Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Bug Man's Gone

We never thought he'd do it, but facing a strong opponent in the general election, and coming off a brutal primary fight, a chastened Tom DeLay announced he is stepping down from his congressional seat in May, acknowledged his mistakes and asked his voters to continue the fight for reform in Congress.

Okay, so I made that last part up. But he is retiring. And give him credit, at least he's consistent. Defiant to the end, DeLay told Time interviewer Mike Allen:
TIME: Do you think you did anything that made you more of a target for your critics? Do you think you made it easier for the opponents to —
DeLay: No. The opponents HATE what we do—what we have done in the last 11 years in the majority. We have built the largest political coalition of my adult lifetime. They hate that. We have been effective for 11 years going now, doing some pretty amazing things. They hate that. The reason we've been effective is we've tried to change the culture of Washington, D.C. And do it legally and ethically.
And that silly ole indictment? Move along, nothin' to see. The ethics violations? Pure partisan hoohah. Corrupt staff? Well, now, I can't be accountable for every little detail. Abuse of house rules? Those Democrats just wish they'd thought of it first. That $500,000 paid from PAC funds to his wife and daughter? Family values in action.

The Time article is worth reading just to hear his wife, Christine's, perky cheerleading. There are still a lot of unknowns concerning who will replace DeLay, and whether his seat will be filled prior to the November election. DeLay could have bowed out before the primary and allowed one of the challengers to run. Salon has some theories as to why he didn't do that:
Those who contributed to Tom DeLay's campaign may be onboard for his legal defense, too. As the Washington Post points out, under federal election law, DeLay is allowed to spend the money in his reelection coffers on attorneys' fees. "Election lawyers say one advantage of bowing out of the election now is that the campaign cash can be converted to pay legal bills immediately, instead of being drained in the course of a bid to stay in office," the paper says. (Why, one wonders, would such a law exist? Lawmakers and regulators sure do think about all the contingencies when drawing up finance rules.)
This is good news for DeLay, because although he has amassed a large legal fund, contributions had lately been declining. The fund collected $318,000 in the third quarter of last year, the Post says, but in the fourth quarter it collected only $181,500. As of the end of 2005, the defense fund contained $600,000. Meanwhile, DeLay's campaign account has $1,295,350, according to the most recent filing with the Federal Elections Commission.
Now there are some whispers that Ronnie Earle could eventually be the least of DeLay's worries. But to suggest that he stayed in the race just to raise funds for his legal defense -- what in Rep. DeLay's two decades in congress would make you so cynical? Unfortunately for us, the bug man's demise doesn't mean his legacy won't be with us for a long time to come.

1 comment:

Bradley Bowen said...

The bug man's been exterminated!

I think this is a weak thing to do... he was obviously worried about a humiliating defeat by Lampson. He knew that Lampson was gaining on him and that if Lampson emerged victorious in November, it'd be all over the news and serve a serious blow to the Republican agenda.

Either way, good riddance.