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Thomas DeLay (born April 8, 1947) is an American Republican politician from Texas and current Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. He is well-known for his conservative stances on foreign and domestic policy issues.
Biography and early political career
DeLay was born in Laredo, Texas, and lived part of his childhood in Venezuela due to his father's work in the oil and gas industry. DeLay recieved a biology degree from the University of Houston in 1970, though he had previously been expelled from Baylor University for drinking. Though a strong student, DeLay gained a reputation as a playboy, earning him the nickname, "Hot Tub Tom." 
He was elected to the Texas State House in 1978 where he continued his party antics. By his own admission, DeLay was drinking "8, 10, 12 martinis a night at receptions and fundraisers."  He then was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1984, representing the Texas 22nd Congressional District of Sugar Land (map), and became a born-again Christian in 1985.
DeLay and his wife, Christine, have a daughter, Danielle. After Christine DeLay began volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in foster care, they also became foster parents. DeLay has declined to comment on a report in the New Yorker that he is estranged from much of his family, including his mother and one of his brothers. 
DeLay was made a deputy whip by then-Minority Whip Dick Cheney in 1988. When the Republican Party (GOP) gained control of the House of Representatives in 1994, DeLay was elected Majority Whip against the wishes of Speaker-elect Newt Gingrich.
DeLay was not always on good terms with either Gingrich or House Majority Leader and fellow Texan Dick Armey, considering them uncommitted to Christian values, and in 1997 DeLay even tried to topple Gingrich in a parliamentary coup. Nevertheless, in the heyday of the 104th Congress (1995-1997), DeLay described the Republican leadership this way: Gingrich was the visionary, Armey the policy wonk, and DeLay himself was the guy that got everything done.
As Majority Whip, DeLay earned the nickname "The Hammer," for his enforcement of party discipline in close votes and his reputation for wreaking political vengeance on opponents. DeLay likes his nickname, pointing out that the hammer is one of a carpenter's most valuable tools. In the 104th Congress DeLay successfully whipped 300 out of 303 bills.
After serving as Whip for eight years, DeLay was elected Majority Leader upon the retirement of Dick Armey in 2002. His tenure as Majority Leader has been marked by strong Republican party discipline in close votes, and the use of parliamentary political techniques to preserve his party's control of the House. DeLay has also been known to "primary" Republicans who resist his votes (threatening to endorse and support a Republican primary challenge to the disobedient Representative), and, like many of his predecessors in Congress, uses promises of future committee chairmanships to bargain for support among the rank and file members of the party. He can also be personable and generous, sponsoring weekly lunches for the Republican caucus.
Employing a method known as "catch and release," DeLay has allowed centrist or moderate conservative Republicans to take turns voting against controversial bills. If a Congressman says a bill is unpopular in his district, DeLay will only make him vote for it if his vote is necessary for passage; if his vote is not needed, he or she will be allowed to vote against the party without reprisal.
In the 108th Congress, a preliminary Medicare vote passed 216-215, a vote on Head Start passed 217-216, a vote on school vouchers for Washington, DC passed 209-208, and "Fast track," aka "trade promotion authority," passed by one vote as well. Some see these close votes as indicative of DeLay's strategy to enable the minimum number of Republicans to vote in favor of these bills. Both political supporters and opponents have remarked on DeLay's ability to sway the votes of his party.
DeLay is also noted for involving lobbyists in the process of passing House bills, described by some as an unprecedented tactic. Lou Dubose, author of Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America and Shrub: The Short But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush also authored a critical biography of DeLay, in which he quotes a lobbyist as saying, "I've had members pull me aside and ask me to talk to another member of Congress about a bill or amendment, but I've never been asked to work on a bill - at least like they are asking us to whip bills now." (The Hammer, 93)
Like many successful incumbents, DeLay's ability to raise money gives him additional influence. Two-thirds of the way through the 2004 election cycle, DeLay raised $2.28 million compared to Dennis Hastert's $1.68 million. Partly as a result of Tom DeLay's management abilities, the House Republican caucus under him has displayed unprecedented, sustained, party cohesion.
