Tom DeLay and House Ethics
Author: Samuel Metz
Representative Tom DeLay
employed his wife and daughter as political consultants
and paid them several hundred thousand dollars. He and
other Republican leaders of the House state this practice
is both commonplace and acceptable.
They may be right.
In fact, it would be worth
while for Rep. DeLay to prove he is right, as the
consequences of being wrong are daunting. If paying
immediate family members large amounts of money from
professional expenses is not commonplace and acceptable,
then, in the words of the late Latin American philosopher
Desi Arnez, "Luuuuccciii, you got some ‘splaining to do."
But help is just around the
corner. House Republicans can rescue their maligned leader
with a grand gesture that would exonerate him and seize
the shrinking moral high ground in the partisan politics
that engulf our Congress: Let every House Republican list
every family member that they employ and how much they are
What a gesture of support.
Mr. DeLay might then present the results when the press
questions this practice. See, he can state, 60% (let us
guess) of my Republican colleagues have family on staff,
and they’re not ashamed to say so. Then, indeed, Mr. DeLay
can corroborate his explanation: The practice is both
commonplace and acceptable, so find another target, you
Some contentious Democrats
may demur, and claim that just because Republicans engage
in despicable nepotism doesn’t make it right. If they dare
present this argument, the Republican response will be
easy: Show us your own list of family employees. If
Democrats decline to do so or their list reveals the same
degree of incestuous employment, then the dispute is over,
with Republicans the clear winner.
Mr. DeLay should make this
project a high priority. Absolutely the worst scenario for
Mr. Delay would be that the House Democrats create their
own list first, document that nepotism is exceedingly rare
on their side of the aisle, and then proactively censure
their own members who violate this unwritten code.
Of course, if Mr. DeLay
suspects that paying immediate family members from his
professional budget is considered rare and unethical by
all party members, then he might brush up on a
non-partisan resignation speech. Maybe his family can