Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Some more interesting details on DeLay

Here is some more interesting details regarding Tom DeLay. Some of these details I've also seen through the blogosphere, but haven't commented on them. This is from The Washington Post, titled Federal Probe Has Edged Closer to Texan:

The pending resignation of former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), once one of the most powerful lawmakers in Washington, comes amid a federal criminal investigation that already has reached into his inner circle of longtime advisers.

The picture appeared to darken further last week with the guilty plea of Tony C. Rudy, DeLay's former deputy chief of staff. Edwin A. Buckham, the lawmaker's former chief of staff and his closest political and spiritual adviser, was described in court documents filed in the case as someone who collaborated with Rudy, Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former DeLay aide Michael Scanlon. They arranged payments, trips and favors that the department's investigators charged were part of an illegal conspiracy, according to the documents.

DeLay himself was formally designated as "Representative #2" in the documents, a title that cannot be considered a good omen. The lawmaker designated in the same documents as Representative #1 -- Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) -- has been cited by the Justice Department as having received "things of value" for performing official acts.

Ney has not been formally named a target of the probe and denies wrongdoing. But he agreed last October to sign a Justice Department document waiving the five-year expiration of the statute of limitations on any alleged crimes until late April.

So it appears that not only have the feds targeted Tony Rudy with his guilty plea, but they are also sighting on another former DeLay chief of staff, Edwin A. Buckham. It appears that Buckham collaborated with Rudy, Abramoff, and Scanlon in arranging these trips and favors for congressional lawmakers. And since Rudy had just pleaded guilty, Rudy will certainly be talking to the feds about Buckham's role in this corruption probe. In other words, the feds are gathering evidence to nail Buckham. If Buckham is charged in this probe, there is also a good chance that he may also plead guilty and cooperate with the feds in exchange for a lesser sentence.

The little fish are being taken down in preparation for the big fish.

And we have two big fish here. One is certainly Tom DeLay. But the court documents are also linking DeLay's good friend Rep. Bob Ney in this corruption probe. That is certainly not good for Ney--who is also claiming his innocence in the probe. But I find it especially interesting that Ney signed a waiver, regarding the expiration of the statute of limitations on any alleged crimes--it is almost like Ney knows he is going to eventually be caught in this probe. So he is trying to cover his bases by making a deal with the feds now--before indictments are handed down.

Now here is another interesting piece of information from the WaPost:

DeLay has assembled a substantial legal team to fight back, and he has a defense fund -- financed largely by corporations with business before Congress -- that contained more than $600,000 at the end of last year, based on the cumulative record of its receipts and contributions. But contributions to the fund dropped from $318,000 to $181,500 between the third and fourth quarters of 2005.

DeLay also is entitled under federal election rules to convert any or all of the remaining funds from his reelection campaign to his legal expenses, whether or not he resigns, is indicted or loses the election. Election lawyers say one advantage of bowing out of the election now is that the campaign cash can be converted to pay legal bills immediately, instead of being drained in the course of a bid to stay in office.

As of Feb. 15, when his campaign filed its most recent report with the Federal Election Commission, DeLay had $1,295,350 on hand. But that was two weeks before the Texas primary in which DeLay bested three Republican rivals to win renomination, and the pot of money available to him now may be considerably less.

By stepping aside so early in an election year, a lawmaker "wouldn't be spending to be reelected" and could transfer the funds immediately to fend off any federal charges, said lawyer Kenneth A. Gross, a former head of the FEC's enforcement division. The last lawmaker to gain the FEC's formal approval for such a transfer was Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.), who resigned last November after pleading guilty to evading taxes and accepting bribes.

Cunningham and DeLay shared a major contributor, Brent Wilkes

That is one big incentive for Tom DeLay--withdrawal from the House race, and then use your campaign funds to pay for your legal expenses. Contributions to his legal defense fund, from corporations and business interests, have also dropped significantly. You have to wonder if the corporations don't want to see themselves linked towards defending Tom DeLay--especially during a midterm election year. So DeLay may need a big infusion of cash, so he can hire his big-name defense team to defend him from both the Texas money-laundering charges he is currently faced with now, but also against the possible future federal indictments against him in the congressional corruption probe. DeLay could have used this $1.2 million in his re-election campaign, but that money would have been wasted if Buckham is indicted and would agree to cooperate with the feds, forcing DeLay to be indicted. A federal indictment against DeLay before Election Day would destroy DeLay's political campaign.

There is so much more here to talk about. More to come.

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