November 12, 2003
Tom DeLay jumps the shark

Hey, guess what? You may have already won a free telemarketing call from Tom DeLay and the chance to write a fabulous check to one of his political action committees!

AIR FORCE CHAPLAIN James Helton says he was flabbergasted when he first heard the news from his wife. "She told me you've been selected for a national award by Congressman DeLay, and they really want you to call the office."

Helton wondered why a powerful Republican leader would want to honor a humble Air Force reservist and quickly returned the call. He was so upset by what he heard that he invited NBC News to record the conversation when he called back a second time.

First there was a recorded message: "This is Congressman Tom DeLay. I'm asking you to serve as an honorary chairman on our business advisory council, and you will be recognized with our national leadership award."

Then, a telemarketer came on the line: "You'd be invited to private dinners with congressmen and quarterly strategy sessions in Washington."

In the call, Helton was also promised an exclusive black-tie president's dinner and his name in a newspaper ad.

Then came the pitch from the telemarketer: "We're asking each chairman for a one-time gift of $300 or $500 for the ad. Can we count on your support?"

Helton replied: 'That's pushing my budget a little. Does it have to be paid all at once?"

"Would $100 or $200 be any better for you? And I could even split that down into two payments as well," replied the telemarketer.

Helton, an independent voter who voted for Bush in the last presidential election, did not send a dime. "It was dishonest, it was sleazy, and it was certainly unbecoming a national party like this," said Helton.

Man, all they're missing is Ed McMahon and Dick Clark. Notice, by the way, how they left a message with his wife rather than change the spiel to make her the recipient of the "award". Maybe it's for men only, maybe she's a known Democrat, or maybe she'll be getting her own personalized call at a later date, who knows.

Past awardees include a convicted sex offender and a maker of drug paraphernalia — both awards were later rescinded.

The award also is proudly displayed in the office of an adult film promoter, Harry Weiss, who sent Republicans a check from his company — "Nefarious Films."

"They cashed the check, so I guess they’re happy to have me aboard," Weiss said.

You're money's green, too, Harry. This just proves that real life always eventually catches up to satire:

During the early stages of the 1996 presidential contest, I formed several legal organizations. I sent a number of checks to the leading candidates, as well as Ross Perot, just to see how greedy they could be. I appointed my assistant, Gillian, the head of each organization and signatory of each check. Legitimate $75 and $100 checks went to all of the candidates from the following organization: Pedophiles for Free Trade, The John Wayne Gacey Fan Club, Hemp Growers of America, Satan Worshipers for Dole and Abortionists for Buchanan.

That's from Michael Moore's book Downsize This!. He notes that Buchanan cashed all of the checks, including the one from Satan Worshipers for Dole, and that he got a response letter from the Perot camp which began "I'd like to thank you and your fellow pedophiles for your support."

DeLay story via Liberal Oasis (scroll down a bit).

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 12, 2003 to Scandalized! | TrackBack

Yeah, I think DeLay needs the money to pay for more fancy full-color, heavy stock mailer brochures detailing all the kind arm-twisting he's done on behalf of marrieds-with-children in Fort Bend County.

Posted by: UncleBob on November 12, 2003 12:31 PM

I'm surprised that the telemarketer wasn't in India.

However, I'm not surprised that the Republican definition of "leadership" is something that is bought.

Posted by: Tx Bubba on November 12, 2003 1:04 PM

I actually got one of these calls at work several months ago. No recording, just a telemarketer. I figured it was standard GOP fundraising but that DeLay was so aggressive he was having his people call everyone who looked like they might be in a job with a decent salary (lawyer in my case). I didn't think for a minute it was anything other than giving DeLay a donation in exchange for some weird plaque honoring me as an entrepreneurial hero or whatever.

Posted by: Luis on November 12, 2003 3:15 PM

I too received one of these phone calls, albeit in an earlier version, last year. I didn't think twice about it because I have known for a long time what a racist, reprehensible, cowardly scumbag Tom DeLay is so this kind of behavior is in line with my perception. I'm glad to see it reported in the mainstream media! Out this crook!

Posted by: Patrick on November 13, 2003 9:51 AM