letting indictees lead the party. “In America we believe a person is innocent until proven guilty,” he wrote, “and we have changed the House Republican rules to reflect that right.”
Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), though, appears to have been against the DeLay rule. “In the event that any member is charged in a felony indictment, he or she must focus total energy on proving his or her innocence,” she wrote.
The difference between the Biggert and the others? For starters, Cole got $15,000 from DeLay’s ARMPAC, and kicked back $5000 for DeLay’s legal defense fund. Hastings got $6,000 — and DeLay’s assistance grabbing the Ethics chair.
Biggert meanwhile got a mere $1,700 from DeLay, although he campaigned with her in 1998.
You get what you pay for?