Monday, April 03, 2006

Some more thoughts on DeLay's withdrawal

Here are some more thoughts on DeLay's withdrawal. I'm now skimming through the different news sites, looking into other details regarding this story. Here is something from the Washington Post:

Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), a primary architect of the House Republican majority who became one of the most powerful and feared leaders in Washington, told House allies tonight that he will resign from the House rather than face a reelection fight that appears increasingly unwinnable.

The decision came just three days after his former deputy chief of staff, Tony C. Rudy, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and corruption charges, telling federal prosecutors of a criminal enterprise being run out of DeLay's leadership offices. Rudy's plea agreement did not implicate DeLay in any illegal activities, but by placing the influence-buying efforts of disgraced Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff directly in DeLay's operation, the former aide may have made an already difficult reelection bid all but out of reach.

[T]he separate federal corruption probe stemming from Abramoff's activities drew closer to DeLay, first eliciting a guilty plea from DeLay's former press secretary, Michael Scanlon, then from Abramoff, whom DeLay once described as "one of my closest and dearest friends."

The more I think about this, the more I wonder how much more is there to this story. DeLay quitting because he thinks he might lose his seat to Nick Lampson in the re-election campaign? This doesn't seem like "The Hammer," which DeLay has been nicknamed for his take-no-prisoners / political warfare style. What interests me here is that DeLay is stepping down, just three days after Tony Rudy pleaded guilty to conspiracy and corruption charges, and Michael Scanlon pleaded guilty on November 21, 2005, per this CNN story. In fact, the CNN story also reported that Scanlon would agree to testify against Abramoff, which certainly would have been a factor in Abramoff's guilty plea in the federal corruption probe on January 4th. We know that Abramoff has also agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in their congressional corruption probe. Also remember, Tony Rudy will cooperate with federal prosecutors in their investigation as well. DeLay's close friend Jack Abramoff, and his two former staff members have been convicted by the federal prosecutors, and are now cooperating with those federal prosecutors--you have to wonder what these guys are telling the feds regarding DeLay.

So I'd say that DeLay was feeling the heat of this corruption probe bearing down on him. DeLay is fighting a tough re-election campaign here. First, he has become the poster boy for the Republican corruption scandals coming out, and both the Democrats and Republicans know this. Delay's Democratic challenger Nick Lampson has made DeLay's scandals a centerpiece for his own campaign to challenge Delay, and the polls are showing that Lampson has a credible chance in beating DeLay. Finally, DeLay is also awaiting trial in Texas State Court on charges of money laundering, which is independent of the federal corruption investigation. A federal indictment of corruption charges, handed down against DeLay before the November midterm elections, would have been a political disaster for the DeLay campaign. So now I have to wonder if DeLay's withdrawal is a means to allow the Republicans to find a replacement who is not corrupted by the Abramoff scandal, and who could maintain Republican control of DeLay's former seat.

UPDATE HERE: I found this off The New York Times:

[DeLay's] decision was first reported Monday by MSNBC and by the Web site of Time magazine, which had posted an interview with Mr. DeLay, as did The Galveston County Daily News. "I'm very much at peace with it," Mr. DeLay told Time of his decision.

He told the Galveston paper he planned to step down from his seat by late May or June.

No comments: