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‘The Hammer belongs in the slammer,’ watchdog reacts to DeLay decision

By Ron Brynaert
Monday, August 16, 2010 13:50 EDT
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Former GOP congressional leader/Dancing with the Stars contestant slams media for premature “dance on [his] grave”

“The Justice Department has ended its six-year criminal probe of the ties between former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and disgraced ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff without filing any criminal charges against the former congressman,” the Associated Press reports.

One of DeLay’s lawyers, Richard Cullen, said Monday the Justice Department’s Office of Public Integrity informed DeLay’s legal team early last week that it was ending the investigation.

“Six years is a long time and I’m sure he wishes it had happened years ago,” Cullen said of the conclusion of the investigation. Cullen added that “for me, the result trumps the timing.”

Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney declined to comment, which is normally the case when the department ends a criminal probe without filing charges.

In response, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Executive Director Melanie Sloan released the following statement, which was sent to RAW STORY.

It’s a sad day for America when one of the most corrupt members to ever walk the halls of Congress gets a free pass.

As we continue the work of building a Washington that is worthy of the American people, the Justice Department’s decision not to prosecute Mr. DeLay for his actions sends exactly the wrong message to current and future members.

The fact that Jack Abramoff and Bob Ney (R-OH) are the only two people who went to prison for one of the worst corruption scandals in congressional history is shocking.

“The Hammer belongs in the slammer,” Sloan adds. “Mr. DeLay still has crimes to answer for in Texas – generally not considered the best place to be a criminal defendant.”

A report at The Hill adds, “The Campaign for Fair Elections, a nonpartisan watchdog group, decried Justice’s decision to end its probe of DeLay, saying it underscores the extent to which corruption is accepted in Washington.

“The decision by the Department of Justice to drop its criminal investigation into former Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s relationship with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff is further evidence that the scandal is not what is illegal, but rather what is legally permitted each and every day in Washington, D.C.,” the group’s campaign manager David Donnelly said in a statement.

At TPM Muckraker, Ryan J. Reilly notes, “A separate state probe in Texas into an alleged scheme to funnel corporate money in the 2002 campaign remains open, Cullen said. DeLay and two other men are allegedly raised $190,000 in corporate money in Texas through a fundraising committee and sent it the Republican National Committee, which then gave the money to candidates in Texas, a state which bans corporate donations.”

DeLay would like to see that case go to trial, his lawyer Dick DeGuerin told TPMMuckraker in April.

Another article at The Hill reports, “Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) expressed happiness Monday that a federal investigation of him ended without any charges, but criticized the six-year probe as ‘weak.’”

The once-powerful Republican leader held a conference call with reporters following reports that the Justice Department ended its investigation of his ties with convicted GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

“As you can imagine, today is a very happy day for the DeLay family,” he said. “I always knew this day would come, my only hope that it would have come much sooner than the six years [it has taken].

“While I will never understand why it took so long for the Justice Department to figure out I was innocent, I am nonetheless pleased.”

“The new politics is no longer good enough to beat you on policy, they have to drown you, put you in prison, ruin your reputation, hurt your family and your finances then dance on your grave,” he said.

DeLay claimed that Abramoff “never asked me to do anything untoward and I never did anything untoward or unethical.”

 
 
 
 
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