Nailing the Hammer, Round 1

A Texas court ruling on Thursday starts to tighten the squeeze on Tom DeLay.

Published May 26, 2005 10:02PM (EDT)

"It would be quite easy to write an entire book about how Democrats, and many in the press, have chosen to selectively report and strategically ignore many FACTS about me and my work as Congressman for the 22nd District," wrote Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in a note to supporters last month, while under heavy fire in the media. "Rather than run the laundry list of unfounded attacks, I thought it would be helpful to briefly outline some recent issues and provide you with information that tells the real story. I think when you see the consistent pattern of information that has been largely ignored or unreported it will help you dispel any other unsubstantiated allegations."

A judge in Texas is having trouble seeing it that way.

State District Judge Joseph H. Hart ruled Thursday that the treasurer of a political fundraising committee organized by DeLay violated the state's election law by failing to report $684,507 in contributions from corporations and other donors in 2002.

"The House Ethics Committee has run out of excuses for avoiding an investigation into Rep. DeLay's involvement with Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, in a statement. "Now that a Texas court has held that TRMPAC violated the law, the Ethics Committee finally must consider the extent to which Tom DeLay was involved in the conspiracy to violate Texas campaign laws in order to gerrymander Texas Congressional districts."

The civil court ruling, notes the Washington Post, is the first to sustain complaints by Democrats that improper acts underpinned a Texas political victory engineered by DeLay and his advisors, which had the effect of cementing Republican control of the House of Representatives.

We suspect it might not be the last. If you're interested in the campaign to continue chipping away at the Hammer, pay a visit here.

By Mark Follman

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

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