Congressional Accountability Project


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Ralph Nader
P. O. Box 19312
Washington, DC 20036

July 15, 1996

Honorable David Bonior
House Minority Whip
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative Bonior:

I am writing to encourage you, once again, to transmit ethics complaints against House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX) and House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bud Shuster (R-PA) to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

In February, I called to urge you to find two House Democrats willing to transmit ethics complaints against Reps. Shuster and DeLay. At that time, the Congressional Accountability Project had drafted ethics complaints against Reps. Shuster and DeLay, and was seeking letters of transmittal for these complaints.

As you know, House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct Rule 14(d) and (e) state that an ethics complaint from a non-House member must be accompanied by letter of transmittal from a House Member, or be accompanied by three letters of refusal. Gary Ruskin, Director of the Congressional Accountability Project, had called 45 House Democratic offices(1), but had not found a single House member willing to provide a letter of transmittal or refusal in the DeLay case. Similarly, after calls to 19 Democratic House members(2), none was willing to provide letters of transmittal or refusal for the Shuster case.

There are substantial grounds for these ethics complaints.

In February, you argued that this was currently a sensitive phase in the Gingrich ethics process, and that after approximately two weeks, that sensitive phase would be over. You said that you thought that someone should file ethics complaints against Shuster and DeLay.

Now it is July, and the Congressional Accountability Project is still unable to find letters of transmittal or refusal for the ethics complaints against Representatives Shuster and DeLay.

The failure to House Democrats to file these ethics complaints against Reps. Shuster and DeLay is one more indication of an unhealthy intersection of interests and disincentives between the two parties that pervades the Congress. The Democrats need to uphold their responsibility in a two party system. Failure in this matter is reminiscent of the pact between Democratic and Republican leaders in 1989 promising to punish any member of Congress or Congressional candidate who would criticize the scandalous 1989 Congressional pay raise during the 1990 election cycle, which helped Rep. Newt Gingrich win by 1,000 votes.

Will you or other House Democrats transmit ethics complaints against Reps. Shuster and DeLay? Will you commit to finding two House Democrats among the 198 Democrats willing to transmit the ethics complaints against Reps. Shuster and DeLay?

Congressman Bonior, your work in pursuing the Gingrich ethics case has been a real service to the American people. Speaker Gingrich should not be above the law, and your efforts have been critical in trying to ensure that the Speaker be held accountable for his actions. This good work makes the disinterest in transmitting complaints in the Shuster and DeLay matters even more bizarre and incomprehensible. Please transmit the complaints against Reps. DeLay and Shuster.

Sincerely,

Ralph Nader

Endnotes

1. Offices of Representatives Richard Gephardt, David Bonior, George Miller, Andy Jacobs, Luis Gutierrez, David Obey, John Conyers, Pat Schroeder, Pete Peterson, Harry Johnston, Ed Markey, Charles Schumer, Major Owens, Mike Ward, Ed Towns, Scotty Baesler, Sam Farr, Maxine Waters, Bob Filner, Glenn Poshard, Peter DeFazio, Lloyd Doggett, Sheila Jackson Lee, Lynn Rivers, Cynthia McKinney, Zoe Lofgren, John Lewis, Nydia Velasquez, Anthony Beilenson, Cardiss Collins, Jack Reed, William Jefferson, Patsy Mink, Lane Evans, Frank Mascara, Lynn Woolsey, Robert Scott, Martin Sabo, Bill Luther, Jerrold Nadler, Carolyn Maloney, Karen McCarthy, Frank Pallone, Robert Menendez, and Tom Barrett.

2. Offices of Representatives David Bonior, Richard Gephardt, George Miller, Luis Gutierrez, John Conyers, John Lewis, Pat Schroeder, Lloyd Doggett, Harry Johnston, Maxine Waters, Peter DeFazio, Patsy Mink, Pat Williams, Andy Jacobs, Sheila Jackson Lee, Frank Pallone, James Oberstar, Robert Menendez and Bob Filner.