April 15, 2005


10 Ex-G.O.P. Lawmakers Attack Changes in Ethics Rules



By PHILIP SHENON and SHERYL STOLBERG


WASHINGTON,
April 14 – Ten former members of Congress, all Republicans, joined in a
letter to the House leadership on Thursday to say they believed that
revisions in House ethics rules this year were an “obvious action to
protect Majority Leader Tom DeLay” from investigation. They said the
changes needed to be reversed “to restore public confidence in the
People’s House.”

The letter, to be presented Friday to Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, is
signed by Mark Andrews, a former member of both the Senate and the
House from North Dakota, and nine other former House Republicans. While
it offers no conclusion about the merits of ethics controversies now
swirling around Mr. DeLay, it says “the consensus in our respective
districts” is that “the previous admonitions to Mr. DeLay for casting
discredit on the House were well-merited.”

The letter may be another blow to Mr. DeLay, who is under
investigation by a grand jury in his home state, Texas, and is facing
growing calls from fellow Republicans to answer accusations involving
his financial ties to lobbyists and his management of his political and
campaign committees.

A spokesman, Dan Allen, said Mr. DeLay would withhold comment on the
letter until it had been received in the House. Spokesmen for Mr.
Hastert did not immediately return phone calls for comment.

The 10 onetime lawmakers who signed the letter, all of whom left
Congress before the late 1980’s, described themselves as former members
“who served under impeccably honest leaders.”

“We offer no judgment on Mr. DeLay’s actions in the obtaining of
funds and favors from lobbyists and foreign agencies, other than to
note that they are the subject of continuing disclosure and discussion
well outside the Beltway and in the heart of areas of strong respect
for traditional Republican values of honesty and accountability,” they
said. “We write not as a Revolt of the Elders but in the sincere hope
that you will act to restore public confidence in the People’s House.”

“We felt grave concern,” the letter added, “when the Republican
leadership changed the ethics rules several weeks ago to require a
bipartisan majority vote to even investigate a charge of ethical
misconduct. We saw it as an obvious action to protect Majority Leader
Tom DeLay.”

A copy of the letter, which called on House leaders “to reinstate
the old rules,” was provided to The New York Times by the Public
Campaign Action Fund, a private group that monitors campaign
fund-raising and has long been critical of Mr. DeLay.

Mr. DeLay was admonished three times by the House ethics committee
last year, in part for appearing to link his support for legislation to
political donations. The committee is now effectively shut down,
because Democrats object to the rules changes, which make it more
difficult to open an investigation. The changes allow an accusation to
be dismissed if the panel, which is equally divided between Democrats
and Republicans, deadlocks along party lines. In the past, the
investigation proceeded if the committee deadlocked.

On Thursday afternoon, Mr. DeLay defended the new rules in a tense
and exceptionally formal exchange on the House floor with
Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the Democratic whip. Mr.
Hoyer complained that the new rules would “preclude the investigator
from gathering the facts.” Mr. DeLay, on the other hand, maintained
that Mr. Hastert had developed the changes with an eye toward shielding
lawmakers from unfair allegations.

Apart from Mr. Andrews, those who signed the letter were John H.
Buchanan of Alabama, M. Caldwell Butler of Virginia, Paul Findley of
Illinois, Bud Hillis of Indiana, James Johnson of Colorado, Richard W.
Mallary of Vermont, Wiley Mayne of Iowa, Pete McCloskey of California
and G. William Whitehurst of Virginia.

Several were described during their Congressional careers as
moderates; the letter was drafted by Mr. McCloskey, who was often
described as a Republican maverick and who supported Senator John Kerry
last year over President Bush.

In a telephone interview, Mr. McCloskey said he had felt compelled
to prepare the letter because of his concern that “if the Republicans
circle their wagons around DeLay like they circled their wagons around
Richard Nixon, it may have the same result.”

The letter was not the only development Thursday with possible
implications for the majority leader. Representative George Miller,
Democrat of California, asked the House Resources Committee to examine
the work of Jack Abramoff, a longtime lobbyist friend of Mr. DeLay, in
representing the government of the Northern Mariana Islands, an
American commonwealth in the Pacific.

In 1995, Mr. Abramoff, with Mr. DeLay’s help, persuaded the House to
defeat a bill that would have stripped the Marianas of their exemption
from federal minimum wage and immigration laws. From 1996 to 1998, Mr.
Miller said, more than 85 members of Congress and Congressional aides,
including Mr. DeLay, traveled to the Marianas; Mr. Miller and others
have cited news reports suggesting that lobbyists may have paid for the
trips, a possible violation of House rules.
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Tom Delay, I would like to say thanks for proving that Conservatives are full of shit.

Reagan sucked as a president.  Both G.H.W. Bush and his
ape-like son are bad leaders also.  I would also like to take a
moment to thank my posters.  I don’t block people from posting
becuase I believe in freedom for all, and I am not a closed minded 17
year old bigot hypocrite.

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