Tom Delay

The Two Faces of Tom Delay

Tom Delay


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[Click on the Titles Below to go to that Page]

Latest News About Tom Delay

Introduction to the Real Tom Delay

Tom Delay's New World Order

Should or is Tom Delay Going to Jail?

Get Tom Delay to the Church on Time -Religious Aura

All About Tom Delay

The Decay of Tom Delay's Power

Delay Inc. Part One thru Three

Tom Delay's Funny Money Trail Part One thru Three

Will Tom Delay's Fumes Cloud the Energy Bill?

Other Tom Delay Links

We will leave it up to the reader to determine whether Tom Delay has made serious errors in in judgment.  Tom has supported a Conservative Christian position especially when it comes to Church and State issues, but it is apparent from the data collected, that the first amendment may be in danger from his past and future actions.

When we contacted Tom Delay's office, they stated that his position is that Christianity is the only "Real" religion."  What is a real religion, Mr. Delay?  What you have been practicing? If what you have been practicing is "Real Christianity", it obviously should be made illegal.   According to evidence, his actions have been corrupt, illegal and unethical.   Read the following and remember: "By their Works may they be known."  This is a summary of information collected from several sources, including Salon Magazine, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, The New Republic, and The Hill, about Tom Delay.

(Remember it is best to investigate on your own when looking at allegations about anyone.     Don't believe us, think for yourself and investigate for yourself!  And remember, the First Amendment Coalition does not represent any political party nor do we recommend any political candidate, nor are we involving ourselves in the political process.  This information is only for students of Tom Delay )

Tom DeLay


Tom Delay
Thomas Dale DeLay (born April 8, 1947) is a disgraced former U.S. Congressman and one-time Majority Leader of the House of Representatives who resurfaced not four years after a humiliating federal indictment shaking his decidedly Republican booty as a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars." Needless to say, he is also a traitor to American Values.

Tom DeLay was first elected to the House in 1984, soon building a reputation for enforcing party discipline on colleagues and taking retribution on opponents. This earned him the nickname “The Hammer.” One can only hope he is not planning to subject America to his version of “Can’t Touch This.” Although, hammer pants would certainly conceal his junk better than those tight polyester double-knits he wore on the season nine premiere.

The first national politician to appear on a reality show, DeLay is also the first contestant to compete on a reality show while currently out on bail. It’s hard to say which provides a more apt comment on American popular culture. Still, they both clearly indicate our proximity to its nadir.

Silver lining: an appearance on "Dancing with the Stars," even winning it, did not seem to resurrect anyone’s career. Just ask Joey Lawrence. Or L’il Romeo. Or Billy Ray Cyrus.

Say what you will about Tom DeLay, at least he never had a weird, drug-fueled, decade-long consensual sexual relationship with his own daughter who was also the star of a hit early 80s sitcom. At least not that anyone knows of.

Early life

Tom DeLay decided to forgo whatever scant bit of dignity he had left from his birth on April 8, 1947. Born in Laredo, schooled in Corpus Christi, and a pre-med student at Baylor University—before he got kicked out for drinking, which, honestly, at a school like Baylor really had to have been a lot of drinking—DeLay is a slow-roasted, hickory-smoked Texas-style dick.

DeLay eventually remained sober long enough to receive a bachelor’s degree in biology from University of Houston. Upon graduation, DeLay prepared himself for a future national political career by working in pest control. In fact, DeLay’s desire to fight an EPA ban on a particular pesticide was what originally sparked his interested in government. What kind of dick is Tom DeLay? The kind who becomes a politician specifically so that he can continue to poison the public without paying fines.

Political career

Tom DeLay won his first election in 1978 to the Texas House of Representatives, where he quickly became known for rampant drinking and cheating on his wife. DeLay was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1984, one of several freshmen Republican congressmen elected from Texas known as the Texas Six Pack, so named because it actually consisted of 24.

A Congressman for nearly 20 years before 20 years of campaign finance embezzlement caught up with him, DeLay began his ascent with an appointment to the Republican Committee on Committees, the actual existence of which begins to explain why Congress will never pass a national health care reform bill.

Tom DeLay also served on the House Appropriations Committee and for a time was chairman of the Republican Study Committee, so named because it ignored the findings of all its studies.

