Tom Delay


"Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay first came to power promising to restore democracy to the House of Representatives, supposedly suffering from then-Speaker Jim Wright's tyrannical regime. Even after the Rs drove Wright from office, however, bipartisanship was out of the question for DeLay. In the budget fight and government shutdown of 1995, for instance, DeLay rejected compromise and famously said, "It's time for all-out war."

"I never minded DeLay being a tough guy--it was his syrupy claims to carry the banner for Christianity that I found offensive, as he frog-marched the House toward being a cash-operated special-interest machine. The idea of putting pressure on lobbyists to gie only to Republicans, pressuring lobbying firms into hiring only Republicans and then letting lobbyists sit at the table during committee meetings where legislation was written--it was just screaming overt corruption.

"Tom DeLay and Newt Gingrich turned the US House of Representatives, "the people's house," into a pay-for-play machine for corporations. Put in enough money, get your special tax exemption, get your earmarked government contract, get your trade legislation and your environmental exemption, get rid of safety regulation" (Molly Ivins. "WWTD: What Would Tom Do?" Texas Observer, April 21, 2006: 14).


"The scheme that cost former Majority Leader Tom DeLay his US House seat was built on a machine that extracted money from K Street lobbyists to fuel Republican political campaigns and fund a stunningly extravagant lifestyle for lobbyists and members of Congress who would deliver critical votes...

"That direct line to the corporate lobby funded DeLay's rise to power. By 2003 his fundraising operation was to bringing in $12,785 a day--far surpassing anything ever done by a member of the US House" (Lou Dubose. "Divine Intervention." Texas Observer, April 21, 2006: 3).


"... the island of Saipan is a tropical paradise... the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands... remote out-post of America... offered a vision of what the nation might look like if Tom DeLay had his deregulatory way... Saipan was his grand experiment -- a construction of the world as he wished it to be...

"Tan and other venture capitalists had realized they could create a garment industry that was fully protected by U.S. trade laws and virtually immune to the obstructions of federal regulation. Imports from the U.S. came into the Marianas duty-free and without quotas, and exports from the islands moved past U.S. Customs without stirring so much as a breeze. For the venture capitalists on Saipan, the commonwealth status enabled them to circumvent quotas on Chinese textile exports to the United States. The investment capital behind the factories was largely Chinese. The plants were run like factories in China. Even the fabric was Chinese.

"All the capitalists needed was a labor force... The Marianas capitalists instead contracted with recruitment squads that roved the provinces of China, the Philippines, Thailand, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and other Asian countries... Typically, the recruits were obligated to pay $5,000 to $7,000 for the privilege of signing one-year labor contracts... They were indentured workers, at best...

"Their new homes were security-fenced compounds set far back in the jungle. With maybe a sheet thrown over a cord for privacy, the women slept on cots, as many as ten jammed in one small room. They had a dripping showerhead with no provacy or hot water, and a single toilet they lined up to share. Rats and cockroaches roamed freely. On the one day each week they were allowed to leave the compound, they were let out through a gate in a security fence by an armed guard. They had an early curfew, and knew better than to miss it.

"There were about thirty factories. The young women worked upwards of seventy hours a week with no overtime pay, sometimes around the clock for two or three days to meet impossible quotas. They were paid $3.05 an hour to keep the sewing machines humming (the federal minimum wage was then $5.15 an hour). Three-plus bucks an hour must have sounded like an extravagant wage to poor girls in the backwaters of Asia, but they quickly found out they had no chance of coming out ahead; the employers billed them for their lodging and food, on top of withholding for the thousands of dollars many still owed on their contracts. Squares of raw fabric were piled up around their machines as high as they could reach; a glaring electronic production counter nagged them to work harder, longer, faster. The air was filled with dust and lint. Workers were not afforded the low-cost filter masks commonly worn by people with respiratory difficulties; for relief they wore rags over their noses and mouths like the bandanas of Old West desperadoes. If they fell asleep and ran a needle through a finger, there was no first aid station; all they got was a rebuke from a shouting supervisor who called them stupid. And those were the lucky ones...

"DeLay... when he returned from the trip and a reporter pressed him about sweatshops in the Marianas, he said, "I saw some of those factories. They were air-conditioned. I didn't see anyone sweating." Then he laughed. Inspired by the labor model he saw on Saipan, he threw out a daring and philosophical idea: the United States should establish an identical "guest worker" program "where particular companies can bring Mexican workers in."...

