Friday, April 15, 2005

Former Republican U.S. Lawmakers Accuse House of Protecting DeLay

Why does this initiative come from FORMER Republican lawmakers? Where are the ones currently in power? Are they afraid of Bush/Cheney/Rove retribution or are they simply lacking an ethical backbone.

Found on Reuter's this afternoon.

Ex-Lawmakers Accuse House of Protecting DeLay
Fri Apr 15, 2005 03:02 PM ET
By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ten former Republican U.S. lawmakers on Friday urged a reversal of new House of Representatives ethics rules that they charged were changed to protect Majority Leader Tom DeLay from further investigation.

In an open letter to Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois, the former lawmakers said the rule changes early this year, which make it more difficult to probe an ethics complaint, must be reversed "to restore public confidence in the people's House."

"We felt grave concern when the Republican leadership changed the ethics rules ... We saw it as an obvious action to protect Majority Leader Tom DeLay," the letter said.

The letter came as Democrats stepped up their campaign against the Texas Republican, whom they have made a top target in next year's congressional elections, with a new Web site highlighting allegations about him.

The former Republican lawmakers offered no judgment about recent ethical questions facing DeLay, but wrote that there was a consensus in their districts that "previous admonishments to Mr. DeLay for casting discredit on the House were well merited."

DeLay was admonished by the House ethics committee last year on three separate matters involving what critics denounced as strong-armed political tactics.

In recent weeks, DeLay, who has denied wrongdoing, has been confronted with questions about ties to lobbyists, foreign trips funded by outside groups and use of campaign funds.

Hastert had no immediate response to the letter. A leadership aide seemed to dismiss it, noting one of the signers, former Rep. Pete McCloskey of California, opposed President Bush in last year's election.

"It is always good to get feedback from former Republican members, particularly those who endorsed (Democratic) Sen. (John) Kerry for president," the aide said.

Many fellow House Republicans have publicly rallied to DeLay's side, agreeing with him that he has become the victim of unfair partisan attacks.

Some, however, have voiced private concerns, particularly about a continuing grand-jury probe in Texas that indicted some DeLay associates last year on charges of illegal fund-raising.

President Bush on Thursday defended DeLay as "a very effective leader."

In addition to McCloskey, other signers of the letter included Mark Andrews of North Dakota, a moderate who served in the House and Senate between the 1960s and 1980s.

Others, all of whom served in the House in the same era were: John Buchanan of Alabama; M. Caldwell Butler of Virginia; Paul Findley of Illinois; Bud Hillis of Indiana; James Johnson of Colorado; Richard Mallary of Vermont; Wiley Mayne of Iowa, and G. William Whitehurst of Virginia.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee unveiled a web site on Friday to serve as a "clearinghouse for information" about allegations about the Texas Republican.

The site, headlined "Tom Delay's House of Scandal," can be found at

"I think the American people will find this useful," James Carville, who was a political strategist for former President Bill Clinton, said in helping the committee announce the site.

(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell)

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