In 1988, Dick Cheney appointed Tom DeLay to be his deputy Minority Whip. Note: neither of these positions have anything to do with whipping minorities. Any minority whipping Cheney and DeLay engaged in, they did so for pleasure, not business.

With the 1995 Republican takeover of the House, DeLay was elected head honcho Minority Whip, paving the way for his eventual election as Majority Whip, then Majority Leader. In this capacity, he opposed environmental regulation, criticized proposals to phase out chlorofluorocarbons, and sought to repeal the Clean Air Act. As such, it will be absolutely hilarious when global warming causes DeLay’s Gulf Coast mansion to be submerged by the Gulf.

Of course, throughout his career, DeLay forwarded the usual conservative line: guns for everyone, abortions for no one, everything else to the wealthiest lobbying group. And then he got arrested.

Tom DeLay also worked to ensure that the House voted to impeach Bill Clinton for perjuring testimony in a federal case. Ironic, then, that DeLay now finds himself accused of the very same thing. Too bad Republicans don’t typically understand irony.

Personal life

DeLay lives in Sugar Land, Texas, a rather suggestive name for an area made up predominately of rich, white, evangelical Christians. He is married to Christine Furrh DeLay, though reports of infidelity plagued DeLay throughout his political career. In fact, his drinking and carousing earned him the nickname “Hot Tub Tom.” You really have to wonder what kind of woman would get into a hot tub with Tom DeLay.

In 1985, DeLay became a born-again Christian, by which he meant he quit hard liquor, and eventually, over the course of the ensuing 20 years, slowly weaned himself off of adultery. In 1995, DeLay became a foster parent to three teenage boys, although it’s hard to believe the Texas department of child protective services would place any child in the care of a well-documented adulterous, alcoholic criminal.

According to some reports, Tom DeLay is estranged from most of his family, including his brother and mother. Watching him dance, you can see why—no one would want to subject their wedding guests to that.

Despite long-time criticism of Fidel Castro’s regime, "Time" magazine once published a photo of DeLay smoking a Cuban cigar while on a government-funded trip to Israel in 2003. So many dickish facets to that, it’s hard to tell which is most egregious.

Dancing with the Stars

Apparently Tom DeLay couldn’t get a career going on the lecture circuit, and somehow got himself on season nine of some super-amateur hour show that serves mostly as fodder for late night talk show hosts. In the season nine premiere, DeLay, dressed in a sequined, leopard-print vest and orthopedic shoes, performed the cha-cha-cha complete with air guitar, knee-sliding, butt-wriggling, and lip-synching to “Wild Thing.” He made nobody’s heart sing. He made absolutely nothing groovy.

Should DeLay’s appearance usher in a new career path for retired prominent conservatives, it would put us that much closer to getting Dick Cheney on Top Chef. A guy like that, with that many knives around? Now that’s bound to make for some good watchin.’


4-06-2005  This morning, the Washington Post and the New York Times each broke new scandals involving Republican Majority Leader Rep. Tom DeLay. According to the Times, DeLay paid his wife and daughter more than $500,000 of his political donors' money over the last four years. And the Post article highlights a seedy 1997 trip DeLay took, underwritten by "a mysterious company located in the Bahamas" that was tied to Russian business interests.

And that's not the only legal or ethical scandal DeLay is involved in. DeLay illegally used corporate funds in support of his plan to re-district Texas, and he went on golf trips with gambling lobbyist Jack Abramoff—two months before DeLay helped kill legislation opposed by the gambling companies.

DeLay's grandstanding on the Terri Schiavo tragedy—which a great majority of the country feels is political opportunism—was the straw that broke the camel's back. Now, some Republicans in Congress are speaking out against DeLay, but most are still too scared of his powerful network of corporate donors. We need to show all of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, that if they stand up to Tom DeLay we've got their back.

We think it is time to fire Tom DeLay as House Majority Leader. Please sign the petition below urging Congress to remove DeLay from his leader post at the link below.

As the chorus of opposition grows louder, it is important to show that this isn't just a power struggle in Washington but that, in fact, millions of Americans share the same concerns about DeLay's pattern of repeated corruption.

Even the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, one of the most conservative groups of editors in the country, is offended by the excesses of Tom DeLay. They wrote on March 28, "Mr. DeLay, who rode to power in 1994 on a wave of revulsion at the everyday ways of big government, has become the living exemplar of some of its worst habits."

