July 11, 2004
Now that's what I call working the refs

I'd say this is as good a reason as any why Tom DeLay doesn't fear Chris Bell's ethics complaint against him, GOP attempts to make it go away by fiat notwithstanding.

WASHINGTON -- Of the five Republicans investigating an ethics complaint against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, four have received campaign contributions from DeLay's political action committee, splitting $28,504 over the past seven years, records show.

The contributions, all delivered before the ethics committee received the DeLay complaint June 15, highlight the conflict-of-interest pitfalls and awkward situations spawned by the U.S. House's decision to police itself on ethics.

"I think all the members hate" serving on the committee, said Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan government watchdog.

"You're put in the position of either doing nothing -- which is what they generally do -- in which case you are fairly criticized for not taking your job seriously. On the other hand, you can try to enforce the rules and get all the other members angry at you," said Noble, who spent 13 years as general counsel for the Federal Election Commission.

Sorry, fellas, no sympathy. If you're not capable of policing yourselves, then figure out a way to get a nonpartisan commission to do it. Otherwise, serve your time with IAB and quit gritching.

DeLay is his party's most prolific fund-raiser in the House. His political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority, has raised almost $2.7 million during this election cycle, spreading $623,000 among 75 House candidates, many of them incumbents. House Democratic leaders also give freely to members of their caucus.

Given DeLay's largesse and his drive to expand the Republican majority beyond its 22-seat House advantage, it's not surprising that ethics committee members are among the many recipients of the PAC's cash.

The breakdown, according to Federal Election Commission records from 1997 through May 2004, is:

* $14,777 for Rep. Kenny Hulshof of Missouri. The latest contributions, totaling $9,000, were in 2000.

* $10,553 for Rep. Steven LaTourette of Ohio, with $10,000 coming this year.

* $1,764 for Rep. Judy Biggert of Illinois in 1998.

* $1,410 for Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington, also in 1998.

* Chairman Joel Hefley of Colorado received no money from DeLay's political action committee.

In addition, DeLay's PAC gave money to most members of the "ethics pool," a group designated by House Speaker Dennis Hastert to serve on potential investigative subcommittees. The PAC contributed $65,902 to eight of the 10 Republican members, ranging from $525 to Rep. Sam Johnson of Dallas to $20,000 for Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois, Election Commission records show.

Am I the only one who's reminded of Tony Soprano's consulting with every halfway decent divorce lawyer in the NY/NJ metro area in order to ensure they couldn't represent Carmela?

Republicans say the money will not influence the committee, noting that similar contributions from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich didn't hinder the panel. A two-year investigation into activities related to Gingrich's political action committee resulted in a $300,000 fine and the first reprimand of a sitting speaker in 1997.

I'll be more than happy to see my cynicism proven wrong. Via Eschaton.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 11, 2004 to Scandalized! | TrackBack

Geez. Nothing like a little home-cookin'.

Posted by: Kriston on July 12, 2004 4:07 PM