Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Innocence According to His Peers

...but they never let it get as far as a jury.

...The Justice Department decided last week not to bring charges against Tom DeLay, whose unethical conduct represented a modern low among Congressional leaders. The decision is a reminder that some of Washington’s worst big-money practices remain either legal or far too difficult to prosecute...

...many of Mr. DeLay’s actions remain legal only because lawmakers have chosen not to criminalize them. Mr. DeLay’s wife and daughter, for example, were paid more than $500,000 by his political action and campaign committees for “strategic guidance” and event-planning. Others in Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have put family members on the payroll...

Here's some bits of what Wikipedia is willing to post about Tom:

...GOn Oct. 3, 2005, a Grand Jury indicted Tom Delay on a felony conspiracy charge to move $190,000 in corporate donations to Republican candidates in the State Legislature in 2002.[24] On Oct. 20th 2005, Tom Delay turned himself in to the Harris County Sheriff Office, one day after an arrest warrant was issued.[24] Tom Delay was released after posting a $10,000 bond.[25]

In December 2005, the Washington Post reported that, in 1998, a group of Russian oil executives had given money to a nonprofit advocacy group run by a former DeLay staffer and funded by clients of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, in an attempt to influence DeLay's vote on an International Monetary Fund bailout of the Russian economy.[26] Associates of DeLay advisor Ed Buckham, the founder of the U.S. Family Network, said that executives from the oil firm Naftasib had offered a donation of $1,000,000 to be delivered to a Washington, D.C.-area airport in order to secure DeLay's support. On June 25, 1998, the U.S. Family Network received a $1 million check via money transferred through the London law firm James & Sarch Co. This payment was the largest single entry on U.S. Family Network's donor list. The original source of the donation was not recorded.[27] DeLay denied that the payment had influenced his vote. Naftasib denied that it had made the payment and that it had ever been represented by James & Sarch Co. The now-dissolved law firm's former partners declined to comment due to confidentiality requirements.

DeLay's involvement with the lobbying industry included a pointed effort on the part of the Republican Party to parlay the Congressional majority into dominance of K Street, the lobbying district of Washington, D.C. DeLay, Senator Rick Santorum, and Grover Norquist launched a campaign in 1995 encouraging lobbying firms to retain only Republican officials in top positions. Firms that had Democrats in positions of authority, DeLay suggested, would not be granted the ear of majority party members.

In 1999, DeLay was privately reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee after he pulled an important intellectual property rights bill off of the House floor when the Electronics Industries Alliance hired a former Democratic Congressman, Dave McCurdy.[28]

Firms initially responded to the campaign, but it waned during 2004, when the possibility of Senator John Kerry's winning the presidency gave lobbying firms some incentive to hire Democrats.[29]

DeLay has long been a strong critic of Cuban leader Fidel Castro's regime, which DeLay has called a "thugocracy", and a supporter of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. However, in April 2005, Time Magazine published a photo from a government-funded July 2003 trip to Israel, in which DeLay is seen smoking a Cuban cigar.[30] The consumption or purchase of Cuban cigars is illegal in the United States (but was, at the time, not illegal abroad). Since September 2004, the U.S. Treasury Department's enforcement of the law has been toughened to forbid consumption (smoking) or purchase of Cuban cigars by U.S. citizens anywhere in the world.[31]

During the Texas redistricting warrant controversy, several Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives fled to Oklahoma to prevent the House from establishing a quorum of members, thereby preventing the House from acting on any legislation. Although not a member of the Texas legislature, DeLay became involved, by contacting several federal agencies in order to determine the location of the missing legislators. DeLay's staff contacted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for assistance in tracking down a plane that one of the legislators was flying to Oklahoma, an action that the FAA believed to be a result of safety concerns about the aircraft.[32] A review by the U.S. Department of Transportation found that a total of thirteen FAA employees spent more than eight hours searching for the airplane.[33] Members of DeLay's staff asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to arrest the missing Democrats. The FBI dismissed Delay's and his staff's request as "wacko".[32] DeLay also contacted United States Marshal and United States Attorney's offices in Texas, as well as the Air and Marine Interdiction Coordination Center, an agency that deals with smuggling and terrorism.[34]

