DeLay's dwindling defenses

With DeLay on the ropes the media is pulling no punches -- while former supporters appear to be pulling funds.

Published April 8, 2005 10:58PM (EDT)

With allegations of financial and political misconduct coming fast and furious at Tom DeLay, it's no wonder he's gotten himself a few good lawyers. But with so many legal fires to put out, the House Majority Leader's bills have been piling up -- while donors to his legal defense fund are drying up. The Dallas Morning News reports that the Tom DeLay Legal Expense Trust only received $50,000 so far this year -- significantly less than the $430,000 it took in during the second half of last year, before DeLay put his foot in his mouth over the whole Terri Schiavo affair.

The Center for American Progress has created a Web site to draw attention to five corporations that gave thousands of dollars to DeLay's defense fund between its inception in 2000 and December 2004: American Airlines, Bacardi USA, Nissan USA, RJ Reynolds, and Verizon. "Consumers shouldn't have to facilitate Tom DeLay's unethical behavior with their purchases," Laura Nichols, a Senior Vice President at the Center for American Progress, told the Morning News. "We demand that these companies ask for their money back and drop their support of Tom DeLay."

Bacardi is one of several companies indicted along with two of DeLay's top associates for funneling illegal corporate contributions into DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority PAC in 2002, but the company still saw fit to make a $3,000 donation to the Congressman's defense fund. Contributions to the fund from corporations and current House members have each accounted for a third of DeLay's fund since it was created, according to Public Citizen.

Other progressive groups have jumped into the fray against DeLay in recent weeks, launching a series of ads calling for DeLay's resignation. With support dwindling in his home district and damaging exposés knocking him around in just about every major newspaper, the beleaguered Majority Leader may need more than a good legal defense to stay on his feet: He may need a miracle.

By Julia Scott

San Francisco-based freelance journalist Julia Scott writes about water and energy issues for various publications. She also covers the environment for Bay Area News Group, a chain of newspapers in Northern California.

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