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Tom DeLay

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U.S. Representative Tom DeLay (R-Texas)

Tom DeLay (born April 8, 1947) is an American Republican politician from Sugar Land, Texas and current Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. He is well-known for his conservative stances on foreign and domestic policy issues.

Contents

Biography and early political career

DeLay was born on April 8, 1948 in Laredo, Texas, and lived part of his childhood in Venezuela due to his father's work in the oil and gas industry. DeLay received a biology degree from the University of Houston in 1970 [1] (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A6825-2001May9&no) DeLay also had a successful career as an exterminator.

He was elected to the Texas State House in 1978 where he continued his party antics. By his own admission, DeLay was drinking "8, 10, 12 martinis a night at receptions and fundraisers." [2] (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A6825-2001May9&no) He then was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1984, representing the Texas 22nd Congressional District of Sugar Land (map (http://nationalatlas.gov/printable/images/preview/congdist/tx22_109.gif)), and became a born-again Christian in 1985.

DeLay and his wife, Christine, have a daughter, Danielle. After Christine DeLay began volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in foster care, they also became foster parents.

Congressional career

As a member of the Republican minority in the 1980s, DeLay made a name for himself while criticizing the National Endowment for the Arts and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

DeLay was made a deputy whip by then-Minority Whip Dick Cheney in 1988. When the Republican Party (GOP) gained control of the House of Representatives in 1994, DeLay was elected Majority Whip against the wishes of Speaker-elect Newt Gingrich.

DeLay was not always on good terms with either Gingrich or House Majority Leader and fellow Texan Dick Armey, considering them uncommitted to Christian values, and in 1997 DeLay tried to upstage Gingrich in a parliamentary coup. Nevertheless, in the heyday of the 104th Congress (1995-1997), DeLay described the Republican leadership this way: Gingrich was the "visionary", Armey the "policy wonk", and DeLay himself was "the ditch digger who makes it all happen."

As Majority Whip, DeLay earned the nickname "The Hammer," for his enforcement of party discipline in close votes and his reputation for wreaking political vengeance on opponents. DeLay likes his nickname, pointing out that the hammer is one of a carpenter's most valuable tools. In the 104th Congress DeLay successfully whipped 300 out of 303 bills.

Majority Leader

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The Hammer was an in-depth biography of Tom Delay published in 2004.

After serving as Whip for eight years, DeLay was elected Majority Leader upon the retirement of Dick Armey in 2002. His tenure as Majority Leader has been marked by strong Republican party discipline in close votes, and the use of parliamentary political techniques to preserve his party's control of the House. DeLay has also been known to "primary" Republicans who resist his votes (threatening to endorse and support a Republican primary challenge to the disobedient Representative), and, like many of his predecessors in Congress, uses promises of future committee chairmanships to bargain for support among the rank and file members of the party.</p>