"Workers were being abused in so many ways. They had no rights, yound women were being forced into prostitution, yet here's Mr. Conservative Morality, Tome DeLay, telling the work that this is a good system...

"...his Petri dish of capitalism. DeLay demonstrated how deregulation was an absolute in his approach to government -- and how far the reach of his power extended beyond a congressional district in Texas... DeLay making a virtue of slavery...

"...unlike Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and other Texas Republicans, DeLay did not return one nickel of Enron contributions as a gesture to shareholders and employees...

"Top clothing retailers continue to sell the blouses and tank tops sewn by young Asian women in the Marianas and stamped for competitive advantage: "Made in the U.S.A."...

"There's not going to be permanent change unless there's a legislative fix, and... DeLay's not going to let that happen...

"They came over there looking for better opportunity, and what they walked into was a cesspool of human misery.

"Another laugh without humor. "We're engaged in this race to globalization, and we go the last mile, and at the finish line we find Tom DeLay, making a virtue of slavery"" (Lou Dubose and Jan Reid. "Stranger Than Paradise." Texas Observer, 9/10/04: 8-11, 18).


"...Bankston's website http://www.brazosriver.com/duhlay.htm... Juanita and the folks at the beauty salon spend their days having fun at the expense of corrupt politicians and hypocritical holy rollers -- both of which seem to be in abundance in Fort Bend. "Juanita Jean has long contended that the more a man tells you he is a Christian, the tighter you need to hold on to your purse," observes Bankston.

"In particular, the folks at the beatuy salon talk a bunch about "Congressvarmint Extraordinary Tom DuhLay." Just the other day, they were going through a list of "how many Tom DeLay and friends does it take to screw in a light bulb?" jokes. Among the many correct answers were "two -- one to screw the light bulb and one to do likewise to his constituents; 432 -- one to hold the bulb and 431 Mariana Island sweatship workers to turn the room; 15 -- one to screw in the bulb, three to set up a fake charity for poor little abused light bulbs, and 11 to count the cash; and 0 -- Tom's constituents are accustomed to being in the dark"" ("Tom, Bush, and Perry." Texas Observer, 9/10/04: 12-13).


"Once a "bug man," then an unremarkable Texas legislator known as "Hot Tub Tom," Tom DeLay is now the most powerful man in the United States Congress... "I am the federal government," [says DeLay](Advertisement. Texas Observer, 9/24/04: 27).


"Two investigative bombs with long fuses are sizzling under Tom DeLay, America's Machiavelli of gerrymandering and shakedown fundraising. They both involve active grand juries investigating alleged money-laundering and campaign finance abuses...

"The first bomb involves the Senate's Indian Affairs Committee, led by John McCain... alleged fleecing of Indian tribes by two of DeLay's closest allies, lobbyists Jack Abramoff and Mike Scanlon. They have been paid more than $45 million over three years by casino-owning tribes for services that remain unclear...

"...in Washington he is widely regarded as the enabler of these two avatars of avarice. DeLay has adroitly disavowed his two friend -- a sign of how much The Hammer has to hide...

"...the law firm of Abramoff, a hard-line right-winger, was paid $7.9 million over six years by the US Protectorate of the Mariana Islands to keep the garment sweatshop haven exempt from US minimum-wage laws. When the Senate repealed the exemption, DeLay killed the repeal in the House...

"Abramoff and Scanlon enriched themselves with tribal funds meant for education, housing and healthcare... They also directed about $1.5 million into Republican campaigns from the eleven tribes they represented...

"...Texans for a Republican Majority. The essence of the probe is that TRMPAC illegally contributed corporate money to elect fourteen GOP state legislators in 2002 to gain state legistalive control for the first time in 130 years, and then used this majority to crudely gerrymander Texas Congressional districts so that four Democrats might lose their seats" (Jack Newfield. "DeLay on the Hot Seat." The Nation, Oct. 11, 2004: 28).


"I am the federal government."

" Tom DeLay, responding to a government employee who tried to prevent him from smoking on government property. The New York Times, June 13, 2003...

"The 10th term Republican from Sugarland, Texas known as "The Hammer" for his vindictive politics was served a subpoena last week and faces a forehead-slapping fourth letter of admonition next week from the bipartisan House Ethics Committee...

"Given the priority of the presidential race for progressives, it's important to note just how many groups are simultaneously working toward DeLay's demise. Once considered unbeatable, recent polls show that repeated ethics violations, civil lawsuits, and increasingly firm and high profile criticism in the media are taking their toll...

