According to Roll Call, some lobbyists are having a bit of buyer's remorse now that Tom DeLay is no longer a candidate for office:
A few lobbyists who helped raise money for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) - all of them outside the inner circle of the former Majority Leader - say they'd like the outgoing Congressman to offer them their money back.
DeLay, who is fighting an indictment in Texas, announced last week his intention to resign. He is also caught up in the Jack Abramoff scandal, in which some of his former aides have pleaded guilty.
His re-election kitty, probably worth upwards of $1 million, is widely expected to be shifted into a fund to pay his mounting legal bills. While these lobbyists didn't mind cutting checks to the Majority Leader, or even a member of the Appropriations Committee, they aren't so energized about spreading their generosity to DeLay's legal team because, well, what's in it for them?
"If I wanted to give to a legal fund, I would've done it directly," snarled one GOP lobbyist who refused to have his name attached to such callous-sounding sentiments, even if DeLay is leaving Congress.
Another lobbyist who gives to Members on both sides of the aisle said, "It's nauseating to think about" his campaign contribution going to fund DeLay's legal team. "I'm realistic about it. He wouldn't resign for no reason," this lobbyist said, noting that the timing of DeLay's departure came awfully close to the announcement of a plea agreement by his former aide Tony Rudy. "That all this money will go to the legal defense fund, it sickens me," he added. "I have to pay for that?"
Another Republican lobbyist and past participant in DeLay fundraisers also declined to speak ill of "the Hammer" on the record, but said, "It's interesting that he's been fundraising up a storm and now he's not going [to run]. I didn't know we were going to support a legal fund." He added, sarcastically, "Glad we can help him out with it."
That said, many other lobbyists who have given to DeLay say they are proud of supporting him in his time of need.
John Blount, a lobbyist with the National Group who gave $1,000 to DeLay's campaign last summer, said he absolutely does not want his money back.
"I am happy to have it used in any way that Tom DeLay sees fit," Blount said.
Dutko Worldwide lobbyist Brad Card (who's the brother of outgoing White House Chief of Staff Andy Card) said he is comfortable with everyone he's given a check to, including DeLay.
"You're not going to hear me defend anyone who did anything illegal," Card said. "I think a lot of these things are witch hunts, personally. There are a lot of good people in Congress and a lot of hard-working lobbyists."
An aide in DeLay's Capitol Hill office said the campaign office would determine whether any contributions would be returned. DeLay's campaign spokeswoman Shannon Flaherty did not return an e-mail question on the matter, and the voice mailbox of DeLay's campaign manager was full.
Card added that whenever lobbyists make contributions to Members or candidates, they always run the risk that those Members will leave Congress. "You have to give for the right reasons and then move on," he said. As for the lobbyists who have privately griped about wanting their money back, Card said, "They should ask for it."