Among his offenses, Tom Delay:

  • Promised a role in drafting legislation to a corporate donor
  • Tried to coerce a Congressman for a vote on Medicare
  • Allegedly used corporate money given to his PAC to finance Texas campaigns in violation of state law
  • Used Homeland Security resources in a dispute with Democrats in Texas
  • Diverted funds from a children's charity for lavish celebrations at the Republican convention
  • Threatened retaliation against interest groups that don't support Republicans
  • Stacked the House Ethics committee with representatives who have contributed to his legal defense fund
  • Accepted trips from corporations and later helped kill legislation they opposed
  • Accepted trips from the lobbyist for a foreign government in violation of House rules
  • Crippled the effectiveness of the House Ethics Committee by purging members who had rebuked him
  • Pushed for a rules change for the House Ethics process that paralyzed the panel
  • Sought a rule change that would have no longer "required leaders to step aside temporarily if indicted"
  • Paid family members more than $500,000 out of campaign contributions

(See postscript below for a link to citations.)

As Majority Leader, DeLay is the second-ranking leader in the House of Representatives. He is responsible for developing the Republican issue agenda and sets the legislative schedule by selecting which bills the House will consider.

The ranks of government contractors and lobbyists who depend on this legislative authority have slathered DeLay, his cronies and related organizations with millions of dollars.

Please sign our petition today urging Congress to fire Tom Delay!

After you sign the petition please forward this e-mail to your friends, family and colleagues. They need to know about the egregious actions of this congressional leader.

Thanks for all you do.

P.S. Here is a link to the brief that we used to document DeLay's abuses. It includes links to news reports with the specific background on each of the assertions we make above.

"DeLay's Dirty Dozen" from the American Progress Action Fund

P.P.S. Our work in this campaign is supported by a number of organizations who have taken the lead.

Support a TV ad about Tom DeLay by the Campaign for America's Future

The Public Campaign Action Fund also has a TV ad on Tom DeLay. You can make a contribution to support them.

Editorial in The Wall Street Journal.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington drafted the ethics complaint against DeLay, who then tried to have them held in contempt of Congress.

Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.


If you think that Bob Barr was as low as it got in the US House of Representative, you're doing a great injustice to Majority Whip Tom DeLay.  Tom Delay, the House's Majority Whip is considered by some to be one of the most reviled thugs to hold public office in American history.  Tom DeLay has literally reduced debate on the House floor to a shoving match.  DeLay is a 52-year-old Houston millionaire and former owner of a pest-control company.  Squashing bugs seems to have convinced Tom DeLay that he is a superior being in God's grand scheme.  He is the religious right's most reliable culture warrior in the House.

His mission is so stereotypically ultra-right-wing, it sounds like a liberal joke: repeal environmental protection laws. Dismantle the EPA. Teach creationism in public schools. Have the ten commandments tattooed on every citizens ass. Abolish separation of church and state. Outlaw abortion. Pass the flag burning amendment. Spend billions on SDI. Shut down the federal government. Crucify Clinton.

But DeLays' moral impairment doesn't stop there. It finds its logical extension in the realm of campaign finance. DeLay is a master of extortion, and his shadowy fundraising operations, which raise unknown amounts of soft money for the GOP are legendary. Not surprisingly, DeLay is vigorously opposed to anything even remotely resembling a campaign finance reform. Money, according to DeLay, is "not the root of all evil in politics. In fact, money is the lifeblood of politics."

In 1984, DeLay was elected to the lower House of Congress.  He represents Sugar Land, a deceptively saccharine name for Texas's 22nd Congressional District, home to several of the worst industrial polluters in the country.   DeLay has branded the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the "gestapo of government."   His love for America is exemplified by his attempt to repeal the Clean Air Act, by his fight to cut the EPA's budget by one-third and by his cooperation with lobbyists to write legislation exempting their industries from environmental laws.

Tom DeLay practically invented the "do-nothing Congress."   He was a chief architect of the 1995 government shutdown, a ploy by which Republicans halted all productive business of our democratically elected governing bodies in a failed attempt to weaken President Clinton's resolve.   DeLay remains hardheaded about that scorched-earth tactic: "Our biggest mistake was backing off from the government shutdown."

