Over at Daily Kos, a diarist tries to straighten out House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s rather tangled trail of lobbyist money, ethics violations, and other general misdoings. The whole thing harkens back to the good old days, some ten years ago, when House Speaker Newt Gingrich was being investigated (by Mother Jones among others) for his own shady dealings. Even then, it took a good number of years between the time the allegations surfaced and the time Gingrich finally resigned. (And Gingrich, it seems, was forced out mostly because disgruntled Republicans, unhappy with their losses in the 1998 midterms, threatened to go public with the Speaker’s sex life. Ethics violations had only a little to do with it.)
Nowadays, on the other hand, Democrats have virtually no leverage and no way to kick-start a full-fledged investigation against DeLay—especially now that House Republicans, via a cute little rule change, have made it more difficult to investigate ethics violations. Though according to the Washington Post the minority party is still intent on trying every trick in the book:
Democrats opened their protest Thursday, at the ethics committee’s first meeting under its new leadership, by preventing the panel from organizing. The committee must adopt rules to function, and those were voted down by a 5 to 5 party-line vote, leaving the House with no mechanism for investigating or punishing members.
Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (W.Va.), the committee’s top Democrat, said in a telephone interview yesterday that he will not release his freeze on committee action unless the House undoes the rule changes, and he said he has begun recruiting Republicans to back him. He said he may use a tactic known as a discharge petition, which could force a bill to the floor if enough Republicans back him.
You have to wonder how far this will get, though, considering that at least two members of the House Ethics Committee also happen to be key contributors to Tom DeLay’s legal defense fund. Quite the tangled web Delay’s got there.