Didn't manage to get to this yesterday, but (surprise!) email evidence has turned up that links Tom DeLay more tightly to his buddy, Jack Abramoff.
Prosecutors have e-mails showing Rep. Tom DeLay's office knew lobbyist Jack Abramoff had arranged the financing for the GOP leader's controversial European golfing trip in 2000 and was concerned "if someone starts asking questions."
House ethics rules bar lawmakers from accepting free trips from lobbyists. DeLay, R-Texas, reported to Congress that a Republican advocacy group had paid for the spring 2000 trip that DeLay, his wife and top aides took to Scotland and England.
The e-mails obtained by The Associated Press show DeLay's staff asked Abramoff — not the advocacy group — to account for the costs that had to be legally disclosed on congressional travel forms. DeLay's office was worried the group being cited as paying the costs might not even know about them, the e-mails state.
Abramoff's team sought to low-ball the cost estimates and DeLay's office ultimately reported to Congress a total that was a few thousand dollars lower than the one the lobbyist provided, the documents show.
"We should give them the most minimal numbers for cost of the hotel (do not include golf), food and plays," Abramoff wrote two assistants at his Preston Gates lobbying firm in an e-mail from June 29, 2000. One of those assistants, Susan Ralston, now works for top White House adviser Karl Rove.
In a follow-up e-mail to Abramoff, Ralston reported she talked to DeLay's then-deputy chief of staff, Tony Rudy, who suggested numbers that could be used as cost figures on the congressional travel report. Rudy had gone on the trip with his boss.
"Tony said: $6,800 for flights per person. $300 per night for hotel, $120 per day per person for meals, $500 per day for transportation," Ralston wrote Abramoff. Abramoff's credit card bill shows some costs were higher.