E-mails: DeLay Knew Abramoff Paid for Golf Trip in 2000

Monday, May 15, 2006 at 05:38 PM

So the other day, the news wires report that there are e-mails showing that "Tom DeLay's office knew that lobbyist Jack Abramoff had arranged the financing for the GOP leader's controversial European golfing trip in 2000 and was concerned "if someone starts asking questions.""

If you've forgotten--keeping up with Republican indictments, investigations and accusations has become a full time job--this is the 2000 trip to London and Scotland during which then-House Majority Whip DeLay supposedly conducted business as well as having a handy little golf vacation.  Problems popped up when it turned out that the trip's expenses had been charged to an American Express card issued to Jack Abramoff, contrary to DeLay's report to congress that the trip had been funded by the GOP group "National Center for Public Policy Research."  It also developed that Abramoff had two of his lobbying clients, including one Indian tribe, funnel money to the National Center for Public Policy Research to cover the cost of the trip.

This is all a problem because the House ethics rules bar acceptance of any travel funds from private sources if doing so would "create the appearance of using public office for private gain," and, knowing the quality of character in the House, also obligate lawmakers to "make inquiry on the source of the funds that will be used to pay" for travel when that travel appears to be financed by a nonprofit organization--pretty much anticipating the very game apparently played by Abramoff and DeLay.

Now it turns out that prosecutors have e-mails showing that, when DeLay's office began preparing the required disclosure reports for the free trip, his aides sought the cost figures from Abramoff's lobbying firm, not the GOP group.

But wait, didn't Tom DeLay swear, in tears or the next best thing, that he was totally innocent of violating House ethics rules that prohibit having travel paid for by lobbyists?  Sure enough:

DeLay on March 18 [2005] portrayed criticism of his trips and close ties to lobbyists as the product of a conspiracy to "destroy the conservative movement" by attacking its leaders, such as himself. "This is a huge, nationwide, concerted effort to destroy everything we believe in," DeLay told supporters at the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group.

In fact, in his letter resigning the post of House Majority Leader, DeLay said:

During my time in Congress, I have always acted in an ethical manner within the rules of our body and the laws of our land. I am fully confident time will bear this out.

And even Karl Rove, that bastion of trustworthiness and ethics, vouched for DeLay:

They [critics and prosecutors] are just desperate. We strongly support Tom DeLay. He's a good man, a close ally of this administration."

So how does Tom DeLay explain the news that his office knew to ask Abramoff for the cost figures, if he supposedly thought that the trip was being funded by the National Center for Public Policy Research?  You didn't really think that such practices liars would be caught speechless, did you?

The wire story in the Houston Chronicle says:

DeLay's lawyer said Friday he believes the congressman's office asked Abramoff, instead of the GOP group, for the trip costs because the group's top executive was on maternity leave. He noted Abramoff served as director for the group listed as paying for the trip.

"The way I read this was that staff was trying to get it right," lawyer Richard Cullen said of the e-mails. "His (DeLay's) goal and his marching orders to his staff was to do it correctly. And I think staff tried to do it correctly."

He never stops trying to do the right thing.  He just happens to be cursed, so that the endless effort to do right looks like an endless effort to do wrong.

Lets hope the same reversal of intent and result applies to the Hammer's prognostications on the 2006 congressional elections. DeLay appeared last week on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," to tell George that ""None of these [ethics scandals, either his own or those of other Republicans] will affect the races." He flat out said that there will be no defeat for the Republican Congress in November.