Saturday, October 02, 2004

Hammer to the Slammer? 

Speaking of indestructible monsters (see "Glenda Hood" below), just how far does a corrupt, influence-peddling, money-laundering, bribe-offering Bug Man have to go before the Republican Party decides he's no longer an asset as House Majority Leader?
With House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, now involved directly or tangentially in a handful of ethics cases and investigations, some analysts say another setback could substantially weaken the lawmaker's ability to champion Republican causes and candidates.

DeLay's bare-knuckle tactics have sparked controversy and Democratic ire for years, but Thursday's 62-page House ethics committee report highlighted DeLay's questionable arm-twisting of GOP members when crucial votes are at stake. The panel admonished him for offering a political favor in exchange for Rep. Nick Smith's support of a major Medicare prescription drug bill late last year.

The report's conclusion marked the second time in five years that the ethics committee has chastised DeLay. A third setback, which conceivably could come from a pending complaint, would fuel critics' claims that DeLay has crossed an ethical threshold, several analysts said Friday.

House Republicans still support their majority leader, party members said. But they are warily eyeing the pending complaint, along with a Texas grand jury's recent indictment of three of DeLay's political associates on fund-raising charges . . . .

Because the Texas indictments stem from allegations central to the pending complaint, Ornstein said, the ethics panel, known as the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, will be under political and public pressure to at least start a formal investigation before Congress adjourns next month.

That could be enough to trigger a new round of attacks on DeLay that -- even if the investigation eventually proves fruitless -- would give the impression his ethical problems have reached critical mass, some Democrats and liberal groups said. "The rebuke of Tom DeLay by the ethics committee is yet another ethical cloud hanging over the Capitol," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
UPDATE: Mere minutes after posting the above we stopped by War and Piece, and according to Laura Rozen, word on the street in D.C. is that DeLay is done. Rozen also describes a few of the Hammer's less-than-savory business associates and links to a Douglas Farah post on Viktor Bout, the Russian gun-runner and diamond smuggler whose recent exploits as a DoD contractor in Iraq have been so ably chronicled by our valued colleague the Yorkshire Ranter.

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