Congressional Accountability Project
1322 18th Street NW, Suite 36
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 296-2787
fax (202) 833-2406

September 5, 1996

Honorable Nancy Johnson
Chairwoman
House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct
U. S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairwoman Johnson:

This letter constitutes a call for investigation of House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX) for improperly linking campaign fundraising to official actions and performing political favors for his brother, Randy DeLay, who is a registered foreign lobbyist. We are writing pursuant to House Rule 10, which authorizes the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to investigate "any alleged violation, by a member, officer or employee of the House, of the Code of Official Conduct or of any law, rule, regulation or standard of conduct applicable to the conduct of such member, officer, or employee in the performance of his duties or the discharge of his responsibilities."
 

In a November 27, 1995 Washington Post article, David Maraniss and Michael Weisskopf wrote: We are calling for an investigation into whether House Majority Whip DeLay has contravened or is continuing to contravene standards of Congressional conduct prohibiting linkages between campaign contributions and official activities, either in the case described in the Washington Post, or other possible instances. In particular, has House Majority Whip DeLay been linking campaign contributions to Republican party committees, Republican members of Congress, and Republican Congressional candidates with action on legislative or other official matters?

The Washington Post article states that House Majority Whip DeLay's

But what exactly are these rules? If House Majority Whip DeLay required certain lobbyists or their PACs to contribute more to Republicans than to Democrats before receiving either access or legislative favors, then this constitutes an impermissible linkage between campaign contributions and official action. Even worse, the Washington Post article raises the specter that House Majority Whip DeLay has systematically engaged in a pattern of prohibited linkage between fundraising and official actions, using the list of the contribution patterns of the largest 400 PACs to bully lobbyists and PAC directors to contribute more money to Republican causes.

The House Ethics Manual states that:

The House Ethics Manual quotes with approval the following passage from the Senate Ethics Committee's report on the Investigation of Senator Alan Cranston: The House Ethics Manual continues: House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct Advisory Opinion No. 1, in discussing Congressional communications with executive and federal agencies, states that: Finally, the House Ethics Manual warns that: Applying these guidelines, the Washington Post article raises the clear possibility that Rep. DeLay violated standards of conduct requiring House members to adopt strict neutrality towards campaign contributions, whether as an implicit plea for official action, or accompanying an explicit plea. Congressman DeLay's comments suggest that he is not strictly neutral, that he is in fact highly partial toward contributors to Republican candidates, and averse to contributors to Democratic candidates.
  House Majority Whip Tom DeLay's brother, Randy DeLay, is a registered foreign lobbyist. Randy DeLay has represented clients before his brother, and has apparently obtained powerful assistance from Rep. DeLay for some of these clients. Frank Greve of Knight-Ridder wrote:
  Randy DeLay has represented Cemex S. A. de C. V., a Mexican cement company, in a trade dispute with the United States. The dispute concerns whether the United States will revoke an anti-dumping order against Mexican cement producers. House Majority Whip DeLay encouraged other House Members to sign onto a letter to U. S. Department of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and United States Trade Representative Mickey Kantor urging them to intercede on behalf of Cemex and other Mexican cement producers. On October 23, 1995, Alice Love wrote in Roll Call that:
  On July 18, 1995, the Houston Chronicle printed an op-ed piece by Rep. DeLay titled "No Concrete Reason to Block Mexican Cement." According to Roll Call, the op-ed was "unsolicited." Without mentioning Cemex by name, Rep. DeLay's op-ed supported Cemex's position that it should be allowed to sell its cement in the United States without being forced to pay a "dumping duty."(9)

This vigorous assistance by Rep. DeLay in support of the efforts of his lobbyist brother produces the clear impression that Rep. DeLay has provided special and inappropriate political favors to his brother and to Cemex.

In another similar case, Randy DeLay has represented the I-69 Mid-Continent Highway Coalition, which is trying to obtain Congressional action to redesignate that highway as a federal highway, so that it is eligible for federal highway funds.

