June 07, 2003
Dems want Westar investigation

Democrats are calling for an investigation into allegations that energy company Westar made political contributions to four legislators in return for a favorable amendment to pending legislation.

The money went to political groups associated with GOP leaders, including Rep. Joe Barton (Tex.), who inserted a provision to exempt the company, Westar Energy Inc., from a troublesome federal regulation, and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Tex.) The provision was later withdrawn after Westar became the subject of a federal investigation of the company's practices. In e-mails, company officials had written of a plan "for participation" in the legislation and had said that Barton and other GOP lawmakers had requested the contributions.

"These allegations should be fully investigated. If DeLay and other members of Congress did agree to sell political access, they should be prosecuted for violating bribery laws," said former Vermont governor Howard Dean, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

"It is a serious federal crime for anyone to promise any public benefit 'provided for or made possible in a whole or in part by any act of Congress as consideration for any political activity or for the support of any candidate,' " Democratic Party Chairman Terence McAuliffe said yesterday in a letter to Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, requesting an investigation.

Public Citizen asked the Justice Department to investigate as well, calling the allegations a possible "violation of federal anti-bribery statutes and [a] potential breach of campaign finance law."

Barbara Comstock, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to comment on the requests.

Actually, I think the most exciting thing in this story is that Terry McAuliffe is agreeing with Howard Dean on something. If that's the start of a trend, then any investigations that may come out of this would be gravy.

We'll keep a eye on this. Really, I've been expecting Tom DeLay to Gingrich himself for some time now - it's just his nature to be arrogant and overreaching. I think it's more a matter of whether the press can find a compelling and easy-to-tell storyline in what he does than whether he does anything truly wrong. Maybe this is it, but I know better than to get my hopes up.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 07, 2003 to Scandalized! | TrackBack

Did they report this money to the I.R.S.?

Posted by: Betty Zuspann on July 2, 2003 8:43 PM