Dropping the Hammer

Between weeks of bad press and a grass-roots email campaign, Tom DeLay is losing some corporate friends.

Published May 5, 2005 3:38PM (EDT)

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's legal defense fund has been drying up of late, due to dwindling contributions from citizens, government leaders and corporations who once rallied around him. No doubt major media coverage of DeLay's various ethics violations has played a part; American Progress Action Fund's "Drop the Hammer" campaign, targeting five of DeLay's corporate supporters, has also helped drain the coffers of his Legal Expense Trust.

Launched last month, the campaign generated more than 200,000 emails to the companies, and on Wednesday the group announced that three of the corporations -- American Airlines, Verizon, and Nissan North America -- have written DeLay off.

"We congratulate these companies for responding to the public's concern and taking a positive step towards restoring confidence in an ethical government," John Podesta, the group's president, said in a statement.

Two of the companies downplayed their past contributions. "The $5,000 contribution, made three years ago, was done by an individual who is no longer part of [the company]," an American Airlines representative wrote to the American Progress Action Fund.

"It is Verizon's corporate policy not to contribute to legal defense funds," the telecom company responded. "This policy has been in effect for several years. The contribution cited by your organization was made almost four years ago, before that policy went into effect."

Nissan North America was a bit more forthright about its relationship to DeLay, noting its $5,000 donation in July 2001. "We have not made any subsequent donation to this trust, we will not make any donations to the trust in the future and we do not plan to seek a refund," a spokesman said.

To date, no word from RJ Reynolds or Bacardi USA, despite having received over 60,000 emails between them. Next week, American Progress Action Fund will launch a national radio campaign in further effort to persuade them to pull their support for the Republican leader.

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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