House Democratic leaders and public interest groups today called
on House Majority Leader DeLay to resign his leadership post,
noting that Wednesday's rebuke by the House Ethics Committee is
the fourth against DeLay in his career -- with three of them
coming in the last week.
They argued that DeLay's pattern of unethical behavior calls into question the integrity of the House. "I think that we've made the case that four rebukes by the Ethics Committee make the person unfit to be the leader of the party," Minority Leader Pelosi , a former Ethics Committee member, told reporters.
"I would call upon the Republicans to understand their responsibility to this House and lift this ethical cloud from the Capitol."
Minority Whip Hoyer was more explicit. "I think he should step aside as leader at this point in time," he said.
Democrats praised outgoing Rep. Chris Bell, D-Texas, as "courageous" for filing the threefold complaint against DeLay. Bell was defeated for renomination this year after his district was altered by a DeLay-backed redistricting
While the committee in the last case did not find that DeLay acted illegally or directly violated House rules, it said his participation in a golf fundraiser with Westar Energy Corp. in June 2002 "created an appearance that donors were being provided
special access to [DeLay] regarding then-pending energy legislation." It also admonished DeLay for his role in asking FAA and Justice Department officials to track down Texas state House Democrats who fled to Oklahoma last year in a failed attempt to stop action on a redistricting plan spearheaded by DeLay.
Democrats also took issue with House Speaker Hastert, DeLay and others who claimed the Ethics Committee dismissed the complaints against DeLay.
"Their statements show contempt for the Ethics Committee and for the entire ethics process in the [House]," Bell said today. "This was in no way, shape or form a
dismissal of his actions." Bell noted that the committee reached a unanimous decision to publicly admonish DeLay in a letter for his behavior. "[DeLay] can call it whatever he wants, he can try to mischaracterize what has transpired, but the American people and his colleagues here in this House know the truth," he said.
Public Citizen also called on DeLay to resign today. "Congress and the Republican Party should end the taint of corruption that comes with having Tom DeLay as their leader, and Mr. DeLay should recognize the damage he has wrought to the institution and immediately resign his leadership post," Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook said. "If he does not respect the integrity of the House to step down on his own, his
colleagues should force him to do so."
Additionally, representatives of Campaign for America's Future and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington also called on DeLay to resign, while Common Cause announced it has begun a nationwide petition drive to collect signatures calling on DeLay to resign. There is no indication from DeLay or GOP lawmakers that he will do so. "This is [Pelosi's] step-down person of the week," countered Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill., noting that Pelosi also has called for the resignation of Defense Secretary
Rumsfeld and questioned the ability of former House Intelligence Chairman Goss to lead the CIA.