"But there's a final note of irony here. Due to the recent redistricting, for which DeLay lobbied so "passionately," and for which he faces a possible conviction, 30% of voters are new to DeLay's district. It's extremely difficult to predict which way they'll vote but if the ethical campaign watchdogs keep throwing strikes they may be sending this snotty kid back to the dugout" (Evan Derkacz. "Time's Up for Tom DeLay." AlterNet. Posted October 27, 2004).


"Should a member of Congress be permitted to attempt to bribe a colleague, trade access for contributions, and use federal resources to mount a political vendetta? DeLay did all that, but the House Ethics Committee merely slapped his wrist...

"The committee deferred action on the TRMPAC matter while it is in the Texas courts. This was all more protection than punishment for DeLay, whose repuation as a vengeful SOB will keep Republicans from publicly assailing him (or pressuring him to leave) unless his departure comes to be seen as inevitable...

"In 1999 the Ethics Committee privately chastised him for threatening an inudstry lobby group for hiring a Democrat. DeLay has also invited corporate lobbyists to participate in the legislative process--as long as they have donated to the Republicans. He is the embodiment of the corporate-political cronyism of Washington" ("Hammer Strikes--Out?" The Nation, Nov. 1, 2004: 3).


"...the mainstream media has spoken, and almost with one voice: The Majority Leader is an embarassment and should resign. All the major metropolitan dailies in Texas condemned him, as did newpapers across the nation..." ("Takin's America Back." Texas Observer, 10/22/04: 3).


"Tremors from the criminal investigation into Texans for a Republican Majority (TRM) PAC are reaching some top corporate lobbyists--a crowd that is to Tom DeLay's power what hair follicles were to Sampson's fabled strength.

"... The K Street Project... DeLay... threatens corporations and trade groups with political reprisals if they hire Democrats as top lobbyists... was an effective as it was crass...

"One of the first orders of business of Craddick transition-team... was to solicit money from hundreds of other lobbyists for Craddick...

"HillCo Partners' lobbyists and clients have myriad ties to the TRMPAC scandal... became TRMPAC's top corporate donor when Craddick himself delivered the group's $100,000 check to TRMPAC days befeore the 2002 election. HillCo also lobbied for Continental Airlines, which the grand jury subpoenaed to learn how it came to pledge $15,000 worth of airfare to TRM. Other 2002 HillCo clients... Bob Perry... Farmers Insurance Group...

"The grand jury... subpoenaed Toomey... the PAC director of Texans for Lawsuit Reform..." (Andrew Wheat. "Indictment Heat Hits the Lobby." Texas Observer, 10/22/04: 12-13, 20).


"What sets DeLay apart is his response when his shoddy behavior is exposed.

"He has been admonished three times by the House Ethics Committee, so did he clean up his act? Nope, he went after the chairman of the Ethics committee, threw him out, got the rules changed and then stacked the committee with his close allies.

""The ethics process in the House of Representatives is in total shambles," said Fred Wertheimer, a longtime DC crusader on ethical issues...

"The Houston Chronicle, DeLay's home paper, has been vigilant about tracking his lapses. The paper recently summed up his MO: "When in danger of losing, simply rewrite the rules in the middle of the game to make it impossible for the other side to win."

"This guy smells like a slop jar" (Molly Ivins. "Cirque du DeLay." Texas Observer, April 1, 2005: 14).


"Tom DeLay lost a big ally this morning when he opened what is normally the very friendly Wall Street Journal editorial page. Headlined "Smells Like The Beltway," the editorial page ticks through every charge being leveled against DeLay of late: "Taken separately, and on present evidence, none of the latest charges directly touch" DeLay. "At worst, they paint a picture of a man who makes enemies by playing political hardball and loses admirers by resorting to politics-as-usual. The problem, rather, is that Mr. DeLay, who rode to power in 1994 on a wave of revulsion at the everyday ways of big government, has become the living exemplar of some of its worst habits." " (pdamerica.org, April 13, 2005 newsletter).


"It all finally became too much for the editors of the Wall Street Journal, which usually champions crazed conservatives. In a lengthy and blistering editorial on March 28 they wrote that DeLay "has an odor" that "smells like the Beltway." Two days later the Journal ran a lengthy news story reporting on campaigns by two liberal groups to secure DeLay's resignation. It was headlined: "Ads Will Seek to Turn DeLay's Powerful Network Into His Downfall"" (Ben A. Franklin, ed. Washington Spectator, April 15, 2005).


