Wednesday, November 17, 2004

House Republicans Show Their Hypocrisy in Protecting DeLay

House Republicans demonstrated their blind loyalty to Majority Leader Tom DeLay today, changing a decade-old party rule that would have cost him his leadership post -- if he were indicted by a Texas grand jury that has charged three of his associates.

GOP lawmakers met in closed session before ending a requirement that leaders indicted on felony charges relinquish their positions. Republicans will now decide a House leader's fate in a case-by-case review.

Why change the rule now? In September, grand jurors indicted three DeLay associates and eight corporations in an investigation of alleged illegal corporate contributions to a political action committee associated with DeLay. Although there is no indication DeLay will be indicted, Republicans are clearly anxious about what they call a "witch hunt" by Democratic prosecutor, Ronnie Earle.

Why do Republicans want to protect DeLay? Look at what the man has done. Besides raising millions of campaign dollars for his fellow Republicans, DeLay engineered a redistricting plan in Texas that caused five Democratic losses through retirement or election defeats.

Why is it hypocritical? A little history.

In 1993, amid ethical and criminal charges pending against several senior House Democrats and Rep. Joe McDade (R-Pa.), the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, Republicans stripped leaders and ranking committee members — the GOP was then in the minority — of their posts. By that time, Speaker Jim Wright (D-Texas) and Majority Whip Tony Coelho (D-Calif.) previously had resigned under pressure of ethical charges. Majority Whip William Gray (D-Pa.) had been investigated by the Justice Department for improper use of his personal office.

In part because of their success holding their fellow members of Congress accountable, the Newt Gingrich-led GOP swept into power in 1994.


Rep John Dingell (D-MI) said today: "These folks talk about values and decency, but then think it’s okay to change the rules once it appears one of their own may have broken them. This amounts to a work release program for the ethically challenged. We should all remember that a decade ago, Mr. DeLay helped to create this rule. Republicans said at the time they were the party of reform and good government. Now they’ve become the party of moribund hubris."

Some GOP lawmakers also oppose the change.

"It sends all the wrong signals for us to change the current rules," said Rep. Zach Wamp of Tennessee. He said he requested a recorded, secret ballot but the suggestion was voted down. (Not a surprise, since DeLay helped block a bipartisan House effort to vote to demand a paper trail for electornic voting machines.)

A fellow Republican opponent, Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut, estimated 30 to 50 members voted against it. More than 200 Republicans were eligible to vote.

Shays told reporters it violates the spirit of the Congressional Accountability Act -- a GOP-inspired law that forces Congress to follow federal laws that apply to the private sector.

Recalling that elimination of favoritism for lawmakers was an issue that helped Republicans capture control of the House a decade ago, Shays said, "There are too many new members who don't remember how we got here."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big mistake by republican party

10:28 AM  

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