Tony C. Rudy, who worked for five years as press secretary and deputy chief of staff to Rep. Tom DeLay, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to defraud the U.S. government. This makes him the second former DeLay aide to plead guilty to corruption charges for his role in the sundry business of Jack Abramoff.
As always, the Justice Department heralded the announcement with court filings that included lots of juicy facts about Rudy's and Abramoff's bad deeds. While he worked for DeLay, Rudy improperly accepted Washington Redskins box suite tickets, tickets to the Daytona 500, a private jet trip to the 2000 U.S. Open, and $50,000 in payments to Rudy's wife for "consulting services."
The filings also shed some light on the role of DeLay -- "Representative #2" -- in the Abramoff operation. While it is never good to find yourself in a federal felony case, DeLay may not have much to worry about. Rudy does admit to lobbying DeLay's office shortly after he left his job to work with Abramoff, which is not allowed under the law. But when it comes to anything that would tie DeLay directly to Abramoff, Rudy appears to take the fall himself. For instance, Rudy admits to "falsely representing" that DeLay wanted some lobbying clients to pay $50,000 to a bogus Abramoff charity. That suggests that DeLay did not actually solicit the money, as had previously been suspected.
The plea agreement is less kind to Ohio Rep. Bob Ney -- "Representative #1" -- who is again accused of agreeing "to take favorable official action" after receiving gifts from Rudy and Abramoff.
But the book is not yet closed. Rudy, who faces up to five years in prison, has promised to cooperate with investigators.