This is hilarious: Tom DeLay was scheduled to be in Austin at 11 AM today for a fundraiser for his own campaign. Democrats were going to greet him with a protest outside the venue. Apparently, the thought of that so spooked him that he rescheduled the event for 8 AM instead, and snuck in and out unprotested. I've reproduced an email from Capitol Inside with the details beneath the More link, along with a statement from State Democratic Party Chair Charles Soechting, but I've got to hand it to the guy. You'd think it'd be impossible for him to go anywhere unnoticed with all of the thunderclouds, swarms of bats, and "Toccata and Fugue" music following him around, but he managed to pull it off. That's pretty impressive skulduggery in my book.
(Thanks to Matt and to HellieMae for forwarding the Capitol Inside email, and to Kelly for the Soechting email.)
UPDATE: The Express-News picks up the story.
October 4, 2004
DeLay Stays One Step Ahead of Critics with Last-Minute Scheduling Switch
BY Mike Hailey
Now you see him, now you don't.
U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay outfoxed local Democrats who'd been
planning to protest his appearance at a Monday fundraiser in downtown
Austin. The powerful Texan slipped into town four hours earlier than
originally scheduled, started raising cash for his re-election campaign
and hoped to hit the road before any angry protestors arrived on the scene.
Going into Monday, Democrats had hoped to have several hundred people
packing the street outside the Austin Club during the fundraising event to
draw attention to DeLay's ties to the political action committee at the
center of more than two dozen indictments that were returned two weeks ago
by a Travis County grand jury investigating corporate influence in the
2002 state House elections. Three fundraising consultants for the Texans
for a Republican Majority and several corporations face criminal charges
in the ongoing probe.
But DeLay pulled a fast one on the Democrats with a last-minute change of
plans. He had sponsors move the fundraiser from the noon hour up to to 8
a.m. Lobbyists and others who'd indicated plans to attend the event were
alerted Sunday night to the scheduling revisions. According to planners,
the time of the event was changed so DeLay could get back to Washington in
time for a key vote on the floor of the U.S. House. DeLay's supporters
dismissed suggestions that he was trying to elude protestors with the
sudden scheduling shift.
DeLay arrived at the Austin Club about 7:50 a.m. in a black Cadillac
Escalade sports utility vehicle, which followed another car into an alley
off 9th Street between Congress Avenue and Brazos Street. The congressman,
who was accompanied by a small security detail, entered the building
througha sid e door on the alley. There wasn't a single protestor in sight
at the time.
The Austin fundraiser was designed to help DeLay raise cash for his
general election race against Democrat Richard Morrison, a Sugar Land
lawyer who's attempting to overcome long odds in challenging the second
most powerful Republican in the U.S. House. Democrats became incensed when
they heard last week that DeLay planned to raise money for his re-election
in Austin just a few blocks from the county courthouse where District
Attorney Ronnie Earle has been leading the grand jury inquiry since early
But even though TRMPAC was modeled and named after a national leadership
PAC run by DeLay, the former legislator from the Houston area has insisted
that he had nothing to do with the state committee's activities in the
legislative contests two years ago. Two of the consultants who were
indicted, however, are based in Washington and have close ties to DeLay.
TRMPAC helped the GOP seize its first majority in the Texas House since
Reconstruction - and that led to the election of Speaker Tom Craddick at
the start of the regular session last year. Craddick has also been a
target of the probe for activities believed to be related to his race in
2002 for the House's top job. With a Republican majority and speaker in
place, DeLay was able to persuade the the Legislature into redrawing
congressional districts so the GOP could finally claim a majority in the
U.S. House delegation from Texas as well.
Soechting Calls on Texas Politicians Who Took DeLayıs Money to Donate it to Children's Health Care; Blasts DeLay for Running Away
(Austin, TX) -- Texas Democratic Party Chairman Charles Soechting today called on all Texas politicians who have taken money from embattled U.S. Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Sugar Land) to donate it to local children's health care programs.
"Tom DeLay has become the most insidious threat to the democratic process since Joseph McCarthy," Soechting said. "Any politician here in Texas who has pocketed his campaign cash then voted to strip children of their health care coverage should take a small step to fix their mistake by giving that money to a local hospital or medical clinic."
DeLay, early this morning, snuck into Austin several hours ahead of a scheduled fundraiser to raise money for his campaign. The fundraiser was scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Late last night, DeLay changed it to 8:00 a.m. to avoid the possibility of street protests and a media stakeout.
"He snuck in a back door in a back alley, with a security detail protecting him from the backlash of public scrutiny," Soechting said. "With his top fundraising aides under felony indictment and facing criminal charges of bribery, extortion, fraud, money laundering and abuse of power himself, DeLay has been reduced to skulking around like a fugitive."
Soechting scoffed at DeLay's stated excuse for the last-minute scheduling change: an "important" floor vote this afternoon in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"This is a weak excuse from the man who schedules all floor votes in the first place or holds them open for hours at a time to make sure he can twist arms and extort support for his radical agenda," Soechting said.
Soechting said that the earliest anything resembling an "important" floor vote could happen is 6:30 p.m. -- and even that possible vote was unlikely for today.
Last week, organizers of a fundraiser for a Louisiana congressional candidate abruptly canceled plans for a visit from DeLay. Today's sparsely attended stealth fundraiser in Austin provided further evidence that even DeLay's fellow ideologues are distancing themselves from the stench of corruption following him around.