The Hammer pounds back

DeLay responds to the criminal charge against him: It's all politics, and it always is.

Published September 28, 2005 7:21PM (EDT)

Tom DeLay has just responded to the criminal indictment against him, and he did it in his own inimitable style. The criminal charge, DeLay said, is an "act of blatant political partisanship" brought by a "fanatic" and "zealot" who is seeking retribution for the House majority leader's political successes. DeLay said the case against him is a "sham," a "reckless charge wholly unsupported by the facts" and one of the "weakest, most baseless indictments in American history."

DeLay said he has done nothing wrong and violated no law and that he was confident that the criminal case brought by Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle would be dismissed just like "every one" of the "frivolous accusations" against him have been before.

DeLay may or may not be right about the criminal case, but he's spinning the truth -- as he long has -- about the disposition of previous charges filed against him. A year ago, the bipartisan House Ethics Committee admonished DeLay three times in cases involving allegations that he breached House ethics rules. In September 2004, the House Ethics Committee admonished DeLay for promising to endorse the congressional bid of the son of Rep. Nick Smith in exchange for Smith's vote in favor of the Medicare prescription drug bill. In October 2004, the Ethics Committee admonished DeLay for hosting a fundraiser with energy company officials while Congress was considering energy legislation and for asking the Federal Aviation Administration to track a plane carrying Texas Democratic legislators who left the state to keep DeLay and his allies from moving forward with their redistricting plan.

DeLay claimed at the time that he had been exonerated because the House panel hadn't imposed any penalty on him. "For years, Democrats have hurled relentless personal attacks at me, hoping to tie my hands and smear my name," DeLay said then. "All have fallen short, not because of insufficient venom but because of insufficient merit."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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