DeLay gets spanked by the old-school GOP

Ten former Republican congressman blast DeLay's dubious changes to House ethics rules -- and fear that he's the party's next Nixon.

Published April 15, 2005 6:29PM (EDT)

Another hole today in Tom DeLay's sinking ship: Ten former members of Congress, all Republicans, sent a letter on Friday to the House leadership saying they believed that recent revisions in House ethics rules were an "obvious action to protect Majority Leader Tom DeLay" from investigation. They called for the changes to be reversed "to restore public confidence in the People's House."

The 10 former lawmakers who signed the letter have all been out of Congress since the late 1980's; they described themselves as former members "who served under impeccably honest leaders." That may be stretching the concept a bit, but their bottom line seems to be that, well, at least a basic appearance of integrity is important.

"We offer no judgment on Mr. DeLay's actions in the obtaining of funds and favors from lobbyists and foreign agencies, other than to note that they are the subject of continuing disclosure and discussion well outside the Beltway and in the heart of areas of strong respect for traditional Republican values of honesty and accountability," the former congressmen said. "We write not as a Revolt of the Elders but in the sincere hope that you will act to restore public confidence in the People's House."

"We felt grave concern," the letter added, "when the Republican leadership changed the ethics rules several weeks ago to require a bipartisan majority vote to even investigate a charge of ethical misconduct. We saw it as an obvious action to protect Majority Leader Tom DeLay."

Right now it's looking like he could use all the protection he can get. As one of the signatories, former congressman Pete McCloskey put it, "if the Republicans circle their wagons around DeLay like they circled their wagons around Richard Nixon, it may have the same result."

By Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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