Thursday News Round-up

All's Clear on the FEC Front?

The Federal Elections Commission plans to release the report of an audit that was done on Tom DeLay's political action committee ARMPAC, according to Philip Shenon of The New York Times. The audit looked into allegations of "illegal contributions" received in 2001 and 2002.

"Mr. DeLay, the Texas Republican whose position as majority leader makes him the second-most-powerful lawmaker in the House, faces other ethics accusations that involve his fund-raising and ties to lobbyists. The executive director of Americans for a Republican Majority and its chief fund-raiser are under indictment in Texas for possible violations of state election law."

A leading Republican lawyer involved in election law called the audit "very unusual" and said that such investigations usually reflected "repeated questions about the accuracy and completeness" of a political committee's disclosure statements.

"There are 4,000 political action committees," he said, "and there may be only about two dozen audits a year, if that many."

Ouch!

Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times writes: "Judicial Slugfest Likely to Bruise Lawmakers' Image Further."

I think we all know who he's talking about.

"Since last year's election, the news in Washington has been dominated by Bush's drive to restructure Social Security that has generated majority opposition in polls; the congressional intervention in the case of the brain-damaged Florida woman, Terri Schiavo, which provoked a sharp backlash in public opinion surveys; the ethics charges swirling around House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas); and the escalating acrimony over Democratic efforts to block some of Bush's most controversial judicial appointments through the filibuster. "

News from Home

In today's Houston Chronicle, Tom DeLay blames Democrats for his ethics problems. It's unclear, however, how the Democrats are causing the latest ethics committee stalemate that has occurred as a result of staffing difficulties. According to rules, the staff director must be a non-partisan member of the committee's professional staff and be elected by the full committee.

"But Rep. Doc Hastings, the Washington Republican who chairs the panel, wants to elevate his personal chief of staff to the position," Samantha Levine writes.