U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut) requested an investigation into DeLay's involvement in the requests, and asked that any White House involvement be reported. The House Ethics Committee admonished DeLay for improper use of FAA resources, and for involving federal agencies in a matter that should have been resolved by Texas authorities.[35]

DeLay called the Terri Schiavo case "one of my proudest moments in Congress."[6] DeLay made headlines for his role in helping lead federal intervention in the matter. On Palm Sunday weekend in March 2005, several days after the brain-damaged Florida woman's feeding tube was disconnected for the third time, the House met in emergency session to pass a bill allowing Schiavo's parents to petition a federal judge to review the removal of the feeding tube. DeLay called the removal of the feeding tube "an act of barbarism." DeLay faced accusations of hypocrisy from critics when the Los Angeles Times revealed that he had consented to ending life support for his father, who had been in a comatose state because of a debilitating accident in 1988.[36]

DeLay was accused of endorsing violence in the wake of a series of high-profile violent crimes and death threats against judges when he said, "The men responsible [for Terri Schiavo's death] will have to answer to their behavior." DeLay's comments came soon after the February 28, 2005, homicide of the mother and husband of Chicago Judge Joan Lefkow, and the March 11, 2005, killing of Atlanta Judge Rowland Barnes. DeLay's opponents accused him of rationalizing violence against judges when their decisions were unpopular with the public. Ralph Neas, President of People for the American Way, said that DeLay's comments were "irresponsible and could be seen by some as justifying inexcusable conduct against our courts."[37] DeLay publicly apologized for the remark after being accused of threatening the Supreme Court.
[edit] Settlement in civil suit

In early 1999, the The New Republic picked up a story, first reported by Houston-area alternative weeklies, alleging that DeLay had committed perjury during a civil lawsuit brought against him by a former business partner in 1994.

The plaintiff in that suit, Robert Blankenship, charged that DeLay and a third partner in Albo Pest Control had breached the partnership agreement by trying to force him out of the business without buying him out. Blankenship filed suit, charging DeLay and the other partner with breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, wrongful termination, and loss of corporate expectancy. While being deposed in that suit, DeLay claimed that he did not think that he was an officer or director of Albo and that he believed that he had resigned two or three years previously.[5] However, his congressional disclosure forms, including one filed subsequent to the deposition, stated that he was either president or chairman of the company between 1985 and 1994. Blankenship also alleged that Albo money had been spent on DeLay's congressional campaigns, in violation of federal and state law.

DeLay and Blankenship settled for an undisclosed sum. Blankenship's attorney said that had he known about the congressional disclosure forms, he would have referred the case to the Harris County district attorney's office for a perjury prosecution. DeLay has never been charged with a crime in connection with this case.

There are unsubstantiated rumors that DeLay may be one of the targets of the Justice Department investigation into Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff's actions.[citation needed] Abramoff allegedly provided DeLay with trips, gifts, and political donations in exchange for favors to Abramoff's lobbying clients, which included the government of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Internet gambling services, and several Native American tribes.[38] Two of DeLay's former political aides, Tony Rudy and Michael Scanlon, as well as Abramoff himself, pleaded guilty in 2006 to charges relating to the investigation. Political columnist Robert Novak reported that Abramoff "has no derogatory information about former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and is not implicating him as part of his plea bargain with federal prosecutors."[39]

According to ABC's 20/20 television program, Abramoff lobbied DeLay to stop legislation banning sex shops and sweatshops that forced employees to have abortions in the Northern Mariana Islands when Abramoff accompanied DeLay on a 1997 trip to the U.S. commonwealth. While on the trip, DeLay promised not to put the bill on the legislative calendar.[40]

In 2000, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a worker reform bill to extend the protection of U.S. labor and minimum-wage laws to the workers in the Northern Mariana Islands. DeLay, then the House Republican Whip, stopped the House from considering the bill.[41] DeLay later blocked a fact-finding mission planned by Rep. Peter Hoekstra by threatening him with the loss of his subcommittee chairmanship.[40]

DeLay received gifts from Abramoff, including paid golfing holidays to Scotland, concert tickets, and the use of Abramoff's private skyboxes for fundraisers. In May 2000, ARMPAC received the free use of one of Abramoff's private skyboxes to host a political fundraiser. At the time, campaign finance laws did not require the use of the skybox, valued at several thousand dollars, to be disclosed or for Abramoff to be reimbursed for its use.[42]

