It is early in the week to have loose ends, so I wanted to make sure I tied them all up -- there were a few news items from last week and over the weekend to note. Here goes:
Watchdogging the Ethics Process
The Congressional Ethics Coalition -- a nonpartisan, ideologically diverse group of eight government watchdog groups -- released a statement on Thursday last week about the proposed congressional rules changes that, in the coalition's estimation (and they are right) would cripple the already weak ethics oversight process in the House of Representatives. The statement also criticizes the public speculation about retribution against sitting members of the House Ethics Committee.
The ethics coalition is comprised of the Campaign Legal Center, the Center for Responsive Politics, Common Cause, Citizens for Responsibility for Ethics in Washington, Democracy 21, Judicial Watch, Public Campaign and Public Citizen. (Full disclosure: Public Campaign and Public Campaign Action Fund are related organziations. Public Campaign is a 501(c)3 public education organziation; PCAF is a 501(c)4 activist-oriented organization. This blog is run by PCAF.)
Houston Chronicle profiles DeLay
In a piece interestingly different from the National Journal article excerpted Friday, the Houston Chronicle's Gebe Martinez writes up DeLay's kingdom. Here is the central dilemma for Republicans in Congress:
The main source of his latest political troubles — his successful campaign to have Texas lawmakers redistrict the state's congressional seats for this year's election — is also a huge reason DeLay is in good standing with House Republicans.
They are mindful that, had it not been for the resulting six-seat increase in the Texas GOP House delegation, the party would have suffered a net loss of House seats in the November election, Bush's popularity notwithstanding.
That rings mostly true. Though I wouldn't underestimate the ambition of members of Congress. Yes, they want to be in the majority, and DeLay has delivered on that. But they want to stay in the majority, and a significant number of them want to climb the leadership ladder. The top rungs are occupied by DeLay & Co. It just stands to reason that if ambitious GOP pols sense that DeLay and the swirling scandals around him hurts both the GOP continued hold on power and ascension into leadership, look for a tremendous growth in palace intrigue in the House Republican Conference. Martinez doesn't delve too far down this path in his piece.
Indian gaming scandal involves former DeLay associates and Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH)
This story has been developing for a while, and I have been tracking it. We will have more to say about it later. But the most recent development that Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) is talking to the House Ethics Committee about how he agreed to insert legislative language on Indian gaming at the behest of lobbyists Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon (both DeLay associates) makes this worth noting and watching even more closely. Abramoff and Scanlon have charged various Native American tribes $66 million, which has attracted an investigation by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).