Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life: <i>It's a beautiful day...</i> .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

It's a beautiful day...

Smith may face conflict in future DeLay investigation
DeLay's political fund linked to Texas group

Looking at the weather channel this morning, it seemed like it was going to be a dreary day. Rain, and temperatures in the 50s. Sure, that may seem like an improvement in most parts of the country, but here in paradise, it's dreary.

But, lo and behold, it's turned out to be a beautiful day after all. Not because of the weather, it's still cold and rainy, but because of developements in the political climate.

Tom DeLay, a bane to most of us of a progressive bent, who "never backs down from a fight" is strangely silent. It seems that the civil lawsuit, i.e. "partisan attack" brought forth by the "whining losers" in his power grab for the Texas Legislature, is bringing things to light that may lead to more than just admonishments from the House Ethics Committee.

A House ethics committee member helped raise money for a Texas political committee associated with Majority Leader Tom DeLay, presenting a possible conflict if the congressional panel investigates DeLay's role in a fund-raising controversy.

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, was listed as a special guest and speaker in 2002 for Texans for a Republican Majority. While investigating DeLay's conduct last year, the House committee deferred - but did not dismiss - a complaint that DeLay, R-Texas, used the same political committee to solicit corporate contributions in violation of state law.

"Your support today will go directly to help Republican candidates in Texas successfully run and win their campaigns," according to one invitation from the political committee for a Sept. 23, 2002, breakfast reception with Smith and Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-Texas. Suggested donations ranged from $25 to $10,000.

As you know (if you're one of the elite few who've been reading this blog ot others like it), Smith was appointed to the ethics committee after others who let their morals get in the way of the Party Line were dismissed. Now it seems that the strategy has backfired, and may raise ethics questions of its own if (or when) ethics charges are filed against DeLay.

Documents in court are exposing numerous instances where the lines blur between ARMPAC, which is allowed to give money to candidates, and TRMPAC, which is not.

Tsk, tsk. And it was all hidden so well, and would never have been noticed if this "vindictive" suit hadn't been filed.

Smith's role in the fund raising is the latest controversy involving the ethics committee and DeLay. The Republican-controlled House this year changed the rules for ethics probes, contending greater fairness was needed toward members under investigation.

Democrats are trying to overturn those changes, arguing they were designed to block any new investigations of DeLay by requiring at least one Republican vote to proceed.

In an ethics committee that has five members from each party, Democrats have caused a 5-5 partisan split over adopting the new rules, preventing the committee from conducting any business.

The committee admonished DeLay last year for appearing to link legislation to political donations, for offering to support the House candidacy of a lawmaker's son in return for a vote, and for asking federal aviation officials to help track down Texas Democratic lawmakers who fled their capital during a redistricting dispute.

Meanwhile, a further indication of DeLay's downward spiral is that Dubya feels the need to defend him during a press conference while also defending his policies in Iraq and his Social Security destruction plan.

"I have confidence in Tom DeLay's leadership and I have confidence in Tom DeLay," the president said at a White House news conference. "And we've worked closely with Tom DeLay and the leaders in the House to get a lot done during the last four years, and I'm looking forward to working with him to get a lot done in the next four years."

So far, the things they've gotten done include driving the economy into the ground, eliminating the freedoms of the average American, and isolated us from the rest of the world. What's left to do? With DeLay backed into a corner, and Bush trying to cement his legacy as a war president, that's a scary question to answer.

But I don't want to think about that just now. Now's the time to savor the sweet smell of success. Tomorrow we'll tackle the next battle. Tonight it's a glass of wine, some good company, and the knowledge that our country isn't completely screwed yet.

And that's more than I can say for how it looked last week...


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