DeLay's PAC closes shop
The political action committee for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) was quietly closed last week after a decade-long run as one of the most influential - and infamous - PACs run by members of Congress.
With a final $1,400 payment to the Federal Election Commission last month settling an audit dispute, Americans for a Republican Majority then filed its termination papers with the commission April 24.
Thus ends one more chapter in the storied political rise and fall of DeLay.
Unlike congressional re-election committees - used solely for campaign efforts back in members' districts - so-called leadership PACs are designed almost purely for lawmakers to gain influence inside the Capitol. These PACs take in cash in larger chunks ($5,000 per year) and are used to make contributions (up to $10,000 per election cycle) to other lawmakers.
And, in an 11-year run among GOP leadership ranks, no one in Congress used political money to maximize his own influence more than DeLay. From 2001 through 2005, as DeLay's power reached its apex, his PAC dished out more than $2.6 million in donations to other House and Senate candidates as well as national political party committees.
In 2004, the PAC, known on Capitol Hill as ARMPAC, gave out $781,299 in donations, according to FEC reports. [That's about $150,000 more than the man above him in leadership, then-Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), gave out that year.]
But ARMPAC also helped precipitate DeLay's fall. In the late 1990s, the PAC was run out of a Capitol Hill townhouse that housed a lobbying firm and a questionable non-profit, both of which were run by lobbyist Edwin Buckham, a former chief of staff to DeLay. For several years Buckham's firm employed DeLay's wife, paying her more than $100,000 for what has been widely considered undefined work.
Several years later, the FBI and Justice Department began investigating DeLay's connections to now imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff. To date, the investigation has yielded guilty pleas by Abramoff, two former aides to DeLay, ex-Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), two former Ney aides and a former Interior Department official, among others. Abramoff's and Buckham's clients became major donors to ARMPAC in the late 1990s as well as to non-profits run by the two lobbyists, sometimes with fund-raising help from DeLay. The investigation, which won multiple awards for The Post's investigative team, ,is considered ongoing.
In addition, an offshoot of ARMPAC embroiled DeLay in a separate, ongoing legal saga. He helped form Texans for Republican Majority early in the decade to help push for a GOP takeover of the Lone Star State's legislature, an effort that paid off in a mid-decade redistricting of congressional seats that led to Republican gains on Capitol Hill.
A local prosecutor indicted DeLay in the fall of 2005 on charges he laundered corporate contributions from TRMPAC into local races, in violation of state law which clearly forbid corporate donations. That indictment led to DeLay's stepping down from leadership in late 2005. Those charges are still awaiting trial.
The last remnant of DeLay's political career in federal government, the Tom DeLay Congressional Committee, is just about completely empty as well, reporting just $7,015 left in its coffers as of March 31. DeLay spent almost $1 million last year from this committee defending himself. A separate legal defense fund, which folded when he left Congress, doled out an additional $1.1 million to DeLay lawyers in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
Hardly a shrinking violet, DeLay has not gone away quietly. He just published a book and has started his own blog, where, proving he can dish it out against his arch rivals in mainstream media, DeLay posts daily rants against the MSM and liberal elites that he believes drove him from office.
Here's a portion of today's post: "The old media, with its three main news networks and daily papers of record in the major cities controlling most of the news, has always been a bad thing. Now, however, there are more ideas and more opinions for people to choose from. Internet news, cable, and blogs such as ours are quickly hastening the decline of these dinosaur media elites - and thank goodness. The quicker outfits like the Dallas Morning News and New York Times are relegated to permanent fossil status the better."
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