On Capitol Hill, DeLay's nickname is the Hammer, acquired from his knack for pounding money out of political-action committees (PACs).   According to DeLay's figures, he nailed $2 million for GOP candidates in 1994.   "I worked harder than anybody else," he boasts.   "I was smarter than anybody else."

Impressed by DeLay's relentless humility, House Republicans elected the Hammer to be their Majority Whip.    Every time the GOP caucus votes to defile the face of public debate, DeLay is there to toss the initial smear.

Tom DeLay was the first national politician to call for Bill Clinton's resignation after the President admitted to fooling around with Monica Lewinsky.   "Clinton does not have the moral authority to be President," pronounced DeLay.  "I believe in the Constitution and the Bible."

DeLay has not always been immaculate.   In a rare confessional lapse the Hammer admitted that "like many young, ambitious males, I had pushed God aside.  What a jerk I was." DeLay assures a believing world that he has "rededicated my life to Christ."

The Hammer's dedication to the religious Right is beyond question.   Randy Tate, executive director of the Christian Coalition, thinks of DeLay as "a Domino's Pizza delivery guy.    It's there in 30 minutes, or it's free."

DeLay's commitment to Christ might be tempted if his lobbyist brother, Randy DeLay, landed a job representing Satan.   Tom DeLay's efforts in Congress have an uncanny tendency to benefit clients of Randy DeLay.   Tom is eager to say that his sibling is not treated "any differently" than any other lobbyist.

A House ethics committee investigated DeLay's unseemly relationship with his brother and the Hammer's defiant mode of fund-raising.   The panel noted that DeLay's defense of his behavior did not contain a denial.

During an April 1997 House floor debate, DeLay­pausing only long enough to ask himself, What Would Jesus Do?­shoved Representative David R. Obey (D-Wisconsin) and called him a "chickenshit."

"Everybody is scared of me for some reason," joked DeLay.

In the wake of Salon magazine's exposure of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde's adulterous affair, Tom DeLay displayed the wrath of God.   DeLay labeled the factual Salon story "the most disgusting piece of rumormongering I have ever seen."    DeLay demanded that the FBI investigate the journalists who had brought this piece of dark truth to the light.

DeLay had a theory about how the Hyde adultery story originated:  "They [the White House] hire a private investigator to find the dirt, then they give it to a reporter to go knock on the door."   DeLay offered no proof of such collusion between Salon and the Oval Office. Perhaps the Hammer had confused Salon with Newt Gingrich's GOPAC, which was implicated in hiring a private investigator to find dirt on Clinton and then giving it to a reporter.

DeLay has spoken highly of the former Speaker of the House. "Since 1989, [Gingrich] has had over 550 ethics charges brought against him, 550. Now what American could withstand that kind of investigation in their own private life and that kind of pressure?" One obvious American springs to mind, but DeLay's admiration does not cross party lines. "Something is amiss when a President receives almost as many bills from his lawyers as from Congress," lamented DeLay, clueless that he himself is a large part of the something that is amiss.

Tom DeLay's argument for the release of President Clinton's taped grand-jury testimony displayed characteristic "nonpartisan" reasoning. "It's ugly," said Hammer. "It's terrible, but we have to tell the American people the truth."

The truth about Tom DeLay became more apparent with every development of the morality charade that was the Clinton impeachment.  The Hammer ran a "war room" from his office, becoming a self-designated source of "talking points" to shape the stances of fellow Republicans on impeachment issues. "If we were pumping out press releases on why Bill Clinton is a bad person, then that would be partisan," said a DeLay spokesman.    Simply providing information on impeachment of the President, he said, "That's not partisan."

The House vote to present the articles of impeachment was the gravest ballot any Representative would ever cast. Stately GOP orators described the decision to impeach or not as "a vote of conscience," an evaluation each legislator would have to make between himself, his understanding of the Constitution and his God.

Tom DeLay whipped this "vote of conscience" as vigorously as he has whipped any bill for which his brother lobbied.

GOP Representative Peter King of New York wrote constituents that "threats were made against me by the Republican leadership," promising retribution if he failed to lock step with the party. King, who voted his conscience, claims that DeLay subsequently attempted to deny the New Yorker a committee position that he was in line for. DeLay's spokesman dismissed the contention with a slur: "Pete King has a reputation as making things up, and this is no different."

