Congressional Accountability Project
1322 18th Street NW, Suite 36
Washington, DC 20036
fax (202) 833-2406
September 5, 1996
Honorable Nancy Johnson
House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct
U. S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairwoman Johnson:
RE: Call for Investigation into Possible Violations of Standards
of Congressional Conduct by House Majority Whip Tom DeLay
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:
A: Congressman DeLay Appears to Have Violated Prohibitions Against
Linking Campaign Contributions to Official Actions
In the annals of the House Republican revolution, a pivotal moment
came last April when an unsuspecting corporate lobbyist entered the inner
chamber of Majority Whip Tom DeLay....The Texas congressman was standing
at his desk that afternoon, examining a document that listed the amounts
and percentages of money that the 400 largest political action committees
had contributed to Republicans and Democrats over the last two years. Those
who gave heavily to the GOP were labeled "Friendly," the others "Unfriendly."
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?
"See, you're in the book," DeLay said to his visitor, leafing through
the list. At first the lobbyist was not sure where his group stood, but
DeLay helped clear up his confusion. By the time the lobbyist left the
congressman's office, he knew that to be a friend of the Republican leadership
his group would have to give the party a lot more money.(1)
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
motto is an unabashedly blunt interpretation of the dictums of Speaker
Newt Gingrich: "If you want to play in our revolution, you have to live
by our rules."
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
considerations such as political support, party affiliation, or campaign
contributions should not affect either the decision of a Member to provide
assistance or the quality of the help that is given.(2)
The cardinal principle governing Senators' conduct in this area is
that a Senator and a Senator's office should make decisions about whether
to intervene with the executive branch or independent agencies on behalf
of an individual without regard to whether the individual has contributed,
or promises to contribute, to the Senator's campaigns or other causes in
which he or she has a financial, political or personal interest. . . .
The House Ethics Manual continues:
Because Senators occupy a position of public trust, every Senator always
must endeavor to avoid the appearance that the Senator, the Senate, or
the governmental process may be influenced by campaign contributions or
other benefits provided by those with significant legislative or governmental
interests. . . .(3)
House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct Advisory Opinion No. 1,
in discussing Congressional communications with executive and federal agencies,
The Senate Committee concluded that "established norms of Senate behavior
do not permit linkage between . . . official actions and . . . fund raising
activities." House Members, too, should be aware of the appearance of impropriety
that could arise from championing the causes of contributors and take care
not to show favoritism to them over other constituents.(4)
Finally, the House Ethics Manual warns that:
A Member's responsibility...is to all his constituents equally and
should be pursued with diligence irrespective of political or other considerations.(5)
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.
Caution should always be exercised to avoid the appearance that solicitations
of campaign contributions are connected in any way with a legislator's
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:
B: Call for Investigation into Whether Rep. DeLay Has Engaged in
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:
Two years ago, Randy DeLay was a lawyer in Houston, practicing alone.
Then DeLay's older brother Tom was elected majority whip, the third ranking
Republican in the House....Shortly afterward, Randy DeLay, 46, got in the
business of lobbying Congress. Clients found him quickly. In his first
year lobbying, he took in more than $550,000, federal records show.(7)
House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) circulated a letter to Members
this summer that helped his brother Randy, a registered lobbyist, drum
up Congressional support for a foreign client.
DeLay's letter, distributed to Members in late July asked Members to
back the cause of Cemex, Mexico's largest cement company, in a US trade
dispute. It was also signed by Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas).
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)
Cemex is represented on Capitol Hill by Randy DeLay, a Houston attorney
who handles the lobbying account in a joint venture with the Washington
office of the Texas law firm Fulbright & Jaworski....(8)
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
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
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:
Since May 1995, the I-69 Mid Continent Highway Coalition, which is
promoting a new Houston-to-Laredo interstate, has paid the younger DeLay
$120,000, records show. He's earned another $155,999 from Pharr Economic
Development Corp., which is part of a coalition of Texas border cities,
including Brownsville and McAllen, that seek federal money for highways
connecting them to Houston.
Rep. DeLay is a co-chairman of the congressional I-69 coalition and
second-ranking Republican on the House Appropriations subcommittee that
hands out federal grants for highway construction.
Randy DeLay also represented Union Pacific in their effort to win approval
of their merger with Southern Pacific. Frank Greve wrote:
No significant federal money has been committed yet for any interstate
linking Houston to Mexican border cities that lie due south. But Rep. DeLay
proposed last month that priority be given to aid for highways that promote
the goals of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The measure would
be popular throughout southern Texas and is precisely what lobbyist DeLay's
clients are seeking.
In two other instances where the DeLays fought on the same side, the
issues were more controversial, even among Texas voters.
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:
One case involved the majority whip's support last spring of the proposed
$5.4 billion acquisition -- since approved -- of the Southern Pacific railroad
by the Union Pacific Railroad. Concern about anti-competitive effects of
the merger wag growing at the time, particularly in Houston, because the
deal gave Union Pacific control of 11 of the 13 rail lines into the city.
The younger DeLay and Fulbright & Jaworski both lobbied on Union
Pacific's behalf. Lobbyist DeLay said his duties included getting House
Republicans from Texas to sign on with Rep. DeLay in a "Dear Colleague"
letter supporting the merger. As opposition to it grew, their signatures,
in effect, froze them in its favor.(14)
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
Any person in Government service should. . .[n]ever discriminate unfairly
by the dispensing of special favors or privileges to anyone...
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:
it is the duty of every United States Senator to conduct his or her
office in a manner that precludes its systematic misuse by members of his
or her family for personal gain. The activities of Senator D'Amato's brother
on behalf of Unisys constituted such a misuse. Senator D'Amato conducted
the business of his office in an improper and inappropriate manner.(15)
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.
A Member, officer, or employee of the House of Representatives shall
conduct himself at all times in a manner which shall reflect creditably
on the House of Representatives.
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
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.