National Journal quoted Rep. DeLay's regarding his efforts on behalf of his brother and the I-69 Mid-Continent Highway Coalition: "He [Randy DeLay] represents the I-69 corridor, and we worked with him on that."(10) Several news articles indicate that Rep. DeLay was a major proponent of the I-69 project. The Houston Chronicle reported that "House Majority Whip Tom DeLay...was a major supporter of designating the I-69 route as a 'high priority corridor'..."(11) A United Press International article states that "DeLay has led efforts to design U.S. 59 as I-69."(12) An Austin American-Statesman article about the route stated that the National Highway System Bill "includes the U.S. 59 language inserted by Rep. Tom DeLay..."(13) Knight-Ridder reported that:

Randy DeLay also represented Union Pacific in their effort to win approval of their merger with Southern Pacific. Frank Greve wrote: In each of these cases it appears that House Majority Whip DeLay has provided special and inappropriate favors to his lobbyist brother and his clients. The Code of Ethics for Government Service states that: Although the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct has not addressed this aspect of favoritism, the Senate has. The Senate Select Committee on Ethics reprimanded Senator Alfonse D'Amato (R-NY) for allowing his brother to use the Senator's office on behalf of a client. The Committee wrote that Finally, if House Majority Whip Tom DeLay has engaged in influence peddling, that would likely constitute a violation of the House Code of Official Conduct, which states that:   The appearance or actuality of favoritism, whether on behalf of campaign contributors or family members with special financial interests, destroys public confidence in the Congress and the federal legislative process. Members of Congress should not provide special treatment or special favors for campaign contributors. Nor should they require campaign contributions as a precursor to official action by the Congress. Nor should they provide preferential treatment for relatives or their clients. We strongly urge you to immediately appoint an outside counsel to undertake a thorough and impartial investigation of these charges against Congressman Tom DeLay.

Sincerely,
 
 

Gary Ruskin
Director


Certificate of Service

This is to certify that I have today, by hand delivery, provided an exact copy of this complaint to the Respondent in this matter, Representative Tom DeLay, at the following address:

Representative Tom DeLay
203 Cannon House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
 
 
 
 

Gary Ruskin
Complainant


Endnotes

1. David Maraniss and Michael Weisskopf, "Speaker and His Directors Make the Cash Flow Right." Washington Post, November 27, 1995. See Attachment #1.

2. House Ethics Manual at 250.

3. Senate Select Committee on Ethics, Investigation of Senator Alan Cranston, S. Rep. No. 102-223, 102d Cong., 1st Sess. 11-12 (1991). Quoted in the House Ethics Manual at 250-51.

4. House Ethics Manual at 251, quoting from Cranston Report at 29.

5. Quoted in House Ethics Manual at 265.

6. House Ethics Manual at 257.

7. Frank Greve, "Brothers." Austin American-Statesman, August 22, 1996. Attachment #2 also includes Jan Reid, "Poison and Pork," Mother Jones, September/October, 1996.

8. Alice Love, "DeLay Brothers Lay a Trail of Cement." Roll Call, October 23, 1995. Attachment #3 also includes "The Brothers DeLay." Editorial, Roll Call, October 23, 1995. Nancy Mathis, "Criticism of DeLay, Brother Hardens Over Cement Tariff." Houston Chronicle, October 19, 1995. "DeLay Intervenes for Firm Represented by Brother," National Journal's CongressDaily, October 23, 1995. Dear Colleague from Reps. Gene Green and Tom DeLay "Cement: Price Increases and Rationing." Correspondence to then-Secretary of Commerce Ronald H. Brown and then-U.S. Trade Representative Michael Kantor, August 4, 1995.

9. See Attachment #4.

10. "What Are Brothers for?" National Journal, March 2, 1996. See Attachment #5.

11. Dan Feldstein, "Altoona, Pa., Visitor Gets Earful About Interstate 69." Houston Chronicle, September 30, 1995.

12. "I-69 sign unveiled along U.S. 59." United Press International, December 4, 1995.

13. "Bill May Change U.S. 59 to I-69." Austin American-Statesman, November 21, 1995.

14. See Atttachment # 6 for correspondence from Reps. Geren, Bonilla, DeLay, Fields, Barton, and Stockman to Vernon A. Williams, Secretary, Surface Transportation Board, February 28, 1996.

15. Senate Select Committee on Ethics, Statement of the Committee Regarding Senator D'Amato, August 2, 1991 at 8.