A shrill mantra you hear from the keyboard commandos who fill the partisan bulletin boards and blogs is that nothing, repeat nothing, which appears on Capitol Hill Blue ever ends up in the so-called “mainstream media.”
Nah. Those who are who are long on judgment and short on research can’t let facts stand in the way of their bias. The Democrats hate us because they remember how we questioned the actions of Bill Clinton. The Republicans hate us because we give the same treatment to George W. Bush.
They conveniently forget our many stories before the Iraq war that questioned the credibility of intelligence claims of weapons of mass destruction (two years ahead of other media) or the stories last year that talked of concerns by White House staff about Bush’s temper tantrums (and reported this year by Newsweek and the New York Daily News, among others) or our stories last year about Bush using the Pentagon and National Security Agency to spy on Americans (and finally reported this year by The New York Times).
“Old news,” claim the detractors. “Give us something more recent.”
You want recent? You can’t handle recent. But just to shove your words back down your skeptical throats, let’s look at this story that I wrote on November 28 of this year, with the headline: Tom DeLay and the GOP: Milking the system for all it’s worth.
Tom DeLay saw a seat in Congress as a way to live large at someone else’s expense. From the time he arrived in Washington after the 1984 elections, DeLay started working the system to line his own pockets.
“I met Delay at the reception for freshmen members of Congress,” recalls retired lobbyist Jackson Russ. “He walked up, looked at my name tag, introduced himself and asked how he could get some honorariums.”
In 1984, honorariums were a quick way for members of Congress to line their own pockets. Special interest groups would invite the Congressman to a get together with executives of their company or top members of the organization and then pay that Congressman directly for the appearance.
Congress banned honorariums in 1989 but that gave DeLay five years to become one of the top earner of fees for appearances on the Hill, adding an average of $27,000 a year to his Congressional salary.
“DeLay bugged everyone for honorariums,” says Roy Abrahams, who lobbied Capitol Hill for oil interests from 1975 through 1990. “Others were subtle. He wasn’t.”
When the ban went into effect, DeLay switched his tactics to soliciting free trips from special interests and contributions to any of several political funds he controlled back in Texas where the rules are lax.
“Like most, we maxed out on Tom DeLay each cycle,” remembers Ann Wilson, who lobbied for health care before leaving Washington to get married. “That’s $10,000 for each election cycle — $5,000 for the primary and $5,000 for the general election. But we kicked in another $50,000 or so each year to his Texas state PACs. I have no idea where that money went.”
According to Texas election records, the money went mostly to DeLay for certain ‘in district expenses,” including clothing, entertainment, cars and travel.’ In all, DeLay received more than $100,000 a year in checks from the PACs for personal expenses.
At the same time, DeLay, his family and top aides, were jetting around the country on corporate jets and taking expensive vacations to Europe – all paid for by special interest groups.”
Now, flash forward three weeks, to Tuesday, December 20, and a story that moved on The Associated Press wire, with this headline: Donors underwrite DeLay’s deluxe lifestyle.
As Tom DeLay became a king of campaign fundraising, he lived like one too. He visited cliff-top Caribbean resorts, golf courses designed by PGA champions and four-star restaurants — all courtesy of donors who bankrolled his political money empire.
Over the past six years, the former House majority leader and his associates have visited places of luxury most Americans have never seen, often getting there aboard corporate jets arranged by lobbyists and other special interests.
Public documents reviewed by The Associated Press tell the story: at least 48 visits to golf clubs and resorts; 100 flights aboard company planes; 200 stays at hotels, many world-class; and 500 meals at restaurants, some averaging nearly $200 for a dinner for two.
Instead of his personal expense, the meals and trips for DeLay and his associates were paid with donations collected by the campaign committees, political action committees and children’s charity the Texas Republican created during his rise to the top of Congress.
His lawyer says the expenses are part of DeLay’s effort to raise money from Republicans and to spread the GOP message.
Put them together and a lifestyle emerges.
Hmmm. Funny how our story re-emerges in the mainstreamers after just enough time expires so that they don’t have to give us credit for it.
And just long enough for the bad-mouthers on the bulletin boards and blogs to forget that we, as usual, had it first.
They may claim they want the truth but, sadly, they can’t handle the truth because the truth doesn’t agree with their biased, partisan view of the world.