Would-be donors to a charity benefiting the subdivision, Oaks at Rio Bend, originally were invited to a New York golf tournament, late-night party, convention VIP room and yacht cruise with DeLay, who has been a foster parent of at least three children.
With donation packages from $10,000 to $500,000, potential contributors were offered a special suite at the convention for President Bush's nomination acceptance speech. At the most expensive level, donor perks would include dinner with DeLay before and after the convention, according to event promotions. A 13-page brochure had exactly one sentence mentioning abused and neglected children.
The brochure was more expansive on such things as Broadway tickets and a golf tournament at the Bethpage Black Course in Farmingdale, N.Y.
But the events were dropped in May after criticism from groups that monitor political fund-raising. The organizations, such as Common Cause, said the events wrongly were being used to sell access to DeLay, and the GOP convention, to various interest groups.
"This so-called 'charity' is set up to divide its contributions between helping poor children and electing the very politicians whose policies help keep these children improverished," the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy said last year when the convention fund-raising plan was unveiled.
In Fort Bend County, Oaks at Rio Bend administrator Margaret Gow said the project could have used the donations.
"Certainly it would have made our lives easier," Gow said.
The project sits on 50 acres donated by the George Foundation and has received at least $6 million with the help of the DeLay Foundation for Kids. Last year, organizers said at least $4 million more was needed for completion of the first phase of the community.
The vision of DeLay and his wife, Christine, who has served on the project's board of directors, Oaks at Rio Bend intends to provide stability and support services that may be lacking in the normal foster care system.
When the project broke ground last September, officials predicted the first families would move in 12 months later. Instead, only site preparation is visible now. There are no residents.
Gow said the problem is not funding, but drainage.
Oaks at Rio Bend did not submit its plans to the Fort Bend County Drainage District, part of the construction approval process, until Jan. 20, officials said. Approval did not come until June because the plans originally lacked information on a required pond for flood control.
Gow hopes house construction will start in October.