DeLay rarely treats a direct question with a straight answer. The New Republic unearthed evidence that Tom DeLay, a vocal critic of the President's veracity, had himself been less than truthful in a sworn 1994 deposition. Gerald P. DeNisco, attorney for a former DeLay business partner, claimed that the Congressman's evasions and misstatements during a deposition five years ago qualified him as a hypocrite.

DeLay denied under oath in a 1994 deposition that he was head of Albo Pest Control Company. At this same time, DeLay had reported to Congress that he was chairman of Albo Pest. A Washington newspaper, The Hill, examined other documents in the court case and concluded that DeLay had misstated the amount of money he was receiving from the company.

DeLay refused to explain the discrepancies. His spokesman said, "It's pretty obvious that there are people who are doing everything they can to make Tom DeLay look bad. There's more to this story than meets the eye, and it will become apparent in the future."

Investigative reporter Dan Moldea, working independently from the New Republic and The Hill, has informed HUSTLER that depositions by DeLay and others connected to Albo Pest may reveal that company funds were used to finance the Texan's campaign for Congress. Such a fiscal arrangement may have been in violation of federal election laws.

Media inquiries concerning Tom DeLay have deluged the HUSTLER offices since the beginning of Larry Flynt's campaign to expose hypocritical lawmakers. A wide spectrum of commentators and Congressmen, many from the Republican side of the aisle, would like to see the Hammer fall.

Two daunting rumors persist about Tom DeLay. One is that a photograph exists in which the Congressman is locked in a sexual embrace with a Mexican prostitute.  This elusive photo, if it indeed exists, was once thought to be in the possession of an editor at Newsweek

The second rumor is that DeLay has a grown daughter in the Lone Star State whose mother is not DeLay's wife.   Sources have stated that DeLay has paid support for this child throughout the past two decades, with checks coming, perhaps, from the coffers of Albo Pest. At one point last winter a flurry of inquiring Beltway reporters focused on Austin, Texas, hoping to uncover the speculative daughter's identity.

As of this point, neither rumor has been dispelled.

"This town [Washington] is full of rumors," said Tom DeLay in September 1998. "Unfortunately, most of the time, the rumors are true."


"I Am the Government"


The story I heard goes like this: Tom DeLay lights up a stogie in a restaurant, and a waiter comes over and says, "I'm sorry, sir, but this is a government building, and no smoking is permitted." To which Mr. DeLay, House majority leader extraordinaire, if I may resort to Freedom English in honor of Tom's until now secret admiration of Gustave Flaubert, barks, "I am the government."

That got me thinking. It's interesting to learn that Tom DeLay is the government. I didn't know that. So I looked in the Constitution and didn't find any mention of him. It must be an outdated edition. All it talked about was a government of we, the people.

Now some say the Constitution has always been sort of sly about what it means by "people." Used to be "people" meant no women, coloreds, or white guys without property need apply. But people has always been, as far as I can tell, you know, plural? So I looked that up too, and the dictionary said "people" still means no less than two persons. Like I said, it must be an old edition I'm using.

But then, I'm always mixing up kinds of words. For instance, take when people say life is unfair. Usually they say that when they want to explain why the deal they got is so much better than somebody else's. "Can I have some?" "No." "How come?" "Because." "But that's not fair?" "Who said life is fair?" Or sometimes it's because it just looks like too much work to do anything about it, especially when the guys with the remote have guns or worse, like Fox News. It's hard to argue with that.

Now when I hear "life's unfair," I get a funny look on my face, like I don't understand, but it's not because I disagree. Yeah, life's unfair, yessir, I'm with you on that. But I get that look because the way I see it, so what? Life's about adverbs, not adjectives. (Footnote: For those of you who sleeped through English, "unfair" is an adjective. I know that because I looked it up. But then, maybe the book I used was an outdated edition.) Okay, so life's unfair. How unfair is it? That's where adverbs come in. It's not about what kind; it's about how much.

So since I'm people, as far as I know, I can see why Tom DeLay might think fair is he gets everything, because legally, as the only guy mentioned in the Constitution, he's entitled to it, and everybody else gets secondhand smoke. That's only fair. It's democratic too. After all, as the entire government, he does represent a majority. Since democracy's what makes us free, it's our civic duty to uphold it against foes foreign and domestic by letting old Tom flick his cigar ash in our ears.