Later that month, the DeLays, Rudy, another aide, and Abramoff took a trip to London and Scotland. Abramoff paid for the airfare for the trip, and lobbyist Ed Buckham paid for expenses at a hotel at St. Andrews golf course in Scotland.[43] Abramoff was reimbursed by The National Center for Public Policy Research, the nonprofit organization that arranged the trip. On the day that the trip began, The National Center received large donations from two of Abramoff's clients, internet lottery service eLottery, Inc., and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. Both organizations denied that they had intended to pay for DeLay's trip.[44] House rules forbid members to accept travel expenses from lobbyists, and require that members inquire into the sources of funds that nonprofits use to pay for trips. DeLay denied knowing that lobbyists had paid for travel expenses. In July 2000, DeLay voted against a bill that would have restricted Internet gambling. Both eLottery and the Choctaws opposed the bill.[44] Rudy, who was then DeLay's deputy chief of staff, doomed the bill by engineering a parliamentary maneuver that required a two-thirds majority vote, rather than a simple majority, in order for the bill to pass. Rudy's actions on behalf of Abramoff's clients during this time were mentioned in Abramoff's guilty plea in January 2006.[45]

In January 2006, The Associated Press reported that in 2001, DeLay co-signed a letter to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft calling for the closure of a casino owned by the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas. Two weeks earlier, the Choctaws had donated $1,000 to DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority PAC (TRMPAC). A DeLay spokesman denied that the donations had influenced DeLay's actions.[46] Currently, and at the time of the letter, casinos or other private gambling establishments are illegal in Texas, even on Indian reservations.[47]

Scanlon, who became Abramoff's lobbying partner, pleaded guilty in November 2005 to conspiracy charges.[48] Abramoff pleaded guilty to fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy charges on January 3, 2006, and agreed to cooperate with the government's investigation. His cooperation may have forced DeLay to abandon his efforts to return to his position as House Majority Leader,[45] a decision that DeLay announced only a few days after Abramoff's plea bargain. Rudy pleaded guilty on March 31, 2006, to illegally acting on Abramoff's behalf in exchange for gifts.[49]

Abramoff referred clients to Ed Buckham's Alexander Strategy Group (ASG), a lobbying firm. In addition, Abramoff clients gave more than $1.5 million to Buckham's U.S. Family Network, which then paid ASG more than $1 million.[50]

From 1998 to 2002, ASG paid Christine DeLay a monthly salary averaging between $3,200 and $3,400. DeLay's attorney, Richard Cullen, initially said the payments were for telephone calls she made periodically to the offices of certain members of Congress seeking the names of their favorite charities, and that she then forwarded that information to Buckham, along with some information about those charities. In early June 2006, Cullen said the payments were also for general political consulting she provided to her husband. In all, Christine DeLay was paid about $115,000 directly by ASG, and got another $25,000 via money put into a retirement account by the firm.[51] Her work with ASG has been the subject of an inquiry by the Department of Justice.[38][52]