DeLay has also displayed independence from the policies of the Bush Administration. In 2001 DeLay defied the president when he refused to extend Bush's tax cuts to people making between $10,500 and $26,625 a year; when reporters asked DeLay about what he would do about the low-income tax cuts DeLay simply stated it "ain't going to happen." When Ari Fleischer reiterated the president's desire for a low-income tax cut, DeLay retorted "the last time I checked they [the executive branch] don't have a vote."
DeLay even defied George W. Bush on the badly wanted energy bill. DeLay refused to support a version of the energy bill that did not retroactively protect the makers of the gasoline additive MTBE from lawsuits. (Ibid)
On economic policy, DeLay is rated a 95 out of 100 by the anti-tax Americans for Tax Reform, and 95 to 100 by the United States Chamber of Commerce , a business lobby. On environmental policy, he earned ratings of 0 from the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters. He has been a fervent critic of the EPA, which he has called the "Gestapo of government". DeLay has also sided with business owners over labor unions and is against gun control.
DeLay blames Senate Democrats and what he dubbed "BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything) environmentalists" for blocking legislative solutions to problems such as the 2003 North America blackout. 
His Christian conservative viewpoint led him to vote 100% in line with the views of the National Right-to-Life Committee and 0% with the National Abortion Reproductive Rights Action League.
In foreign policy, DeLay has been a strong supporter of the State of Israel, saying, "The Republican leadership, especially that leadership in the House, has made pro-Israel policy a fundamental component of our foreign policy agenda and it drives the Democrat leadership crazy--because they just can't figure out why we do it!" 
On a 2003 trip to Israel, DeLay toured the nation and addressed members of the Knesset. His opposition to land concessions is so strong that the right-wing National Union Party deputy Aryeh Eldad remarked, "as I shook his hand, I told Tom DeLay that until I heard him speak, I thought I was farthest to the right in the Knesset."  Former Mossad chief Danny Yatom said "The Likud is nothing compared to this guy." (The Hammer, 236)
2005 Election campaign
On April 18, 2005, Tom DeLay's election campaign told supporters in a mailing that he has "never been found to have violated any law or rule by anyone" despite numerous allegations, and that "Democrats have made clear that their only agenda is the politics of personal destruction, and the criminalization of politics".
Furthermore, in an appeal to nostalgia: "They (Democrats) hate Ronald Reagan conservatives like DeLay and they hate that he is an effective leader who succeeds in passing the Republican agenda."
Controversies and accusations
DeLay and Terri Schiavo
DeLay also made headlines for his role in the Terri Schiavo controversy. On Palm Sunday weekend in March 2005, several days after the brain-damaged Florida woman's feeding tube was disconnected for the third time, DeLay and other House Republicans met in emergency session to pass a bill allowing Schiavo's parents to petition the removal of the feeding tube to a federal judge. DeLay called the removal of the feeding tube "an act of barbarism." DeLay faced charges of hypocrisy from his critics when the Los Angeles Times revealed that he had consented to removing his own father from life support, who was in a comatose state, following a debilitating tram accident in 1988. 
DeLay's Defense of Quayle
In 1988, when questions were raised about then-Republican vice-presidential nominee Dan Quayle's apparent use of family connections to get into the Indiana National Guard and thus avoid possible combat service in the Vietnam War, DeLay reportedly defended Quayle by saying that he had tried to enlist himself at the same age, but was told ethnic minorities had already filled most of the available positions and there were none left for him.
No one close to him could say whether he made any other attempt to serve, and later The Washington Post reported that he had received student deferments while at Baylor, gotten a high lottery number in 1969 and then gotten married prior to his 1970 graduation from Houston.
However, he had been asked to withdraw from Baylor for a semester and managed to keep his student deferement during that time, which has never been explained.