We've just got to trust him to do the right thing. When he came to this job of being the whole government and all he brought along years of on-the-job experience as a pest control technician to help with his work. What that taught him is the most reliable way to exterminate is to burn the house down. It's simple: no house, no problem. That's the sort of common sense Tom brings to Washington.

And now he's taking it to Iraq too. Take looting. That's how a country ought to run. You blow up and burn down and strip away what other folks took decades and centuries to build up and take it home with ya, first come, first served. That's what makes people productive. They've gotta be, because there's nothing left. Once they've got their values set right, they can come by and friends of Tom's can sell them back the stuff they took from them. That's free enterprise, which I thought must be in the Constitution, the way Tom's friends talk about it so highly, but I couldn't find it there. But again, it must be that old edition of mine.

Looks like I'm gonna have to invest in some up-to-date reading material, which I will do, once I find a job again. I'd borrow what I need from the library except it closed. The city hasn't got any money, so it asked the state, but the state has no money, so it asked Tom DeLay, but he's got no money either. He gave it all back to the taxpayers, he said. But since I'm not making any money I got none back. So I asked if maybe he could lend me some on account, but he said no, it's against his principles to support loafers, and besides, he's already borrowed all he can to pay his friends to bring democracy to Iraq, so how could I be so selfish to ask for some for myself?

I felt pretty bad about that, but he said that's okay. Just have faith in Jesus and everything'll work out fine. He sounded kind of choked up when he said that, because I could hear a sort of snorting every couple of words, and I would've asked him if he was all right if he hadn't hung up so quick. He is the government, after all, so I wouldn't want to cause him any troubles. He's depending on us to give him our support by minding our own business. So maybe I won't need to put out for that new Constitution anyway. Since it's about Tom DeLay, it's not really any of my business.

Jon Brown can be reached at:


Tom DeLay's funny-money trail.  The GOP strongman's political machine has stopped at nothing to extend its power. Now it's facing indictments for violating Texas campaign finance laws.
March 12, 2004 |
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Excerpts from a story by Lou Dubose at

The weekly pen-and-pad press briefings in the office suite of the house majority leader are almost formal events. Thirty to 40 reporters take their seats at a long table and at a second tier of chairs placed against the east and west walls. "The leader" enters, escorted by two aides, Jonathan Grella and Stuart Roy. Roy closes the door at the south end of the elegant dining room and stands beside his boss, who sits at the head of the table; Grella takes his position at the opposite end of the room. Tom DeLay takes his seat, opens with a bit of friendly banter, and begins to work through his agenda. There's so much decorum that DeLay's arrival and departure are almost ceremonial. And there is never any doubt about who is in control. The 56-year-old congressman from Sugar Land, Texas, is smart, authoritative and in charge.

Recently the leader's grip has begun to slip. The first press conference in February ended with a Fox TV news reporter pressing DeLay for answers about the ethics committee's failure to investigate allegations of bribery on the House floor. DeLay didn't respond. The last press conference in February ended with Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter Maria Recio asking about a campaign finance investigation in Texas. "That's not on the agenda," DeLay snapped.

Then he went on to answer the question with an unbidden attack on the "vindictive and partisan" district attorney in Austin.

The "vindictive and partisan" D.A. DeLay referred to is Ronnie Earle. For almost six months, Earle and a grand jury have been investigating possible violations of Texas campaign finance law in the 2002 election. Because the state capital lies within the jurisdiction of Travis County, Earle is far more powerful than the D.A.s in larger cities, such as Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. His Public Integrity Unit has a mandate and legislative funding to prosecute public officials who break the law. He's held office for 27 years, and is the only Democrat with statewide prosecutorial authority. His ongoing investigation of two political action committees that spent a combined $3.4 million on 22 Republican Texas House races is now focused on a PAC founded by DeLay and directed by a DeLay operative. "This is an attempt to criminalize politics," said a visibly angry DeLay. Ronnie Earle, he told reporters at his Feb. 24 press conference, is a "runaway prosecutor."

Before Jon Grella could cut off questioning, DeLay was asked about two of his close associates billing Indian tribes a staggering $45 million in lobbying and consulting fees. DeLay said Jack Abramoff had never been on his staff. And he warned: "Anybody trading on my name to get clients or to make money, that is wrong and they [should] stop it immediately." The warning was a little late. Mike Scanlon, the 33-year-old former press aide who helped coordinate DeLay's impeachment of President Clinton in 1998, had pocketed a $30 million cut of the fees paid by the Indian tribes. Abramoff resigned from his lobbying position. Sen. John McCain subpoenaed Abramoff's files. And the D.A. in Austin subpoenaed DeLay's daughter in a separate investigation.

