Thursday, April 21, 2005

Suddenly There's No Delay For the Ethics Guys

Republicans on the House Ethics Committee must be feeling the heat. They're suddenly willing to invvestigate ethics charges against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay -- even as more accusations of shady deals popped up in two major papers today.

But Democrats are holding up the probe. They want the Ethics Committee put back in order before any investigation starts.

The Committee went through a major overhaul at the beginning of this Congress -- all designed to protect Rep DeLay's position in the House. The Chairman got a pink slip and the panel was packed with Congress members who'd taken payments for Rep DeLay's PACs. Then the GOP leadership curtailed the Committee's ability to investigate Congressmen.

Today both the Houston Chronicle and New York Times ran articles detailing Rep DeLay's dealings.

The Chronicle reports that donors to Rep DeLay's PAC got skybox seats to hear the Three Tenors. The tickets for the show were provided by lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The concert payoff came the same month that the Representative was taking a $50,000 trip to Great Britain on Mr Abramoff's dime.

Meanwhile, the Times has gotten its hands on a donor list to Rep DeLay's children's charity -- the DeLay Foundation for Kids. The chairty's been around for 19 years, but has kept its donor list secret.

Rep DeLay claimed that was to protect donor privacy.

But the list shows donors include big corporations who routinely lobby Congress. Among the checks the Times checked out:

  • $100,000 from federal prison manager Corrections Corporation of Nashville
  • $50,000 from AT&T
  • $50,000 from Exxon Mobil
This charity, by the way, has no fancy offices. It operates out of a PO Box and Rep DeLay's home in Texas.

And where's that money going? The Times found building permits for the charity. The biggest single project was a $7 million dollar complex. The contractor is Bob Perry. Sound familiar? He's the guy who put up the seed money for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth -- the anti-Kerry crew who ran independent ads in the 2004 election.

[Crossposted at]

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