Settlement in Civil Suit
In early 1999, as the House vote on impeaching president Bill Clinton neared (a vote DeLay had worked very hard to ensure would succeed), Anne-Louise Bardach  at The New Republic picked up a story first reported by Houston-area alternative weeklies (1) alleging that DeLay himself had committed perjury during a civil lawsuit brought against him by a former business partner in 1994.
The plaintiff in that suit, Robert Blankenship, had charged that DeLay and a third partner in Albo Pest Control had breached the partnership agreement by trying to force him out of the business without buying him out, and filed suit against DeLay, charging him and the other partner with breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, wrongful termination, loss of corporate expectancy, and injunctive relief. While being deposed in that suit, DeLay claimed that he didn't think he was an officer or director of Albo and believed he had resigned two or three years ago (2). Yet his own congressional disclosure forms, including one filed subsequent to the deposition state that he was either president or chairman of the company between 1985 and 1994. The plaintiff also alleged that Albo money had been spent on DeLay's congressional campaigns, in violation of federal and state law.
DeLay and Blankenship settled for an undisclosed sum, and Blankenship's attorney told Bardach that had he known about the congressional disclosure forms, he would have referred the case to the Harris County district attorney's office for a perjury prosecution. These allegations have never been investigated and DeLay has never been charged.
Accusations of misconduct in Texas fundraising
After the 1990 census, the Texas Democrats drew what some Republicans would argue was the most effective partisan gerrymander in the country. Although Congressional Texas Democrats only received an average of 40 percent of the votes of Congressional Texas Republicans, Democrats consistently had a majority in the state delegation. After the 2000 census, Republicans sought to redraw the district lines to support a GOP majority in the congressional delegation while Democrats desired to retain a plan similar to the existing lines. The two parties reached an impasse in the Texas Legislature, where Republicans controlled the Senate and Democrats controlled the House. As a result the new district lines were drawn by a federal court panel and largely retained the status quo.
In 2001 the Texas Legislative Redistricting Board (a panel composed of the state's Lieutenant Governor, Comptroller, Speaker of the House, Attorney-General, and Land Commissioner) redrew state legislative districts in accordance with the census. The new map that was adopted by the Republican-dominated board gave the GOP an edge in winning the Texas House of Representatives, still controlled at that time by the Democrats. During the 2002 elections under these new maps, DeLay aggressively fundraised for Republican candidates under his Texans for a Republican Majority PAC (TRMPAC). It has since been alleged by Democratic opponents of DeLay that TRMPAC was used to funnel illegal corporate donations into the campaigns of Republican candidates for State Representative. This allegation is currently the subject of an ongoing investigation by Travis County, Texas District Attorney Ronnie Earle .
The GOP victories in 2002 resulted in their control of the Texas House in addition to the Senate. As a result, the Texas Legislature was called into session in 2003 to redistrict the state's congressional lines in favor of the Republican Party. A number of Democrats left the state, going to Oklahoma and later New Mexico, to deny a quorum for voting. One representative, Helen Giddings, was arrested in May of 2003, but was later the arrest is called a mistake.
Accusations of misuse of federal investigative agencies
During the above Texas redistricting controversy, several members of the Texas State House of Representatives who were members of the Democratic Party left the state in order to prevent the House from having a quorum of members, and therefore preventing the House from acting on any legislation. Although not a member of the Texas legislature, DeLay became involved, contacting:
- three Federal Aviation Administration offices (in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Fort Worth, Texas and Washington, D.C
- Four Federal Bureau of Investigation offices (in Dallas, Texas, Corpus Christi, Texas, Austin, Texas and Ardmore, Oklahoma)
- Two United States Marshal offices (in the Western and Northern Districts of Texas
- The United States Attorney’s office in San Antonio, Texas
- The Office of Legislative Affairs at the United States Department of Justice
- The Air and Marine Interdiction Coordination Center (in Riverside, California)
All with the intention of trying to find out where the Democratic legislators were located, and with the intention of having them forcibly returned to Texas in order to appear before the House of Representatives in order to form a quorum.