Employing a method known as "catch and release," DeLay has allowed centrist or moderate conservative Republicans to take turns voting against controversial bills. If a Congressman says a bill is unpopular in his district, DeLay will only make him vote for it if his vote is necessary for passage; if his vote is not needed, he or she will be allowed to vote against the party without reprisal. In the 108th Congress, a preliminary Medicare vote passed 216-215, a vote on Head Start passed 217-216, a vote on school vouchers for Washington, DC passed 209-208, and "Fast track," aka "trade promotion authority," passed by one vote as well. Some see these close votes as indicative of DeLay's strategy to enable the minimum number of Republicans to vote in favor of these bills. Both political supporters and opponents have remarked on DeLay's ability to sway the votes of his party. DeLay is also noted for involving lobbyists in the process of passing House bills. Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose, authors of Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America and Shrub: The Short But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush also authored a critical biography of DeLay which quotes a lobbyist as saying, "I've had members pull me aside and ask me to talk to another member of Congress about a bill or amendment, but I've never been asked to work on a bill - at least like they are asking us to whip bills now." (The Hammer, 93) Like many successful incumbents, DeLay's ability to raise money gives him additional influence. Two-thirds of the way through the 2004 election cycle, DeLay raised $2.28 million compared to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert's $1.68 million. Partly as a result of Tom DeLay's management abilities, the House Republican caucus under him has displayed unprecedented, sustained party cohesion. In 2001 DeLay defied the president when he refused to extend Bush's tax cuts to people making between $10,500 and $26,625 a year; when reporters asked DeLay about what he would do about the low-income tax cuts DeLay simply stated it "ain't going to happen." When Ari Fleischer reiterated the president's desire for a low-income tax cut, DeLay retorted "the last time I checked they [the executive branch] don't have a vote."[3] (http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/11/politics/11BUSH.html?ex=1114142400&en=83615c7410ce8b25&ei=5070&pagewanted=all&position=) DeLay even defied Bush on the badly wanted energy bill. DeLay refused to support a version of the energy bill that did not retroactively protect the makers of the gasoline additive MTBE from lawsuits. (Ibid) On economic policy, DeLay is rated a 95 out of 100 by the anti-tax Americans for Tax Reform, and 95 to 100 by the United States Chamber of Commerce, a business lobby. On environmental policy, he earned ratings of 0 from the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters. He has been a fervent critic of the EPA, which he has called the "Gestapo of government"[4] (http://www.cnn.com/EARTH/9512/congress_enviro/). DeLay has also sided with business owners over labor unions and is against gun control. DeLay blames Senate Democrats and what he dubbed "BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything) environmentalists" for blocking legislative solutions to problems such as the 2003 North America blackout. [5] (http://www.washtimes.com/national/20030818-122326-3716r.htm) His Christian conservative viewpoint led him to vote 100% in line with the views of the National Right-to-Life Committee and 0% with the National Abortion Reproductive Rights Action League. In foreign policy, DeLay has been a strong supporter of the State of Israel, saying, "The Republican leadership, especially that leadership in the House, has made pro-Israel policy a fundamental component of our foreign policy agenda and it drives the Democrat leadership crazy--because they just can't figure out why we do it!" [6] (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5822374/) On a 2003 trip to Israel, DeLay toured the nation and addressed members of the Knesset. His opposition to land concessions is so strong that the right-wing National Union Party deputy Aryeh Eldad remarked, "as I shook his hand, I told Tom DeLay that until I heard him speak, I thought I was farthest to the right in the Knesset." [7] (http://archives.lists.indymedia.org/imc-houston/2003-July/007223.html) Former Mossad chief Danny Yatom said "The Likud is nothing compared to this guy." (The Hammer, 236)

Controversies and accusations

DeLay and Terri Schiavo

DeLay also made headlines for his role in the Terri Schiavo controversy. On Palm Sunday weekend in March 2005, several days after the brain-damaged Florida woman's feeding tube was disconnected for the third time, DeLay and other House Republicans met in emergency session to pass a bill allowing Schiavo's parents to petition the removal of the feeding tube to a federal judge. DeLay called the removal of the feeding tube "an act of barbarism." He also said, in reference to the Supreme Court judges who had refused to hear the case when Schiavo's parents appealed the tube removal, that "there will come a time for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior." DeLay publicly apologized for the remark after being accused of threatening the Supreme Court. DeLay also faced charges of hypocrisy from his critics when the Los Angeles Times revealed that he had consented to ending the life support for his own father, who was in a comatose state because of a debilitating accident in 1988. [8] (http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2005/03/27/MNGTRBVFV01.DTL)

DeLay's defense of Quayle

In 1988, when questions were raised about then-Republican vice-presidential nominee Dan Quayle's apparent use of family connections to get into the Indiana National Guard and thus avoid possible combat service in the Vietnam War, DeLay reportedly defended (http://slate.msn.com/id/1002713/|) Quayle by saying that he had tried to enlist himself at the same age, but was told ethnic minorities had already filled most of the available positions and there were none left for him.

No one close to him could say whether he made any other attempt to serve, and later The Washington Post reported that he had received student deferments while at Baylor, gotten a high lottery number in 1969 and then gotten married prior to his 1970 graduation from Houston.

However, he had been asked to withdraw from Baylor for a semester and managed to keep his student deferement during that time, which has never been explained.

