No Speaker DeLay:Ethics rulings should cap majority leader's riseEditorial Board, Dallas Morning News
October 12, 2004
GOP House Majority Leader Tom DeLay escaped an independent counsel investigation last week. But the Texas Republican's now damaged goods. It's hard to see him ever becoming speaker of the House.
The House voted along party lines to reject siccing an outside counsel on Rep. DeLay. That's just as well. The vote was a Democratic trick to get Republicans to support their controversial colleague, knowing they could use the vote against Republicans in tight congressional races.
An outside counsel's not necessary because the House ethics committee has all but stopped the Sugar Land representative's rise to the speaker's job. Look at the panel's vote. All 10 members of the panel, which included five Republicans and five Democrats, supported rebuking Mr. DeLay for three violations.
The committee got him for offering an endorsement for a colleague's vote. They slapped him for using a federal agency to track down Texas Democrats during last year's redistricting debate. And they reprimanded him for appearing to give donors access before an energy bill debate.
When you add those rulings to the two warnings Mr. DeLay drew during the 1990s for retaliating against a lobbyist and soliciting contributions on federal property, the man's got a problem. Even sympathetic Republicans would have a hard time voting for a speaker candidate with five citations.
Sure, the skillful legislator has built up chits. That's partly because the conservative's been pragmatic enough to reward both conservative and moderate Republicans. The Hammer's not all firebrand.
But the sheer volume of charges is hard to ignore. It smacks of a pattern of abuse. Worse, it reveals a contempt for how the House should work. This business of getting an agency to track down Texas Democrats was about as brazen as it gets.