#24 ^ a b "Smiling DeLay turns himself in for booking". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/10/20/Delay.booking/. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
#25 ^ http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2005/images/10/19/DELAYCAPIAS10-19-2005.pdf
#26 ^ Smith, R. Jeffrey (December 31, 2005). "The DeLay-Abramoff Money Trail". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/30/AR2005123001480_pf.
#27 ^ Sherwell, Philip; David Harrison (January 9, 2006). "British lawyers linked to $1 million payment for favours at US Congress". The Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/01/08/wus08.xml&sSheet=/
#28 ^ Dubose, Lou Broken Hammer?, Salon.com, 2005-04-08. Retrieved 2006-04-15.
#29 ^ Birnbaum, Jeffrey Going Left on K Street, The Washington Post, 2004-07-02. Retrieved 2006-06-18.
#30 ^ Tumulty, Karen (April 27, 2005). "But Did He Inhale?". Time. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1054968,00.html. Retrieved 2006-04-16.
#31 ^ "Cuban Cigar Update" (PDF). United States Department of the Treasury. http://www.treasury.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/programs/legacy/ccigar2.pdf. Retrieved 2006-04-22.
#32^ a b Toobin, Jeffrey Drawing the Line, The New Yorker, 2006-02-27. Retrieved 2006-06-19.
#33 ^ Texas Redistricting Fight Not Over, The Associated Press, 2004-10-18. Retrieved 2006-07-23.
#34 ^ Lieberman: Federal Authority Misused by Texas Republicans, United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, 2003-08-22. Retrieved 2006-04-24.
#35 ^ DeLay letter, U.S. House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, 2004-10-04. Retrieved 2006-04-24.
#36 ^ "In '88, accident forced DeLays to choose between life, death". The Los Angeles Times. March 27, 2005. http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2005/03/27/
MNGTRBVFV01.DTL. Retrieved 2006-04-15.
#37 ^ Babington, Charles (April 5, 2005). "Senator Links Violence to 'Political' Decisions". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A26236-2005Apr4.html. Retrieved 2006-04-15.
#38 ^ a b Schmidt, Susan, and James V. Grimaldi (November 26, 2005). "Lawmakers Under Scrutiny in Probe of Lobbyist". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/25/AR2005112501423_pf.
html. Retrieved 2006-04-16.
#39 ^ Novak, Robert (March 25, 2006). "Abramoff clearing DeLay". http://townhall.com/opinion/columns/robertnovak/2006/03/25/191300.html. Retrieved 2006-04-16.
#40 ^ a b Ross, Brian (April 6, 2005). "DeLay's Lavish Island Getaway". ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/Investigation/story?id=647725&page=1. Retrieved 2006-04-16.
#41 ^ Shields, Mark (May 9, 2005). "The real scandal of Tom DeLay". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/05/09/real.delay/. Retrieved 2006-04-16.
#42 ^ "DeLay used lobbyist's concert skybox". Associated Press. April 20, 2005. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7577057/. Retrieved 2006-04-16.
#43 ^ Smith, R. Jeffrey (April 24, 2005). "DeLay Airfare Was Charged to Lobbyist's Credit Card". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A12416-2005Apr23.html. Retrieved 2006-06-21.
#44 ^ a b Grimaldi, James V., and R. Jeffrey Smith (March 12, 2005). "Gambling Interests Funded DeLay Trip". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A28252-2005Mar11.html. Retrieved 2006-06-21.
#45 ^ a b Weisman, Jonathan (January 8, 2006). "Abramoff Probe Turns Focus on DeLay Aide". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/09/AR2006010900952.html. Retrieved 2006-06-21.
#46 ^ "Report: DeLay Pushed To Shut Casino". Associated Press. January 10, 2006. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/01/10/politics/main1196412.shtml. Retrieved 2006-04-16.
#47^ "Texas Penal Code, Chapter 47: Gambling". http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/statutes/docs/PE/content/htm/pe.010.00.000047.00.htm. Retrieved 2006-04-22.
#48 ^ Frieden, Terry (November 21, 2005). "DeLay ex-aide pleads guilty in Abramoff case". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/11/21/scanlon.plea/. Retrieved 2006-06-21.
#49 ^ Eilperin, Juliet, and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum (April 1, 2006). "A Force Behind the Power". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/31/AR2006033101742.html. Retrieved 2006-06-21.
#50 ^ Smith, R. Jeffrey (March 26, 2006). "Former DeLay Aide Enriched By Nonprofit". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/25/AR2006032501166_pf.
#51 ^ Smith, R. Jeffrey (June 7, 2006). "Retirement Account of DeLay's Wife Traced: With Disclosure, Family's Known Benefits From Ties With Lobbyist Exceed $490,000".
The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/06/AR2006060601320.html.
#52 ^ Mullins, Brody (September 6, 2006). "Lobbying Probe Looks at Payments To DeLay's Wife". The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB115751113432354767-RTaE1AhatX6WxT2GjgW5_

Go to Wikipedia to follow the links- while they're still up, anyway. Given that Justice dropped all charges, chances are they'll be greatly abbreviated soon. Hot Tub Tom did a whole lot more than simply keep his kin on the payroll. By extension, one assumes this is simply business as usual in D.C., and Tom was simply too much of flaming ass to avoid being caught.

Far from being "a high-minded man in a low-minded age", these actions reveal Obama to be just another corrupt politician, instructing his Justice Department to go easy on the Bu$h-era criminality lest the next Republican (and who possibly thinks there will not be one as early as 2012?) hound the Oborg.

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