Settlement in civil suit

In early 1999, as the House vote on impeaching president Bill Clinton neared (a vote DeLay had worked very hard to ensure would succeed), Anne-Louise Bardach [9] (http://www.tnr.com/archive/0299/021599/bardach021599.html) at The New Republic picked up a story first reported by Houston-area alternative weeklies (1 (http://www.texasobserver.org/showArticle.asp?ArticleID=964)) alleging that DeLay himself had committed perjury during a civil lawsuit brought against him by a former business partner in 1994.

The plaintiff in that suit, Robert Blankenship, had charged that DeLay and a third partner in Albo Pest Control had breached the partnership agreement by trying to force him out of the business without buying him out, and filed suit against DeLay, charging him and the other partner with breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, wrongful termination, loss of corporate expectancy, and injunctive relief. While being deposed in that suit, DeLay claimed that he didn't think he was an officer or director of Albo and believed he had resigned two or three years ago (2 (http://www.americanpolitics.com/012999DISpatch.html)). Yet his own congressional disclosure forms, including one filed subsequent to the deposition state that he was either president or chairman of the company between 1985 and 1994. The plaintiff also alleged that Albo money had been spent on DeLay's congressional campaigns, in violation of federal and state law.

DeLay and Blankenship settled for an undisclosed sum, and Blankenship's attorney told Bardach that had he known about the congressional disclosure forms, he would have referred the case to the Harris County district attorney's office for a perjury prosecution. These allegations have never been investigated and DeLay has never been charged.



DeLay and Jack Abramoff

The Associated Press, reported on Wed, April 07, 2005 "DeLay's political action committee did not reimburse lobbyist Jack Abramoff for the May 2000 use of the skybox, instead treating it as a type of donation that didn't have to be disclosed to election regulators at the time.

The skybox donation, valued at thousands of dollars, came just three weeks before DeLay accepted a trip to Europe including golf with Abramoff at the world-famous St. Andrews course for himself, his wife and aides that was underwritten by some of the lobbyist's clients.

Two months after the concert and trip, DeLay voted against gambling legislation opposed by some of Abramoff's Indian tribe clients." [10] (http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20050420/ap_on_go_co/delay_skybox&e=6&ncid=)

Ethics investigations

In May of 2002, DeLay's daughter, Danielle Ferro, was given a baby shower at the offices of Reliant Energy, a Texas-based energy company which is a major contributor to DeLay's political action committees. Also in attendance was lobbyist Jack Abramoff, whose name has appeared in other investigations of corruption charges leveled against DeLay. Ferro was the manager of the committee which received the Reliant contributions. The next month, DeLay hosted a golf tournament to which Reliant contributed $25,000. The contribution was not reported as a campaign contribution. In October of 2002, the House ethics committee rebuked DeLay for his involvement in the contribution and failure to report it.

During the summer of 2004, DeLay was investigated for ethical violations stemming from complaints filed by Democratic Representative Chris Bell of Texas.

On September 30, 2004, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (the "Ethics Committee") found that DeLay had violated House rules in 2003 in his efforts to pass a bill concerning health care. The committee admonished DeLay for having made an offer to Representative Nick Smith, who was retiring, that DeLay would endorse Smith's son for the seat if Smith would vote in favor of the bill. This admonishment caused the conservative-leaning Judicial Watch to issue a call for DeLay to resign as Majority Leader.

On October 6, 2004, the Ethics Committee admonished DeLay for a second time, this time for violations stemming from the Bell complaint. Specifically, it stated that he should not have asked the Federal Aviation Administration to track a small plane that he believed to be carrying Democratic Texas state legislators, who were fleeing to Oklahoma from Texas to prevent a quorum, thus stopping a redistricting plan they did not approve of.

The panel also admonished DeLay for his dealings with Westar Energy, a Kansas-based firm; it cited memos from Westar stating that they believed $56,000 in donations to DeLay's PAC and others would get them "a seat at the table". Subsequently, DeLay appeared at a Westar-hosted golf fundraiser, "just as the House-Senate conference on major energy legislation...was about to get underway". This, the conference stated, violated the requirement that lawmakers may not solicit political donations "that may create even the appearance" that they will lead to special access or special treatment.

However, the committee decided to delay action on Bell's third charge, dealing with improper fundraising by the DeLay-headed Texans for a Republican Majority PAC; Bell charged that it improperly raised funds from corporations to channel to local Texas legislative races. The matter is currently being investigated by a grand jury in Travis County, Texas.