DeLay and Jack Abramoff
The Associated Press, reported on Wed, April 07, 2005 "DeLay's political action committee did not reimburse lobbyist Jack Abramoff for the May 2000 use of the skybox, instead treating it as a type of donation that didn't have to be disclosed to election regulators at the time.
The skybox donation, valued at thousands of dollars, came just three weeks before DeLay accepted a trip to Europe including golf with Abramoff at the world famous St. Andrews course for himself, his wife and aides that was underwritten by some of the lobbyist's clients.
In May of 2002, DeLay's daughter, Danielle Ferro , was given a baby shower at the offices of Reliant Energy, a Texas-based energy company which is a major contributor to DeLay's political action committees. Also in attendance was lobbyist Jack Abramoff, whose name has appeared in other investigations of corruption charges leveled against DeLay. Ferro was the manager of the committee which received the Reliant contributions. The next month, DeLay hosted a golf tournament to which Reliant contributed $25,000. The contribution was not reported as a campaign contribution. In October of 2002, the House ethics committee rebuked DeLay for his involvement in the contribution and failure to report it.
On September 30, 2004, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (the "Ethics Committee") found that DeLay had violated House rules in 2003 in his efforts to pass a bill concerning health care. The committee admonished DeLay for having made an offer to Representative Nick Smith, who was retiring, that DeLay would endorse Smith's son for the seat if Smith would vote in favor of the bill. This admonishment caused the conservative-leaning Judicial Watch to issue a call for DeLay to resign as Majority Leader.
On October 6, 2004, the Ethics Committee admonished DeLay for a second time, this time for violations stemming from the Bell complaint. Specifically, it stated that he should not have asked the Federal Aviation Administration to track a small plane that he believed to be carrying Democratic Texas state legislators, who were fleeing to Oklahoma from Texas to prevent a quorum, thus stopping a redistricting plan they did not approve of.
The panel also admonished DeLay for his dealings with Westar Energy, a Kansas-based firm; it cited memos from Westar stating that they believed $56,000 in donations to DeLay's PAC and others would get them "a seat at the table". Subsequently, DeLay appeared at a Westar-hosted golf fundraiser, "just as the House-Senate conference on major energy legislation...was about to get underway". This, the conference stated, violated the requirement that lawmakers may not solicit political donations "that may create even the appearance" that they will lead to special access or special treatment.
However, the committee decided to delay action on Bell's third charge, dealing with improper fundraising by the DeLay-headed Texans for a Republican Majority PAC; Bell charged that it improperly raised funds from corporations to channel to local Texas legislative races. The matter is currently being investigated by a grand jury in Travis County, Texas.
On September 21, 2004, the grand jury indicted three members of Texans for a Republican Majority, including its executive director, on charges of money laundering and accepting illegal campaign contributions. DeLay and his supporters contended that this investigation and the indictments were politically motivated maneuvers by the Democratic Travis County, Texas District Attorney Ronnie Earle - a controversial and colorful political figure with a history of pursuing unconventional indictments against elected officials including Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Fearing a possible indictment of DeLay, which they feel is politically motivated on November 17, 2004, House Republicans changed an early 1990s rule that would force House Leaders to step down if indicted; the new rules will allow a committee to review any indictment to determine if it is politically motivated and if it is not politically motivated the House Leader would be required to step down. However, a firestorm of protest from citizens, including rank-and-file Republicans, forced DeLay himself to back off from the rule change on January 3, 2005.
On November 18, 2004, the Ethics Committee also issued a statement admonishing Bell, advising him that his accusation violated a rule barring "innuendo, speculative assertions or conclusory statements". DeLay responded by criticizing Bell as well as Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
On March 10, 2005, news reports stated that "A delegation of Republican House members including Majority Leader Tom DeLay accepted an expense-paid trip to South Korea in 2001 from a registered foreign agent despite House rules that bar the acceptance of travel expenses from foreign agents, according to government documents and travel reports filed by the House members."
