Ethics Committee Makes the Right Decision

Common Cause on Tuesday commended the House Ethics Committee for its decision to consider a complaint filed against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) by a fellow House member, accusing Rep. DeLay of “serious criminal acts.”

The committee’s decision launches a 45-day review of the complaint filed by Rep. Chris Bell, (D-TX), a one-term House member who is leaving Congress after losing a primary election in March.

“The Ethics Committee made the right decision today,” said Chellie Pingree, president of Common Cause. “Now we hope the committee thoroughly and impartially investigates the complaint, and lets the public know its findings and how it arrived at its conclusion.”

Rep. Bell filed a 187-page complaint on June 15, focusing on Rep. DeLay’s relationship with Westar Energy Inc., and a political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee. Rep. Bell also alleges that Rep. DeLay inappropriately used the Federal Aviation Administration to help locate a private plane thought to be carrying Texas state legislators who were preventing a quorum that Republicans needed to pass a 2003 redistricting plan.

Rep. Bell’s was the first ethics complaint filed in the House since 1997, when the House changed its rules to prohibit outside groups from filing complaints against lawmakers. An unwritten “truce” between the two political parties followed.