On September 21, 2004, the grand jury indicted three members of Texans for a Republican Majority, including its executive director, on charges of money laundering and accepting illegal campaign contributions. DeLay and his supporters contended that this investigation and the indictments were politically motivated maneuvers by the Democratic Travis County, Texas District Attorney Ronnie Earle - a controversial and colorful political figure with a history of pursuing unconventional indictments against elected officials including Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Fearing a possible indictment of DeLay, which they felt would be politically motivated, House Republicans made a November 17, 2004 change to an early 1990s rule that forced House Leaders to step down if indicted. The new rules allowed a committee to review any indictment to determine whether it was politically motivated. If not, the indicted House Leader would be required to step down. However, a firestorm of protest from citizens, as well as from rank-and-file Republicans, forced DeLay himself to back off from the rule change on January 3, 2005.

On November 18, 2004, the Ethics Committee also issued a statement admonishing Bell, advising him that his accusation violated a rule barring "innuendo, speculative assertions or conclusory statements". DeLay responded by criticizing Bell as well as Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

On March 10, 2005, news reports stated that "A delegation of Republican House members including Majority Leader Tom DeLay accepted an expense-paid trip to South Korea in 2001 from a registered foreign agent despite House rules that bar the acceptance of travel expenses from foreign agents, according to government documents and travel reports filed by the House members."

On April 6, 2005, the New York Times reported [11] (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/06/politics/06delay.html) that Tom DeLays Political Action Committee (PAC) has paid over $500,000 to members of his family including his wife and only daughter. In documents filed with Federal Election Commission these payments were identified as "fund-raising fees," "campaign management" and "payroll.

On April 6, 2005, the Washington Post reported [12] (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A28319-2005Apr5.html) that a firm lobbying on behalf of Government of Russia paid for a 1997 Russian trip by Tom DeLay and four of his staff members. The trip was undertaken during the time United States Congress was considering a number of bills relating to Russia including a loan package by International Monetary Fund to help the then fragile Russian Economy.

On the same day, ABC News reported that, in 1997, DeLay, his wife and daughter, and several aides accompanied Jack Abramoff to the United States commonwealth of Saipan. At the time, Abramoff was working as a lobbyist for the law firm of Preston Gates Ellis and Rouvelas Meeds LLP, and had received $1.36 million in order to stop federal legislation aimed at cracking down on sweatshops and sex shops on the island.

April 20, 2005 marked the day that the House ethics panel officially announced that it was launching a thorough investigation of DeLay. DeLay pledged to face the panel. The panel-selected group that will investigate DeLay, however, will include no Democratic members of the House of Representatives, who dispute the current organization of the House Ethics committee.

Law & Order

In May of 2005, the hit NBC television drama, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, used DeLay's name in a negative way. On the show, a law enforcement agent, investigating homicides of several judges, said, "Maybe we should put out an APB for somebody in a Tom Delay T-Shirt." The show was apparently referring to the threatening comments Delay made about Supreme Court justices during the Terri Schiavo controversy. Delay responded by writing to Jeff Zucker, president of Universal Television Group: "This manipulation of my name and trivialization of the sensitive issue of judicial security represents a reckless disregard for the suffering initiated by recent tragedies and a great disservice to public discourse." The producer of the show, Dick Wolf, replied that "these shows are works of fiction". Wolf also commented, "But I do congratulate Congressman DeLay for switching the spotlight from his own problems to an episode of a television show."

Legislative work

Delay initiated the "safe harbor" provision for MTBE in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, together with Rep. Joe Barton. [13] (http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/04/21/energy.bill.mtbe.ap/),[14] (http://66.102.7.104/search?q=cache:Caya6UkgOrkJ:www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7574562/+MTBE&hl=en)

References

  • Dubose, Lou; & Reid, Jan (2004). The Hammer: Tom DeLay: God, Money, and the Rise of the Republican Congress. PublicAffairs. ISBN 1586482386.

See also

External links

Template:Wikiquote

Official U.S. Government Tom DeLay links

U.S. Government links on DeLay's ethics issues

Press reports on DeLay (pro and con)

Citizen groups critical of DeLay


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