On April 6, 2005, the New York Times reported  that Tom DeLay’s Political Action Committee (PAC) has paid over $500,000 to members of his family including his wife and only daughter. In documents filed with Federal Election Commission these payments were identified as "fund-raising fees," "campaign management" and "payroll”.
On April 6, 2005, the Washington Post reported  that a firm lobbying on behalf of Government of Russia paid for a 1997 Russian trip by Tom DeLay and four of his staff members. The trip was undertaken during the time United States Congress was considering number of bills relating to Russia including a loan package by International Monetary Fund to help the then fragile Russian Economy.
On the same day, ABC News reported that, in 1997, DeLay, his wife and daughter, and several aides accompanied Jack Abramoff to the United States commonwealth of Saipan. At the time, Abramoff was working as a lobbyist for the law firm of Preston Gates Ellis and Rouvelas Meeds LLP , and had received $1.36 million in order to stop federal legislation aimed at cracking down on sweatshops and sex shops on the island.
April 20, 2005 marked the day that the House ethics panel officially announced that it was launching a thurough investigation of DeLay. DeLay pledged to face the panel. The panel selected group that will investigate, however, will include no Democrats.
- Dubose, Lou; & Reid, Jan (2004). The Hammer: Tom DeLay: God, Money, and the Rise of the Republican Congress. PublicAffairs. ISBN 1586482386.
Official U.S. Government Tom DeLay Links
U.S. Government Links on DeLay Ethics Issues
- DeLay testimony to the Committee on Resources, April 12, 2000, in which he argues against restrictions on oil exploration
- Lieberman: Federal Authority Misused by Texas Republicans
- Investigation of Certain Allegations Related to Voting on the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, Report of the Committee of Standards of Official Conduct, September 30, 2004. 72-page pdf file.
- Statement of the Committee regarding disposition of the complaint filed against Representative Tom DeLay, October 6, 2004. Cover for documents.
- Letter of Admonishment: October 6, 2004.
Press/Media Reports on DeLay (Pro and Con)
- Campaign contributions made by Tom DeLay at newsmeat.com
- "Be Not Afraid" Tom DeLay speech to the Knesset, July 30, 2003
- Tom DeLay News
- "DeLay makes appeal to Jewish voters" Tom Curry for MSNBC, September 1, 2004
- "Ethics Panel Reviewing DeLay Complaint" Suzanne Gamboa for the Associated Press, June 23, 2004
- "DeLay Thanks Lobbyists With Vegas Trip" Juliet Eilperin for The Washington Post, September 22, 2000
- "DeLay, Incorporated" - Broadcast June 11, 2004 on PBS's NOW with Bill Moyers (RealVideo format).
- "National Journal to report DeLay violated House ethics rules" The Raw Story, February 25, 2005
- "Bugged By Tom DeLay" Ned Rice for the National Review, March 23, 2005
- "Tom's Kids" about DeLay's efforts to help abused children, Meghan Keane for the National Review, May 21, 2004
- "Absolute Truth" Peter Perl for The Washington Post, May 13, 2001, about an interview with DeLay
- ABC News report on Saipan trip
- Raw Story report on baby shower
- "Texas Smear Machine Targets DeLay" Peter Flaherty for The American Spectator, September 23, 2004
Citizen Groups Critical of DeLay
- House of Scandal details DeLay's Ethics Issues
- Flow-chart of DeLay's ethics issues
- According to the New York Times, group's advertisments "will seek to turn DeLay's powerful network into his downfall"
- Taking On Tom DeLay
- Legal Action: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Assists Chris Bell (D-TX) in Drafting Ethics Complaint Against Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) (series of PDF files, and links to related news articles)
- Tom DeLay at Sourcewatch, has extensive list of critical sources under "External Links"
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