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Sunday, October 31, 2004

Dirty dealings by the Republican Majority Leader

"House Majority leader Tom DeLay is not a physically imposing man. 'Five-foot-seven if he's wearing high heels,' in the words of Fort Bend County sheriff Milton Wright, whom DeLay once spent $70,000 to defeat in an election because the sheriff had hired a woman whose husband had sued DeLay. Yet in the decade since Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives, the former exterminator from suburban Houston has achieved the political stature of the historical giants in Statuary Hall outside his Capitol office. He did it on his own, consolidating his political power and using it with a remarkable sense of purpose.

DeLay's rapid ascent has been the result of more than hard work and a keen understanding of politics. He became majority whip and then majority leader by raising massive sums of money -- a total of $12.6 million between 2000 and 2002 alone -- and by strategically spending it on Republican candidates, in effect buying the loyalty of his colleagues. He has domesticated K Street, demanding loyalty and contributions from lobbyists in return for favorable treatment. And all along the way, he has strained, reinterpreted, and sometimes simply side-stepped ethics regulations in Washington and even in his home state of Texas, which has some of the nation's loosest campaign finance laws.

Now, three separate sets of state and federal investigators are looking into whether DeLay and his associates may have finally crossed the line. They are trying to determine how the majority leader's interlocking political action committees (PACs) work in concert with his protégés in the lobbying industry -- a fundraising apparatus the Washington press corps refers to as "DeLay Inc." They are also considering allegations that this elaborate operation broke state and federal laws -- allegations that have prompted DeLay to hire criminal defense attorneys and raise money for a legal defense fund.

-Lou Dubose, "Justice DeLayed"

Full story here.


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