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More smoke and mirrors for Tom DeLay

Reported by Chrish - April 26, 2005

To follow The Big Story about Tom DeLay's presidential support on The Big Story 4/26/05, guest host Andrew Napolitano had on former Counsel for the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, Bill Canfield. The Judge asked if the ethics rules in Congress are too complicated for them to follow. Thankfully, Canfield said no, but he pretty much gave them a pass on monitoring their own behavior.

He says, essentially, that the exceptions (Comment: which are being brought to public attention to obfuscate DeLays actual real lapses) are generally not someone trying to hide anything, just a matter of paperwork falling through the proverbial cracks.

Napolitano askes if there is a perception on the Hill that this area of behavior is not rigidly enforced so there's "wiggle room"? Canfield says no, there are multiple instances of disclosure required so members are not hiding anything from the public.

Napolitano asks the loaded question: "Did Tom DeLay really do anything, if the allegations are true, that's that awful, or is he just in the cross-hairs of people who never wanted George w Bush to get a second term at all?" (Comment: I love that he didn't say "re-elected".)

Canfied (surprise) thinks "more the latter than the former." He says " I've gone through some of those records and he's done nothing untoward. He was approached by an individual who asked him if he would like to travel abroad, to meet Margaret Thatcher and some members of the British Parliament. He said yes. The invitation eventually came from the group that sponsored the travel. It is not an obligation that falls on his shoulders to look into whoever it is that's behind the travel and that's sponsoring the travel and paying for it. So he's done nothing wrong, and all this sturm and drang on Capitol Hill about poor Tom DeLay suggests to me that it's more an effort to destabilize his leadership than anything else."

Napolitano asks, "Are the knives going to go the other way? Speaker Hastert told Sean Hannity yesterday that he thinks there's 4 or 5 really top level Democrats who have done the same things that Tom DeLay is now being accused of."

Canfield agrees, citing a Washington Post news story from this morning that suggests that Nancy Pelosi may have not reported a trip to SouthEast Asia a couple of years ago. He says that within minutes of receiving the call from the Post, one of her staffers "screamed down to the Clerk of the House to file the appropriate disclosure paperwork. But that was two years after the fact."

Napolitano says "It sounds like nobody takes these disclosure issues seriously, unless they're in the crosshairs, or unless they're attacking somebody and they're afraid the attack is going to come back at them."

Canfield points out that Congress members need to rely on staff to help them keep track and fill out correct paperwork, but that ultimately the paperwork is only as good as the information given to the staff. If the information doesn't get to the staff in a timely manner then the Congressperson pays the price in the form of a PR nightmare.

Comments: Canfield gives DeLay a pass on being responsible for knowing who is sponsoring his luxurious travels. I think he is being disengenuous. If not DeLay, then who?

Republicans can't have it both ways, demanding responsibility from parents, schools, bankrupted families, and consumers, and then not hold a rich, well-staffed, supposedly intelligent "public servant" to the same standard.

Comment: Tsk, tsk, the impartial judge is increasingly Foxified. "Nobody"?

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