Will DeLay finally topple?

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Over at Daily Kos, a diarist tries to straighten out House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s rather tangled trail of lobbyist money, ethics violations, and other general misdoings. The whole thing harkens back to the good old days, some ten years ago, when House Speaker Newt Gingrich was being investigated (by Mother Jones among others) for his own shady dealings. Even then, it took a good number of years between the time the allegations surfaced and the time Gingrich finally resigned. (And Gingrich, it seems, was forced out mostly because disgruntled Republicans, unhappy with their losses in the 1998 midterms, threatened to go public with the Speaker’s sex life. Ethics violations had only a little to do with it.)

Nowadays, on the other hand, Democrats have virtually no leverage and no way to kick-start a full-fledged investigation against DeLay—especially now that House Republicans, via a cute little rule change, have made it more difficult to investigate ethics violations. Though according to the Washington Post the minority party is still intent on trying every trick in the book:

Democrats opened their protest Thursday, at the ethics committee’s first meeting under its new leadership, by preventing the panel from organizing. The committee must adopt rules to function, and those were voted down by a 5 to 5 party-line vote, leaving the House with no mechanism for investigating or punishing members.

Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (W.Va.), the committee’s top Democrat, said in a telephone interview yesterday that he will not release his freeze on committee action unless the House undoes the rule changes, and he said he has begun recruiting Republicans to back him. He said he may use a tactic known as a discharge petition, which could force a bill to the floor if enough Republicans back him.

You have to wonder how far this will get, though, considering that at least two members of the House Ethics Committee also happen to be key contributors to Tom DeLay’s legal defense fund. Quite the tangled web Delay’s got there.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend