Yesterday's main Republican talking point defending Tom DeLay was this:
"Tom DeLay did nothing wrong," Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., told reporters after the weekly GOP caucus meeting. "There's no evidence of any breaking of the House rules."
That's just plain wrong. For starters, DeLay violated the House rule against accepting contributions to his legal defense fund from lobbyists - and he's already admitted it. On February 1, 2005, Public Citizen released a study of the Tom DeLay Legal Expense Trust which found that the trust had accepted contributions from lobbyists. The trust admitted that the lobbyist contributions violated House ethics rules and returned the contributions.
Contributions to a member of Congress's legal defense fund are considered gifts to the member of Congress and must be reported as gifts on the member's annual personal financial disclosure report. The lobbyist contributions to DeLay's legal defense fund are attached to DeLay's personal financial disclosure report for calendar year 2001, which Tom DeLay personally reviewed and signed on May 29, 2002.
Under Sarbanes-Oxley, a company's CEO can go to jail if he signs the company's annual report without reading it. Shouldn't a member of Congress be held accountable if he signs his own personal financial disclosure report without reading it? Tom DeLay has violated the House ethics rules and has admitted it. No action was taken against him for this because he made it the first order of business for the 109th Congress to gut the House Ethics Committee.
No investigation, no findings of guilt. How convenient.