Friday, June 02, 2006

"All DeLay's Children"

From The Nation - All DeLay's Children (including one of his favorate son's, Richard Pombo.)
"If the toothless lobbying "reform" bill approved by the House and Senate is any indication, we haven't seen the last of the likes of Jack Abramoff or Tom DeLay. DeLay exits Congress June 9, but his influence lives on. His former deputy, Dennis Hastert, remains Speaker of the House. His key liaison to lobbyists on K Street, Roy Blunt, is majority whip. Even John Boehner, a rival from the Gingrich years, retained three DeLay staffers when he became majority leader. More important, the Hammer left many nails behind among the lower tier of House GOP leadership members, committee chairmen, party spokesmen and fundraisers he propelled to power. These are the people who will shape the GOP's agenda for years to come. Here are five disciples who are carrying on DeLay's legacy.


§ Richard Pombo (age 45). With his cowboy hats and ostrich-skin boots, Pombo fancies himself a "Capitol Cowboy." To government watchdogs, he's "Dirty Dick," a militant antienvironmentalist and Abramoff crony. The California rancher has raised hundreds of thousands from big business for fellow Republicans and enjoyed close ties with recently indicted DeLay staffer Tony Rudy. Pombo and fellow DeLay protégé John Doolittle (himself a top Republican under investigation for assisting Abramoff) helped kill a government investigation into a Houston-based DeLay donor responsible for a $1.6 billion savings-and-loan scandal in Texas. At the same time Pombo's staff was cultivating ties to Abramoff, DeLay helped Pombo leapfrog ahead of six more-senior Republicans to become chairman of the House Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over Indian gaming. At age 42, Pombo was the youngest chairman in the House. "This is the guy DeLay wanted," former House Ethics Committee chair Joel Hefley remarked. Pombo has used the position to try to destroy the Endangered Species Act, reward big-donor polluters, ignore calls for an investigation into Abramoff's tribal clients, give his chief of staff two salaries and pay his wife and brother $357,000 over the past four years for "consulting" work. More recently, Pombo has come under fire for renting an RV for a family vacation and sticking taxpayers with the bill.


Of course, recent polls indicate that the House DeLay built might yet collapse. If Republicans lose their majority in November, or a significant number of seats, a major shake-up could derail the careers of quite a few DeLay disciples. The guilt is only likely to accumulate. Two of DeLay's top aides have already been indicted in the Abramoff investigation. Reports suggest that DeLay's key spiritual adviser and lobbyist, Ed Buckham, along with another former protégé, Ohio Representative Bob Ney, are in the cross-hairs of the law. And ABC News claims that Dennis Hastert is "in the mix." DeLay himself faces trial in Texas and remains a target in the Abramoff probe. As his disciples are learning, it's no longer a good day to be a comrade of DeLay. " (More-At-Source)


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