The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

11 February 2005

Democrats pitch an ethics fit

House Democratic leaders want Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK 4) off the Ethics Committee, apparently because Cole kicked in five grand to Tom DeLay's legal-defense fund.

In a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer asked that Cole and Lamar Smith (R-TX), also a contributor to DeLay's fund, not be appointed to the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

From the Pelosi-Hoyer letter:

Further inquiries into Mr. DeLay's conduct can be expected; having given money to help defend Mr. DeLay against these precise allegations, Mr. Smith and Mr. Cole should not now sit in judgment of him. While Mr. Smith and Mr. Cole may argue that their contributions will not prejudice their decisions — and we have no reason to doubt their intent to act properly — the perception of many of their colleagues and of the public will be otherwise.

Cole has claimed that Hastert knew about the donation before he started handing out committee assignments.

This would ordinarily be a "Aw, blow it out yer knickers, Nancy" sort of deal, but the ongoing ties to DeLay, who very likely will face more questioning of his ethics, suggest that it might be useful for House Republicans to shuffle the committee assignments once more, if only to sidetrack Democratic sniping.

Posted at 11:59 AM to Political Science Fiction


While Mr. Smith and Mr. Cole may argue that their contributions will not prejudice their decisions and we have no reason to doubt their intent to act properly the perception of many of their colleagues and of the public will be otherwise.

And I have no doubt they'll do everything in their power to make sure of it.

I really doubt the DeLay bashing is going to resonate with more people than the Bush-bashing did last year, so the "appearance of impropriety" argument, by itself, probably isn't very strong here.

And quite frankly, how do you ever put any Republicans on an ethics committee in which Republicans are the majority, without there being ties? Do they want Hastert to find House Republicans who hate DeLay's guts for that assignment?

Well, I imagine they'd like that very much.

Posted by: McGehee at 4:23 PM on 12 February 2005

I'm not keen on this either, but since the Democrats singled out only two Republicans, I have to assume that they won't have further objections once Hastert juggles the roster — or, if they do, that Hastert, polite as always, will tell Nancy Pelosi to go fart up a flagpole.

Posted by: CGHill at 5:36 PM on 12 February 2005

I have to assume that they won't have further objections once Hastert juggles the roster...

Whereas my observations lead me to assume the opposite -- that they've mentioned these two in particular because they're the ones who've been named. I think they'll Jeff-Gannon anybody else that gets named in those men's places to find something to object to. It's a time-honored practice with the Pelosians.

Posted by: McGehee at 2:34 PM on 13 February 2005