Tom Delay’s “Punishment”

As usual, the bad news is snuck out under cover of a much larger story.

While the Vice Presidents were getting ready to debate, and all the focus was on them, a news story came out that the House of Representatives “admonished” Tom Delay for bribery — yes, BRIBERY — in the Medicare scandal of last Fall. And, while members of the House question how much damage Delay can do to the Republican party, it was revealed that the ethics committee is investigating ANOTHER charge against him.

Martha Stewart can go to jail for lying under oath, but Delay gets a tap on the wrist for bribery, coercion, and moneylaundering.

Article archived here.Rebuked House Leader Draws Support, Concern

By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Top Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives voiced confidence on Tuesday in Majority Leader Tom DeLay, but some lawmakers said privately they fear his ethical woes may increase, hurting both him and them.

The House ethics committee last week admonished the Texas Republican for offering to endorse a lawmaker’s son in return for a vote last year for a Medicare prescription drug bill.

The panel is now reviewing an unrelated ethics complaint against DeLay, and may soon decide what, if any, action to take.

“I don’t think (Republican) members have lost any confidence in Tom DeLay,” Rep. Deborah Pryce of Ohio, head of the House Republican Conference, said in a brief interview.

“Tom is one of our most important leaders,” said House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican.

Yet one veteran House Republican, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said: “A cloud is hanging over the House. Members are concerned about the image of the House.”

“Several members are concerned … that Tom DeLay could become a bigger target for Democrats” in their quest to win back the House, another House Republican said.

The ethics committee, with five Democrats and five Republicans, admonished DeLay for a case dating back to last November when Republicans scrambled to win passage of the White House-backed Medicare prescription drug bill.

The panel said it was improper for DeLay to have offered to endorse the son of Rep. Nick Smith, a Michigan Republican, in a congressional race if Smith voted for the bill.

Smith ended up voting against the bill, and his son ended up losing a Republican primary to replace him in Congress.

In this case, DeLay said he accepted the committee’s “new guidance” and urged others to familiarize themselves with it.

The ethics committee is now examining an unrelated complaint filed in June by Rep. Chris Bell, a Texas Democrat.
Bell has accused DeLay of soliciting campaign donations in return for legislative favors, laundering illegal contributions and improperly using a federal agency in a partisan battle.

DeLay has denied the charges, and fellow Republicans have agreed with him that he has been a target of unfair attacks.

Asked on Tuesday if he felt his effectiveness had been undermined, DeLay shrugged no. “Do you notice our legislative agenda getting done and we’re winning (House) races?” he said.

© Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved.

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