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DNC Chair Dean blasts back at DeLay on ethics

RAW STORY
Published: Sunday May 7, 2006

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After Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) claimed that 22 Democratic lawmakers had "ethics problems" on a Sunday morning talk show, DNC chairman Howard Dean fired back at the Congressman indicted on money laundering charges, RAW STORY has found.

"Look, I'm not going to get into an argument with a guy who is on his way out of Congress," Dean told George Stephanopoulos.

(Crooks and Liars has a video clip of Dean's appearance: link)

Earlier on the show, DeLay claimed that 'every leader' in the Democratic Party had 'ethics problems,' including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (link).

After Stephanopoulos quoted from an email sent by Republican Chair Ken Mehlman warning that the Democrats were planning to impeach President Bush if they win in November, Dean responded that, aside from investigating the "culture of corruption," that that wasn't true.

"They just make that stuff up over there, I think, at the RNC," Dean said about such reports.

"We've got some big things on our plate and we're going to need to deal with those before anybody starts talking about impeachment," Dean said.

According to Dean, there is a huge difference between the two parties when it comes to ethics.

"Here's the difference, the Republicans have done this, the White House, the chief procurement officer arrested; the deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, suspected of leaking intelligence, which the president said he would fire him for and then, of course, didn't. In the vice president's office, the chief of staff under indictment," Dean said.

Dean said that the "culture of corruption" has traveled as high as the White House and the office of the vice president.

"We know there has always been some level of people doing the wrong thing in both parties, but there is a culture that goes from the White House to the vice president's office, to the leadership of the United States Senate, to the leadership of the United States House of Representatives and in the agencies, corruption has become a way of live and it has to change," Dean added.

Dean also told Stephanopoulos that if Rep. Jefferson is indicted then he should resign, as he argued about Rep. DeLay.

"Unlike the Republicans, our leader, Nancy Pelosi, particularly asked investigators for an ethics investigation of Congressman Jefferson," Dean said.

Excerpts from the interview with Dean on Sunday's This Week with George Stephanopoulos:

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MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's get the response from Governor Dean, who we'll bring in right now. Governor Dean, you heard that right there. He calls it not a culture of corruption, but "a culture of hypocrisy by Democrats."

MR. DEAN: Well, you know, there was one name he left off the list and that was his own. As you saw in this morning's paper, we now have emails from Tom Delay's office showing that in fact he did know who was paying for the $76,000 golf trip. Look, I'm not going to get into an argument with a guy who is on his way out of Congress. The fact is we want real change in this country. We're going to balance the budget. We're going to have American jobs that stay in America. And we're going to have honesty and openness in government again. And I think those are pretty important. And then we're going to -- the next thing we're going to do after that is make sure that everybody has health care in this country. If they can do that in 36 countries around the world, we can do that here in the United States of America.

And I do want to say one other thing. I was disturbed by your first guests. I think it's time to stop beating up on the professionals of the CIA. The fact is they did their job. They gave the intelligence to the White House. The White House didn't want to use the intelligence. The intelligence failures that got us into Iraq were not, by and large, in the CIA. They were in the White House. They wouldn't listen to what they were being told by the CIA and that is something that did not come out in those interviews.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, governor, you certainly have packed a lot into that first answer. Let me go back to where we started there. On this issue of the culture of corruption, I want to show our viewers two members of Congress right now, William Jefferson, as Congressman Delay pointed out, a businessman, has pleaded guilty to offering his family $400,000 for legislative favors. A former staffer of his has plead guilty, as well. Congressman Mollihan forced to leave the Ethics Committee because of questions of whether he was steering contracts improperly or voting for contracts improperly towards friends and business associates of his. Are you concerned that his is now a bipartisan culture of corruption?

MR. DEAN: There are individual congressman who that have made mistakes. Unlike the Republicans, our leader, Nancy Pelosi, particularly asked investigators for an ethics investigation of Congressman Jefferson. Here's the difference, the Republicans have done this, the White House, the chief procurement officer arrested; the deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, suspected of leaking intelligence, which the president said he would fire him for and then, of course, didn't. In the vice president's office, the chief of staff under indictment. The Republican leader of the United States Senate under investigation for insider trading. Mr. Delay, leaving Congress under indictment. He successor, John Boehner, kills ethics legislation. This is a culture of corruption that the Republicans have brought to Washington. We know there has always been some level of people doing the wrong thing in both parties, but there is a culture that goes from the White House to the vice president's office, to the leadership of the United States Senate, to the leadership of the United States House of Representatives and in the agencies, corruption has become a way of live and it has to change. We have to pass real ethics legislation, not the nonsense that was passed last week in the House of Representatives.

We promise you that within a hundred days we will vote on real ethics legislation. It will pass and there will be no more free trips. There will be no more free lunches. And there will be no more sticking things in big appropriations bills that give oil companies and HMOs billions and billions of dollars of tax payers money in the middle of the night.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Even before Tom Delay was indicted, you said that he should leave the Congress. If Congressman Jefferson is indicted, as many expect, do you believe he should resign his seat?

MR. DEAN: Yes.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: No question.

MR. DEAN: Yeah.

....

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: How about the question raised by Congressman Delay? He raised the specter of impeachment, said that Congressman Conyers is already looking into that prospect and I want to show you an email that your counterpart, Republican Chair Ken Mehlman is putting out. He says, "The Democrats' plan for 2006 -- take the House and Senate and impeach the president. With our nation at war, is this the kind of Congress you want? Is Ken Mehlman right or is impeachment off the table?

MR. DEAN: They just make that stuff up over there, I think, at the RNC. The truth is we got some big problems in this country. We've got a major health problem. We're losing jobs. The economy's in good shape if you look at corporate earnings, but for 80 percent of the American people, they're struggling. We're in a war that the president says he wants to pass on to the next president to fix. This is ridiculous what's going on in Washington. I'm sure there are going to be investigations because we're going to stop the culture of corruption. We've got some big things on our plate and we're going to need to deal with those before anybody starts talking about impeachment.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you worried if they keep on talking about this and if Americans believe that impeachment is on the table, that --

MR. DEAN: You know, I think, George, that the day has come and gone long before anybody's going to believe anything the Republican Party says about anything. This president has misled the nation, not just about political stuff. Medicare Part D rammed through in the middle of the night, totally, and by the way, Tom Delay has mentioned that we were trying to dissuade our people from signing up for Medicare. That is just outrageous. My mother is 77 years old. She needs that program. I'm not going to talk her out of signing up for it. It's better than nothing, it's just a mess. And it's really badly run. It's costing the tax payers millions and millions and millions of dollars. So we have a real agenda that we need to deal with. The Republicans are not credible anymore as a governmental force. We need to come forward with our positive agenda. I think speaker-to-be Pelosi just laid it out pretty well.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: So you stand by your earlier prediction Democrats are going to take control of the House and the Senate?

MR. DEAN: I believe -- look, I don't predict stuff like that, but we have a very good chance of taking the House back and I think if we take the House back, we've got a decent chance at the Senate, as well. We want real change in this country and that's the central election issue. You want more of the same? Or do you want real change? Because the Democrats are ready to lead again.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Dean, thank you very much.

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