Ethics Complaint Filed Against Majority Leader Tom DeLay

Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX)

Retiring Democratic Congressman Chris Bell (D-TX) broke a seven year old “ethics truce” today by filing a wide ranging ethics complaint against his fellow Texan, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX). The complaint accuses Rep. DeLay of soliciting campaign contributions in return of legislative favors; laundering illegal campaign contributions through a Texas political action committee and improperly involving a federal agency in a Texas partisan manner. The Washington Post covers this story. The Hill detailed the three principle allegations in this complaint against Delay:

Rep. DeLay gave special consideration to Westar Energy Corp., a Kansas-based company, in return for political contributions.

Rep. DeLay acted improperly in connection with Texans for a Republican Majority, a fundraising committee run by DeLay strategist Jim Ellis that is being investigated by a Texas district attorney for laundering corporate contributions.

Rep. DeLay “improperly used his office” when he asked the Federal Aviation Administration to help find a private plane last year thought to be carrying Texas state Democratic lawmakers who fled to Oklahoma to block a Republican redistricting plan.

Common Cause released its own statement on this complaint, urging the Ethics Committee to evaluate the complaint, and let the public know what it has decided to do and how it arrived at that decision.

Update (6/16): Charles Babington from the Post discussed these complaints filed against DeLay on NPR. Click here to read the NPR transcript of Babington’s NPR interview.

Update (6/17): Common Cause was among eight national watchdog groups urging the House Ethics Committee in a full page ad Thursday to thoroughly investigate ethics complaints filed this week against Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) by a Democratic colleague in the Texas congressional delegation, Rep. Chris Bell.

View a hi-res PDF version of the ad – (1,367 KB)

View a JPG version of the ad – (118 KB)

Common Cause also criticized efforts (Roll Call article, subscription required.) by Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill) to prohibit lame duck members of Congress, like Bell, from filing ethics complaints in the future. LaHood launched his effort in response to Bell’s complaint.