The Tom DeLay Scandal Spillover Vortex has claimed another casualty.
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, was listed as a special guest and speaker in 2002 for Texans for a Republican Majority. While investigating DeLay's conduct last year, the House committee deferred — but did not dismiss — a complaint that DeLay, R-Texas, used the same political committee to solicit corporate contributions in violation of state law.
"Your support today will go directly to help Republican candidates in Texas successfully run and win their campaigns," according to one invitation from the political committee for a Sept. 23, 2002, breakfast reception with Smith and Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-Texas. Suggested donations ranged from $25 to $10,000.
Smith said in an interview that neither he, nor any other House ethics committee member, would "let personal friendship get in the way of the integrity of the House."
Smith would not say whether he would remove himself from consideration of the matter.
Every member of the committee "is obligated to protect the integrity of the House," he said.
And speaking of lawyers with questionable relationships:
When a Senate committee started investigating whether U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's lobbyist friend and a former aide had misled Indian tribes into giving them millions of dollars in fees, the Coushatta Indians of Louisiana needed to replace the lobbyist with new legal representation.
They turned to Hance Scarborough Woodward & Weisbart LLP, the Austin law firm that is defending the DeLay-founded Texans for a Republican Majority in civil lawsuits brought by losing Democratic candidates.
Former Texas congressman Kent Hance said it is just coincidence that he is representing the Louisiana Coushattas while his partner, Terry Scarborough, represents Texans for a Republican Majority, or TRMPAC.
UPDATE: The chairs of the Texas and Ohio Democratic Parties have sent Smith a letter asking him to "step aside as Chairman of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct". Click the More link to read it.
Dear Chairman Smith:
We are writing to ask you to step aside as Chairman of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.
Yesterday's news that you personally raised funds for Majority Leader Tom Mr. DeLay's political action committee, a serious legal matter currently pending in your committee and other legal forums, makes it untenable for you to continue as chairman.
As you know, three of Mr. DeLay's top associates at that political action committee, Texans For a Republican Majority or TRMPAC, have been indicted for their role in the 2002 campaign for which you helped them raise cash. Your own committee has an ongoing inquiry into this same matter. The Senate is also seeking financial records and travel receipts for a 2002 trip to Scotland by Mr. DeLay and his close ally, House Administration Committee Chairman Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio), among others.
Before your appointment, your committee deferred action on the fund-raising allegations against Mr. DeLay in an effort not to interfere with the work of the Texas grand jury.
Yesterday's reports that you raised money for TRMPAC during a San Antonio breakfast on September 23, 2002, uncovers a conflict of interest that will be impossible to ignore even by recusing yourself once your committee resumes its investigation of Mr. DeLay. In the larger context of the other controversies swirling around your committee, the only honorable course of action for you now is to step aside.
CHARLES SOECHTING DENNIS WHITE
Chairman, Texas Democratic Party Chairman, Ohio Democratic Party
Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 17, 2005 to Scandalized!
Cc The Honorable Alan B. Mollohan, Ranking Minority Member