News round up

There's a lot of news coverage on the ethics rules reversal by Hastert and DeLay, but a couple of stories caught my eye this morning.

The first is RAW STORY's outing the internal GOP talking points about the ethics reversal that were drafted and sistributed before the vote happened. Now this is standard fare, but since the GOP has claimed that the Dems are just using this issue for partisan gain, it's interesting to note that the GOP sees this only in political terms.

The second is the Washington Post's Jeffrey Birnbaum's round-up of DeLay's chances before the Ethics Committee. In short, not good. Here's what Birnbaum writes:

Now that it's clear that his controversial private-paid trips abroad will be put under a microscope in Congress, Tom DeLay is in serious danger of being declared in violation of House ethics rules, legal experts say.

Lawyers who specialize in ethics cases believe that the Republican House majority leader from Texas might be in technical breach of at least a few congressional regulations. According to published reports, a registered foreign agent paid for one of DeLay's overseas trips and a registered lobbyist used his credit card to pay for another foreign airfare -- actions the rules prohibit. DeLay may also have accepted gifts that exceeded congressional limits, taken an expense-paid trip overseas for longer than the rules allow and not disclosed all of the benefits he received.

The third is the NY Times piece linking the money ARMPAC gave to members of Congress with the money members of Congress gave to DeLay's legal defense. Since ARMPAC is limited, like any other donor, to $5,000 per year to DeLay's legal defense fund, if ARMPAC spread money to other members of Congress and they passed the money back to the legal defense to evade the limits, that could be money laundering. Let's have a look at that, Chairman Hastings.

The last story of interest to me this morning was Howie Kurtz's claim of victory for the Democrats over the Republicans in the ethics mess. Certainly the Democrats made DeLay and his ethics troubles and the bad rules an issue. But it was the public interest community -- us at Public Campaign Action Fund, our friends at CREW, Campaign for America's Future, Common Cause, Public Citizen, American Progress Action Fund, and others -- that kept this story moving. And we're not done yet. Just reverting back to old rules that barely functioned is not a victory, nor is having a jury paid for by the defendant.