Thursday, August 03, 2006

Tom DeLay must stay on ballot for Nov 2006 election.

Hubris "In Greek, an excess of pride; the most common character defect (one interpretation of the Greek hamartia) of the protagonist in Greek tragedy. "Pride goeth before a fall" is an Elizabethan expression of this foundation of tragedy."

The picture which should come to mind now is Tom DeLay. He has been the House Majority Leader since before Bush was selected President in 2000. He has been quoted as saying "I AM the government!" and has been called the most powerful leader of the House in over a century. But his efforts to gain Republican control of the Texas House of Representatives so that they would do a mid-decade redistricting of the Texas Congressional House Districts and increase the Republican majority in the House by five appear to have been his undoing.

While the redistricting worked and in 2004 four Texas Democratic Congressmen were replaced by Republicans, the District Attorney of Austin, TX determined that Tom DeLay used corporate funds to gain control of the Texas House. This violates a century-old Texas law. Since Tom DeLay knew this would be a problem, he arranged that the corporate funds be laundered the funds through the Republican National Committee before they were sent to his TRMPAC in Texas. The trial is pending. Remember that the trial is pending. It is important to the rest of the story.

Besides the Texas charges against Tom DeLay, several of Tom DeLays' Congressional aides have admitted guilt to the Justice Department in connection with bribery schemes run by Jack Abramoff. The aides and Jack Abramoff are all expected to testify against Tom DeLay in similar charges.

When Tom was indicted by Ronnie Earle he was required by the House Republican rules to step down as House Majority Leader. This rule was put into effect in 1994 when the Republicans first took control of the House under Newt Gingrich with Tom as Whip.

This rule was window dressing put in place during the euphoria when the Republicans for the first time in forty years took control of the House. It was because the Republicans had run against the "corrupt Democratic leaders of the House", and the rule was intended to show that the Republicans were the new, clean broom which had come in to correct the problems of the long term Democratic Leadership.

When Ronnie Earle had first begun investigating how the Republican takeover of the Texas House of Representatives had been finance in 2002, the Republicans in the Federal House of Representatives had attempted to rescind that rule, but the public outcry at the obvious corruption of such a move made them reinstate it. This was the lead-up to Tom DeLay's resignation as House Majority Leader and his replacement by Rep. John Boehner when the indictments were handed down.

Tom DeLay has been paying for lawyers ever since. It hasn't been cheap, either. He currently has about $1.5 million on hand, and roughly $1 million in unpaid legal bills. Since the Federal Election Commission provided a ruling to then Congressman (and now federal prisoner) Randy "Duke" Cunningham permitting him to use campaign contributions to pay for his legal bills for accusations related to his job as a Congressman, Tom DeLay has happily used his campaign contributions to pay his legal bills.

This is rather obviously one reason why he ran in the Texas Republican Primary for reelection. As long as he was running he could collect more campaign contributions, much of which he knew would be needed for legal bills. His defense attorney, Dick DeGuerin (interestingly a Democrat) is one of the best and most expensive defense attorneys in Texas.

The other reason he ran in the Primary as he has since made clear is that he detests the three Republicans who were attempting to take advantage of his political weakness and replace him in his Congressional seat. By Running in the Primary for reelection Tom felt that he could defeat them and decide who his replacement in Congressional District 22 would be. So he ran for the Republican nomination for reelection to his own seat in Congress, and won. All he had to do then was drop out of the race and have the Texas Republican Party appoint someone with less political baggage to run in his place. Congressional District 22 has been gerrymandered to have a majority of Republican voters. With DeLay running, the Democrat running against him could almost certainly win the seat, but with some other Republican candidate it would be more difficult to pull out a Democratic win.

The problem is that Texas has a law requiring that once a candidate has won his party primary he may withdraw but his party cannot replace him. His name must remain on the ballot. The idea is that it is unfair for a party to have a candidate who for some reason deconstructs as a viable candidate, then have the party bring in a ringer at the last minute. So DeLay declared that he had moved his residence to his townhouse in Virginia, and the Texas State Republican Party would declare him ineligible to run for his district 22 seat. Then they would choose his replacement.

The Democrats then took this to court, stating that since Tom still owned his home in Sugarland, TX and his wife still lived there no proof existed that he was ineligible to run for reelection. A Republican-appointed federal Judge agreed with the Democrats and ordered the Texas Republican Party to keep his name on the ballot. Tom appealed to the fifth circuit court of appeals in New Orleans (one of the most conservative courts in America) where the three judge panel who drew the case just decided that the district court judge was completely correct (See CNN.) The result is that Tom is still required to keep his name on the ballot.

The Democrat, Nick Lampson, is an experienced Congressman who had lost his seat as part of DeLay's redistricting. He has a war chest of at least $2 million with which to campaign for the seat. Tom has only $.5 million left and still has to pay lawyers when D.A. Ronnie Early actually tries him on the charges for which he has been indicted. As of this time there are only three months left until the election, and Tom has not begun to campaign, assuming that he dares spend the money to campaign rather than pay his lawyers.

So Tom has, of course, appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. By now, even if the USSC reverses the lower court decisions (a long shot) the Texas Republicans still have to anoint a candidate, start a campaign and let the voters know who is is, and try to defeat the well-known and well-funded Nick Lampson. All of this in the face of a strong national anti-Republican mood and the clear legal and ethical problems that have caused Tom DeLay to withdraw.

So that's the story of Tom DeLay. Barring some really unanticipated events between now and the November general election, he is toast as a Congressman and Nick Lampson will represent the district 22.

See the Hubris? Tom DeLay is the lead in a Greek tragedy of his own making.

Previous posts about the DeLay case. (Note- there are links in each post to other news sources. This is intended as a research source.)

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