Tom DeLay, The Matchmaker of Indian Affairs
Shouldn't Tom "Bugchaser" DeLay be forced to register as a lobbyist? Before he's convicted, that is.
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Tom DeLay's staff tried to help lobbyist Jack Abramoff win access to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, an effort that succeeded after Abramoff's Indian tribe clients began funneling a quarter-million dollars to an environmental group founded by Norton.Try harder, ladies and gentlemen. That's not exactly a Saturday Times crossword.
"Do you think you could call that friend and set up a meeting," then-DeLay staffer Tony Rudy wrote to fellow House aide Thomas Pyle in a Dec. 29, 2000, e-mail titled "Gale Norton-Interior Secretary." President Bush had nominated Norton to the post the day before.
Rudy wrote Abramoff that same day promising he had "good news" about securing a meeting with Norton, forwarding information about the environmental group Norton had founded, according to e-mails obtained by investigators and reviewed by The Associated Press. Rudy's message to Abramoff was sent from Congress' official e-mail system.
Within months, Abramoff clients donated heavily to the Norton-founded group and the lobbyist and one of the tribes he represented won face-to-face time with the secretary during a Sept. 24, 2001, dinner sponsored by the group she had founded.
Federal and congressional investigators obtained the DeLay staff e-mails from Abramoff's former lobbying firm as they try to determine whether officials in Congress or the Bush administration provided government assistance in exchange for the vast amounts of money Abramoff's clients donated to Republican causes.
This next bit I don't get.
The e-mails, however, weren't provided to Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, whose committee held hearings Wednesday into Abramoff's dealings at the Interior department. It has drawn attention, however, among other government investigators examining whether any federal actions were taken in exchange for donations.
Did McCain's committee fail to subpoena these documents? Were they subpoenaed but withheld? Or does the committee have them but hasn't disclosed them, to spare DeLay embarassment or otherwise? How do the reporters know what the committee has and doesn't have?
This, however, is easily explicable.
DeLay's lawyer said this week his client likely didn't know about the assistance his aides gave Abramoff five years ago and does not believe his office would ever provide government assistance in exchange for political donations.
One word. Three letters.
Shortly after the e-mail exchanges, the two DeLay aides, Rudy and Pyle, left DeLay's office for private sector jobs (sic). Rudy went to work for Abramoff while Pyle went to work for the Koch pipeline company, Neither returned calls to their offices this week seeking comment.
Someone needs to put Privates Pyle and Rudy in a wringer and squeeze until the truth comes out.