A Texas energy company
being investigated with regards to improper fundraising
by those connected with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay
(R-TX) held a baby shower for DeLay's daughter Danielle
Ferro in May 2002—and the event was attended by
lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who paid for some of the congressman’s
overseas travel, RAW STORY
The shower, reported in the Washington, D.C. newspaper
Roll Call Jun. 10, 2002 (article
posted here), was held at the Washington offices
of Reliant Energy Inc., a Texas-based power company
that has given heavily to DeLay and his political action
Donations collected from Reliant by a DeLay-linked
political action committee are now the subject of a
Texas state probe. DeLay’s daughter Danielle helped
manage that committee, Texans for a Republican Majority,
and her records have been subpoenaed by an Austin grand
An energy lobbyist who counted Reliant among her clients
set up the May 10, 2002 event which she estimated cost
“Dani and I have been friends a long time,”
the lobbyist told Roll Call.
Just a few weeks later, DeLay held a two-day golf tournament
where Reliant chipped in $25,000 to the committee now
being investigated in Texas—a contribution that
a group later discovered was not reported in campaign
filings. Shortly thereafter, DeLay conferenced on an
omnibus energy bill.
DeLay was rebuked
in October of last year by the Republican-controlled
House ethics committee for creating an appearance of
favoritism surrounding the Jun. 2, 2002 golf outing.
Among the shower's guests was Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist
found to have paid for at least two DeLay trips that
were fronted through a conservative nonprofit. The trips,
taken in violated of House rules, ran a tab of more
“Some of the lobbyists who attended the shower
include Jack Abramoff and Tony Rudy of the lobbying
firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP,” Roll Call noted.
Told of the event, one veteran Democratic aide was
floored. “It’s fairly common for corporations
to hold receptions in honor of someone, but I’ve
never heard of anybody having a baby shower,”
the aide said. “Clearly this shows there was a
close relationship and Tom DeLay’s efforts to
distance himself from Jack Abramoff [are misleading].”
At the time, DeLay's office blasted those who questioned
"Dani's girlfriend had a baby shower for her and
paid for the Costco finger food out of her own pocket,"
a DeLay spokesman told the Hill paper. "She invited
Dani's friends to celebrate one of the happiest times
in life, the birth of a child."
"Tom DeLay understands that his activities are
going to be parsed with a great deal of attention,"
the spokesman added, "but extending this level
of intrusiveness to his daughter's baby shower—thrown
by and paid for by one of her girlfriends—is cheap."
Ferro is now under investigation by a Texas grand jury
examining the fund-raising activities of Texans for
a Republican Majority, a Texas state political action
committee that was modeled on DeLay's highly effective
national PAC. Emails
obtained in the case show the Reliant appears to have
been solicited by DeLay.
reported, “In early June 2002, DeLay held
a two-day golf tournament at the Homestead resort in
Hot Springs, Virginia. The cost of attending the event
was a corporate contribution of $25,000 to $50,000.
Five energy companies were invited by Maloney to attend:
El Paso Corp., Mirant, Reliant Energy, Westar Energy,
and Williams Companies… The golfing took place
just before a House-Senate conference on an omnibus
Reliant Energy's director of communications would not
comment on the baby shower at the time, but admitted
the company allowed the use of its conference room for
"Reliant gave $65,000 in soft money to DeLay's
leadership PAC, Americans for a Republican Majority,
in 2000 and 2001," Roll Call noted. "Through
its own PAC, Reliant has donated $37,000 in hard money
to DeLay's re-election campaigns since 1996, and another
$6,348 to ARMPAC."
Reliant has run afoul of regulations on several occasions.
In 2003, the Houston firm admitted to having violated
securities laws to inflate profits by 10 percent; in
the same year, they also paid $25 million to Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission to settle charges of manipulating
California’s energy markets; in 2002, Reliant
paid $10.5 million to settle charges of manipulating
Texas’ energy markets.
Energy company manipulation of the California energy
market allowed the firms to overcharge California consumers
by more than $20 billion between 2000 and 2001. Among
the largest offender was Texas-based Enron, also a top
donor solicited by DeLay. According to the Washington
Post, DeLay requested $100,000 from Enron be channeled
to the Texas political action committee abetting a Texas
Reliant gave $2,000 to DeLay’s campaign committee
in the last election cycle.
DeLay and Ferro could not immediately be reached for
Article originally published Apr. 6, 2005.