It only gets worse.

Now it appears that Abramoff and Scanlon are "off the reservation" for good. And DeLay can't be much help to these associates facing a Senate inquiry. At the same time, the majority leader is confronted by grave problems in his home state. Just as he needs to distance himself from Abramoff -- a close friend and longtime member of his "kitchen cabinet" -- DeLay must to try to avoid the clutches of Ronnie Earle. The Travis County D.A., after all, can put him in a place and position he'd prefer to avoid: in an Austin courtroom under oath.

Prison is an unlikely fate for DeLay, though he is very close to the center of the investigation. It is equally unlikely for his daughter, Danielle Ferro. "She's not responsible for the fact that she was paid with illegal money, assuming a court decides the money was illegal," said an Austin attorney who asked to remain anonymous. But jail is not out of the question for DeLay's operatives in Texas, who are looking at third-degree felony charges that carry a 10-year sentence.

According to courthouse sources in Austin, some witnesses will soon begin to roll in what is being compared to the Sharpstown scandal of the early '70s: a banking stock scheme that sent the speaker of the house to jail, ended the career of the lieutenant governor, and fueled a reform movement aimed at curbing influence buying in the Legislature.

That's not to say Texas is no longer the wild west of campaign finance. You can't hand out checks on the Senate floor, as chicken tycoon Bo Pilgrim did in the late '80s. (A senator who didn't get a check said the $10,000 was a "poultry sum" he never would have accepted.) But when it comes to political contributions in the Great State, the only limit is the size of your bank account. Any citizen of the U.S. can give any amount to any elected official or candidate for public office. All you have to do is declare your contribution to the Texas Ethics Commission. Political action committees also are only restrained by the give-and-declare law.

There are two clear prohibitions: Corporate money and union money cannot be spent in election campaigns. The ban was passed into law in the early 1900s as a response to robber barons buying up railroads, timber, oil and legislators. A "speaker's statute," enacted after the Sharpstown scandal, prohibits a candidate for speaker of the house from handing checks to House members or candidates in exchange for support. It is these two state laws that have placed U.S. Majority Leader Tom DeLay and his handpicked speaker of the Texas House, Tom Craddick, under investigation by the Travis County Public Integrity Unit.

The back story is one of intrigue and power grabbing. Tom DeLay badly wanted to redraw the state's congressional districts to add some half-dozen Republican representatives to the Texas U.S. House delegation. To do so he required a Republican majority in the Texas statehouse.

For four election cycles, Craddick had been expanding that majority. Working with an Austin political operative (one of 58 individuals subpoenaed in Austin), Craddick did it the old-fashioned way: establishing a PAC, raising huge amounts of money, and spending it where Democrats were vulnerable. He was racing against the calendar. Republicans controlled the Senate. But they needed a majority in the House by 2001, so they could redraw the state's congressional districts after the 2000 census.

They fell a few seats short. And after the Democratic House and Republican Senate failed to reach an agreement on reapportionment in 2001, congressional district lines were redrawn by a panel of three federal judges. The Democrats had held the future at bay and it appeared that the Republicans would have to wait until the next census to redraw the lines. Or so the Democrats reasonably assumed, as reapportionment must be done in the first legislative session following the census. Republicans fell short, according to a party source quoted in the Texas Observer (which has extensively covered the story), because "the Hammer had too many balls in the air."

The Travis County D.A.'s investigation represents the first time any of DeLay's fundraising
operations have been subjected to legal scrutiny. An impotent Federal Election Commission
makes enforcement at the federal level improbable. Democrats filed a racketeering lawsuit
against DeLay in 1998 and actually got it certified by the same district judge who presided
over the Microsoft antitrust lawsuit in Washington. But they quickly folded and settled.
Now, Texas D.A. Ronnie Earle, with subpoena power and a staff of investigators and
lawyers, is doing what no one has thus far been able to accomplish. He is investigating the
Texas franchise of what in Washington is referred to as DeLay Inc. -- the largest funding
combine ever controlled by a single member of Congress. (It raised $12.6 million from

Earle is in no hurry and is expected to turn the findings over to a second grand jury in April,
when the term of grand jurors conducting the current investigation expires. A slow and
methodical investigation, if the past month suggests what's to come, cannot serve the
interests of Tom DeLay.

