Give me a minute here. I'm getting all verklempt.
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay urged colleagues today to "stand on principle" and ignore the media in a farewell speech to fellow House Republicans at their weekly private meeting.
DeLay, facing trial in Texas on campaign money laundering charges, is leaving Congress Friday. He plans one more speech before ending a 21-year career in the House.
Several rounds of applause and cheers could be heard from behind the closed doors. When they were opened to let a congresswoman in, members could be seen on their feet, cheering and applauding.
After the nearly one-hour meeting, DeLay related some of his comments to reporters. He said he advised GOP House members: "Don't listen to you guys in this town" and to "stand on principle."
"We have been able to make history for 12 years and we'll do it again," DeLay said he also told colleagues. He called the response heartwarming.
"I couldn't get 'em to sit down. The love is great," DeLay said.
"I don't bear any regret at all. I'm very excited about what the future may hold," he said. "I'm very proud of these members' records."
What's important is now the process to determine the Chosen One can now officially begin.
Texas Republicans took a key official step Wednesday toward replacing U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay on the November ballot, as the state GOP declared him ineligible to run because he has moved his official residence to Virginia.
Friday is the former House majority leader's last day in Congress.
Republican Party of Texas Chairwoman Tina Benkiser notified Republican county chairs in the 22nd Congressional District that they can begin the process for selecting a new nominee. DeLay's successor as GOP nominee will be selected by a four-member committee of precinct chairs representing each of the counties in the district - Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston and Harris.
County chairs plan to call meetings before the end of the month. Once each of the counties has selected its representative, they will meet to choose the new Republican nominee.
And please, don't worry about poor Tom and what he may do next. He's made sure that his family is well cared for.
A registered lobbyist opened a retirement account in the late 1990s for the wife of then-House Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and contributed thousands of dollars to it while also paying her a salary to work for him from her home in Texas, according to sources, documents and DeLay's attorney, Richard Cullen.
The account represents a small portion of the income that DeLay's family received from entities at least partly controlled by lobbyist Edwin A. Buckham. But the disclosure of its origin adds to what was previously known about the benefits DeLay's family received from its association with Buckham, and it brings the total over the past seven years to about half a million dollars.
Buckham, who co-owned his lobbying firm with his wife, initially opened the retirement account for Christine DeLay at First Union bank. In 2001, he transferred it to the Charles Schwab & Co. office near his home in Frederick, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter. From 1999 to 2000, DeLay listed the account as a spousal asset on his financial disclosure forms without specifying its value.
In his 2001 disclosure, DeLay said for the first time that the account was valued at between $15,000 and $50,000. Beginning in 2003, he listed it as a joint asset, though Cullen said in an interview that it remained in Christine DeLay's name and that such a listing was not required. "I believe the IRA has remained in Christine's name since the inception and that [the joint] designation must have been an error," Cullen said.
Besides financing the retirement account, Buckham played a role in two other streams of income that indirectly benefited DeLay.
One involved payments to DeLay's family by his principal political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority (ARMPAC), which drew its largest donations from corporations. Three former DeLay staffers with firsthand knowledge of Buckham's activities have described him as a decision maker for the group, even though it was formally run by its executive director.
An arm of the group paid Buckham a monthly consulting fee, and Buckham in turn employed its executive director as a consultant to his lobbying firm. The two of them shared a single office on the top floor of a townhouse owned by a nonprofit organization that Buckham created and directed. Buckham's role is relevant because from 2001 to Jan. 31, 2006, ARMPAC paid Christine DeLay; DeLay's daughter, Dani DeLay Ferro; and Ferro's Texas firm a total of $350,304 in political consulting fees and expenses, according to public records.
The Washington Post previously disclosed that from 1998 to 2002, Buckham's lobbying firm, Alexander Strategy Group, paid Christine DeLay a monthly salary averaging between $3,200 and $3,400. Cullen initially said the payments were for telephone calls she made periodically to the offices of certain members of Congress seeking the names of their favorite charities. Christine DeLay then forwarded that information to Buckham, along with some information about those charities.
Last week, Cullen said the payments were also for general political consulting Christine DeLay provided to her husband. Cullen said he does not have complete records of the salary payments or the dates when Christine DeLay performed the work from the couple's home in Sugar Land, Tex. But a source familiar with the pay records said the total she received from the Alexander Strategy Group was about $115,000.
Together with the retirement account worth about $25,000, this means the family's total financial benefits from entities at least partly controlled by Buckham exceeded $490,300.
UPDATE: This would be a very fitting going-away present for DeLay.
Billing it as a fitting "going-away present" for Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, three Democratic House members on Wednesday filed a bill to raise the minimum wage in the Northern Marianas and tighten immigration standards for the U.S. territory, which critics say has become a haven for apparel industry sweat shops.