So Much For Moral Values Molly IvinsMy, my, gonna be a long four years. House Republicans have rewritten the ethics rules so Tom DeLay won't have to r
November 18, 2004

So Much For Moral Values Molly Ivins

My, my, gonna be a long four years. House Republicans have rewritten the ethics rules so Tom DeLay won't have to resign if indicted after all. Let's hear it for moral values. DeLay is one of the leading forces in making "Republican ethics" into an oxymoron.

The rule was passed in 1993, when Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, was being investigated for ethics violations. And who helped lead the floor fight to force him to resign his powerful position? Why, Tom DeLay, of course. (Actually, it's sort of a funny story. The D's already had a caucus rule that you had to resign from any leadership position if indicted. The R's changed their rules to match the D's, except they deliberately did not make their rule retroactive, so the highly indicted Rep. Joseph McDade, senior Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, could, unlike Rostenkowski, retain his seat.)

DeLay has already been admonished by the House ethics committee three times on separate violations of ethics rules. Please note, that is the Republican-dominated ethics committee. The hilarious rationale offered by the R's for the new rule to exempt DeLay is that no one can accuse them of taking the moral low road here because, "That line of reasoning accepts that exercise of the prosecutor in Texas is legitimate." Uh, that would Ronnie Earle of Austin, who is a known Democrat. One the other hand, Earle is quite noted for having indicted more Democratic officeholders than Republicans, so it's a little hard to argue that this is a partisan political probe. Or it would be, if facts made any difference these days to talk-show screamers...

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