Compounding the majority leader's problems is Earle's separate, or perhaps parallel, criminal investigation of the Texas Association of Business whose PAC spent $1.9 million along with the $1.5 million TRMPAC spent on the 2002 election. There are also two civil suits filed by former Democratic legislators who have presented strong arguments that the Texas Association of Business and TRMPAC violated Texas election law. Legal pleadings, depositions and documents obtained in the pretrial discovery process for the civil suits, unlike grand jury proceedings, are public record unless sealed.

How did a bunch of supposedly shrewd political operatives make so many mistakes in one election campaign? In their arrogance they assumed no one would hold them accountable. The Texas attorney general is a former Karl Rove client, who has shown little interest in suing Republicans. The Legislature is firmly in control of the Republicans and unlikely to hold hearings on compliance with campaign finance law. And the only public statement Republican Gov. Rick Perry has made is a demand that "the appropriate authority" begin an investigation -- of Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle.

Earle is the one variable the wiseguys from TRMPAC failed to include in their equation. His Public Integrity Unit is funded by the Legislature and mandated to prosecute public corruption. But he has done little with that mandate since his 1994 prosecution of U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison -- for official misconduct and records tampering -- fell apart in the
courtroom when Earle declined to go forward with the case.

Now Earle is 62, nearing the end of his career, and faces no opponent in November. TRMPAC has presented him with a case he believes he cannot ignore. "He's really incensed about this stuff," said Joe Crews, an Austin attorney representing a former state legislator suing ARMPAC. "He really believes that this is where you have to draw the line in a democracy, if we are going to have a democratic process."

According to sources close to the case there is little doubt that indictments will be handed down. At the center of the investigation is John Colyandro, who showed up at a deposition for the civil suit with his criminal defense lawyer. Colyandro has reportedly been given limited immunity. Jim Ellis, who ran DeLay's Washington PAC and is hardly naive about campaign finance law, is dangerously close to the center of the inquiry. He directed TRMPAC and called most of the shots, and e-mails turned up in the civil suit connect him to the $190,000 TRMPAC sent to Washington. Bill Ceverha, Tom DeLay's roommate in "Macho Manor," a legendary 1980s legislators' party house, was the PAC treasurer and should have been aware of how money was raised and spent. Two Republican state reps served on the TRMPAC board and raised campaign money.

The majority leader himself may have enough of what Richard Nixon liked to call "plausible deniability" to avoid indictment. But he cannot claim he knew nothing, or even little, of what his PAC was doing in Texas. There are too many documents, e-mails and phone logs. Too many people are talking under oath, when the threat of going to jail for perjury encourages them to tell the truth. A Colyandro deposition in the civil suit already places DeLay squarely in the PAC's decision-making process: in conference calls and major decisions TRMPAC made. It's also part of the public record that DeLay was one of the founders of the PAC and served on its board.

Besieged by lawyers and investigators, Texas Republicans seem to be shifting from a litigation strategy to a legislative strategy. The state Republican Party is circulating a petition calling on the Legislature to shut down the Travis County D.A.'s Public Integrity Unit. A source close to the investigation says that the D.A. has been warned that the governor might take up the issue of funding in a special session. Should that occur, Earle will stand on his constitutional authority. The Legislature can take away his funding, but it cannot eliminate his authority to investigate and prosecute public corruption.

The district attorney will soldier on, even if his funding and staff are eliminated. Editorial boards from the state's major daily newspapers are supporting his efforts. He seems confident that he has both the law and the facts working for him. The threat to cut his funds won't work. "He'll go it alone, issuing grand jury subpoenas based on newspaper clips," the source said. "Ronnie's in this one for keeps and these guys are in deep shit."
- - - - - - - - - - - -
About the writer
Lou Dubose is the co-author, with Molly Ivins, of "Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America." He is currently writing a political biography of Tom DeLay for Public Affairs Press. In the interest of full disclosure, in 2000 he wrote a legal $50 hard-money check to his state representative in Austin, Ann Kitchen, who is currently suing TRMPAC.





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