DeLay's Dirty Trick

Monday, August 01, 2005 at 10:02 AM

How do you know when your money just got sent to some corporation you never heard of?  When the action takes place in a legislature at 4 a.m.

DeLay's Dirty Trick
By Ari Berman, The Nation


House Majority Leader Tom DeLay took this shady scheming to a new low last week, when he "mysteriously inserted" a $1.5 billion sweetheart deal for Houston oil companies into a massive energy bill that supposedly had been finalized. The provision, according to the sharp eye of Rep. Henry Waxman, stipulates that 75 percent of the $1.5 billion allocated for deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico must go toward "a corporation that is constructed as a consortium."

The leading contender for the contract just happens to be the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America consortium, based in DeLay's Sugar Land, Texas, district. Its members include war profiteer Halliburton and Marathon Oil, under SEC investigation for bribing the president of Equatorial Guinea for oil rights. Governor Rick Perry created the consortium in March 2004, promising 1,500 jobs. "None had been created as of last December," AP reports.

The provision was apparently added at 4 am last Tuesday, after House Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton, a favored son of big oil, halted all amendments and wrapped up the House and Senate conference. Amazingly, the ranking Democrats on the House and Senate energy committees knew of DeLay's plans, and did nothing to oppose them. The dispute only emerged after Waxman and Rep. Edward Markey learned of the provision, and its intended beneficiaries in DeLay's district.