1. In 1997, Rep. Tom Delay and four aides take a six-day trip to Moscow, underwritten by business interests lobbying in support of the Russian government. “The expenses were covered by a mysterious company registered in the Bahamas.”
Cost: $57,238

2. In 2000, DeLay participates in an expense-paid trip to London and Scotland that sources said was indirectly financed in part by an Indian tribe and a gambling services company. Cost: $70,000

3. In 2001, DeLay takes trip to South Korea. The trip is financed by a tax-exempt group created by a lobbyist on behalf of a Korean businessman. Cost: $106,921

All of these trips violated House Ethics rules. The Washington Post: Free Registration front-pages the story this morning. Regarding the first trip, they report:

During his six days in Moscow, he played golf, met with Russian church leaders and talked to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, a friend of Russian oil and gas executives associated with the lobbying effort.

DeLay also dined with the Russian executives and two Washington-based registered lobbyists for the Bahamian-registered company, sources say. One of those lobbyists was Jack Abramoff, who is now at the center of a federal influence-peddling and corruption probe related to his representation of Indian tribes.

Ah! See how it all ties in? Abramoff was involved in both the Russian trip and the trip to England and Scotland:

:::

The three foreign trips at issue share common elements. The sponsor of the Moscow trip, the Capitol Hill-based National Center for Public Policy Research, also sponsored the later London trip. The center is a conservative group that solicits corporate, foundation and individual donations.

Also, Abramoff not only joined DeLay in Moscow but also helped organize DeLay’s subsequent London trip. Abramoff also filed expense reports indicating he paid for some of DeLay’s hotel bill in London, according to a copy obtained by The Post.

Edwin A. Buckham, who was DeLay’s chief of staff in 1997 and then became a Washington lobbyist for major corporations, participated in two of the three trips. In 1997, he visited Moscow twice — once with DeLay — and on one of these trips he returned via Paris aboard a Concorde jet with a ticket he told the Associated Press in 1998 had been financed by the National Center.

So, did the Russians get any return on their investment? Was there any quid pro quo? You be the judge.

In that period, prominent Russian businessmen, as well as the Russian government, depended heavily on a flow of billions of dollars in annual Western aid and so had good reason to build bridges to Congress. House Republicans were becoming increasingly critical of U.S. and international lending institutions, such as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the International Monetary Fund, which were then investing heavily in Russia’s fragile economy.

Unlike some House conservatives who scorn such support as “corporate welfare,” DeLay proved to be a “yes” vote for institutions bolstering Russia in this period. For example, DeLay voted for a bill that included the replenishment of billions of dollars in IMF funds used to bail out the Russian economy in 1998.

The rest of the WP article is fascinating and I highly recommend reading it for a glimpse into how shadowy these ties are between Washington lobbying firms, Russian energy interests, and the Russian intelligence agencies. When they team up to wine and dine powerful Congressmen like Tom DeLay, it creates a witch’s brew of intrigue and corruption. Even the Washington Post is left at somewhat of a loss to explain whose interests were being served.

But what is clear is that the case for removing Tom DeLay from office is building. And that day cannot come too soon. At least, it can’t come too soon for those of us that expect ethical behavior from our representatives.

Naturally, the slithering snake sees things differently:

DeLay on March 18 portrayed criticism of his trips and close ties to lobbyists as the product of a conspiracy to “destroy the conservative movement” by attacking its leaders, such as himself. “This is a huge, nationwide, concerted effort to destroy everything we believe in,” DeLay told supporters at the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group.

Right. You believe in taking money from foreign businessmen so that you can go golfing with foreign dignitaries, and decide U.S. policy based on their agenda…not ours. We DO want “destroy everything you believe in”.

Postscript: I note that Markos is hoping that DeLay will last another six months. He is hoping that DeLay will become an albatross around the Republican’s necks. I understand his reasoning, but I am eager for our first big-time frog-march. I want to see DeLay in handcuffs, and I want to see them lower his head into the patrol car. The longer he survives the greater the likelihood that he’ll slither out of the trap. I vote for a resignation within the month, with indictments to follow.

0 0 votes
Article Rating