"DeLay is renowned as a vindictive, vituperative, nasty, brutish political boss. Now we learn that he's also a pathetic crybaby. What has him crying is the fact that he's been caught in one case after another of political corruption and rank hypocrisy. Now he's wallowing in martyrdom, flailing at unseen enemies who, he insists, have nothing more important to do than to try to get poor ol' Tom" (Jim Hightower. "Wailing, Wallowing, Whining." Texas Observer, April 29, 2005: 15).


"...Tom DeLay who said, "Screw the Senate," when he learned Bob Dole had cut a deal with Clinton to end the government shutdown caused by Newt Gingrich.

"It was DeLay who called the EPA "the Gestapo government."

"It was a DeLay staff e-mail that so demurely said, about Clinton's impeachment: "This whole thing about not kicking someone when they are down is BS. Not only do you kick him--you kick him until he passes out, then beat him over the head with a baseball bat, then roll him up in an old rug and throw him off a cliff into the pounding surf below..

"And it was DeLay again who called Justice Anthony Kennedy's work "incredibly outrageous."...

DeLay has "the idea that you were immune from ethical lapses because you had found Jesus" (Molly Ivins. "Money and sanctimony." The Progressive, June 2005: 50).


"Among his offenses, Tom DeLay:

-Used corporate money given to his PAC to finance Texas campaigns in violation of state law.

-Accepted trips from corporations and later helped kill legislation they opposed.

-Accepted trips from the lobbyist for a foreign government in violation of House rules.

-Paid family members more than $500,000 out of campaign contributions.

-Helped sweatshops in the Mariana Islands at the behest of a lobbyist.

-Promised a role in drafting legislation to a corporate donor.

-Tried to coerce a Congressman for a vote on Medicare.

-Used Homeland Security resources in a dispute with Democrats in Texas.

-Diverted funds from a children's charity for lavish celebrations at the Republican convention.

-Threatened retaliation against interest groups that don't support Republicans

-Stacked the House Ethics Committee with representatives who have contributed to his legal defense fund.

-Crippled the effectiveness of the House Ethics Committee by purging members who had rebuked him.

-Pushed for a rules change for the House Ethics process that paralyzed the panel

-Sought a rule change that would have no longer "required leaders to step aside temporarily if indicted"

"This sort of abuse of power needs to be stopped" (from an email from MoveOn, 8 June 2005).


"Tom DeLay should resign as leader of the House Republican majority. If he doesn't, Republicans should have the decency to remove him. He's been rebuked unanimously four times by the bipartisan House Ethics Committee--which he then proceeded to purge and disembowel. Three of his political associates are under indictment in Texas for raising illegal corporate campaign contributions. He's luxuriated in lavish junkets on the tab of crooked lobbyists and foreign agents. He's given "family values" a new meaning by paying his wife and daughter $500,000 from his PACs for part-time work. And one of his cronies, "Casino Jack" Abramoff, who is under investigation for bilking Indian tribes and pressing them to donate to the GOP, says DeLay "knew everything" about what was going on" (Editorials. The Nation, May 9, 2005: 3).


"The Republican Party's go-to guy, famously nicknamed "The Hammer," finally got whacked...

"The indictment charges DeLay with conspiring with Ellis and Colyandro to violate the Texas Election Code by contributing corporate money to certain candidates for the Texas Legislature...

"The indictment sent a shock wave through the GOP establishment, which is already reeling from a mass of criminal and ethics investigations. Three individuals, eight corporations and two political action committees connected to DeLay have been indicted..." (Ari Berman. "DeLay Gets Hammered." The Nation, Oct. 17, 2005: 4-5).


"Voters are not going to get very excited about a reform agenda that lacks meaningful campaign finance reforms, including voluntary public financing for federal candidates who agree to raise no private money and abide by spending limits.

"Public financing is essential, as it signals a recognition that Congress has been corrupted not by Abramoff but by the steady flow of corporate campaign contributions that provide lobbyists with the muscle to influence members of both partiees to such an extent that those who are supposed to be regulated are writing the rules--literally. That, and not the details of Abramoff's dirty dealing, is what Americans think of when they hear the term "culture of corruption." And only by promising to change that culture, with ethics and campaign finance reforms designed to dramatically reduce the ability of corporate interests to call the tune in Washington, will Democrats get to hearing from the great mass of Americans who believe that both parties are compromised" ("Editorials." The Nation, Jan. 30, 2006: 3).


Colby Glass, MLIS