When one of them sneezes, the other catches a cold

The indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on criminal conspiracy charges should surprise precisely no one. DeLay’s history of flouting finance laws in order to enrich Republican campaign efforts has been well-documented, and awaited only a prosecutor with the stones to charge him. What’s interesting here is that only one charge was levied against him by Ronnie Earle’s office (indictment here). TRMPAC, Blunt’s money-making machine, raised a lot of cash. You’d expect that Earle would choose to go with the case he felt was strongest, but it is possible that he has further action – other charges – waiting in the wings?


There’s a lot more to think about, particularly the political reshuffling. One might reasonably expect that with the majority leader thus discomfited, the banner of leadership would be passed to the majority whip, Missouri’s own Roy Blunt. That is precisely what did not happen; Speaker of the House Denny Hastert intends to name California’s David Dreier to the post. Josh Marshall speculates that Blunt was passed by because he’s powerful enough to actually hold onto the job should DeLay somehow survive his day in court. Roy Temple, however, has an alternative view that makes sense to anyone familiar with Blunt’s cozy, long-standing relationship to DeLay. Temple reminds us of the recent in-depth Washington Post story on Blunt’s own political machine that runs on his backdoor ties to lobbyists. Blunt’s campaign coffers have received hundreds of thousands of dollars from DeLay. Blunt, named by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Government as “one of the 13 most corrupt members of Congress,” has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from DeLay partner and heavily-investigated lobbyist Jack Abramoff, on whose behalf Blunt co-signed a letter benefiting an Abramoff client, the Louisiana Coushatta tribe, by blocking gambling competition by another tribe.

It is clear that Roy Blunt has much to fear from the intense spotlight now shining on Tom DeLay. Small wonder that he was passed over for DeLay’s post. Now we must wait to see if Blunt’s own misdealings are brought to light.

UPDATE: It looks as though we may not have to wait as long as we might have, if elevation of power brings increased scrutiny. As noted by the bone in comments, Roy Blunt has prevailed over hapless House Speaker Hastert and will serve “temporarily” as minority leader. As Roy Temple states at Fired Up!, an ethics cloud will continue to hang over the Republican party. Blunt can expect to take a lot of political fire now that he’s out in the open.

DeLay and Blunt: Joined at the wallet