DeLay allies draw up plan to hit backLet's be perfectly clear: this article was posted on Cantor's own campaign website. Posting this article on his website was a clear and distinct signal that Cantor endorsed DeLay even though he had more than enough information available to him to recognize DeLay's serious ethics problems. The real purpose of this meeting, it is now clear, was to try and give some cover to DeLay amid calls for him to step down from his leadership post.
From The Hill:
By Alexander Bolton
Conservative leaders are crafting plans to launch a public campaign to defend House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas).
The move follows a meeting last week among DeLay, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the chief deputy majority whip, and nearly two dozen conservative leaders, including David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; Morton Blackwell, president of the Leadership Institute; and Edwin Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation.
Perkins, Keene and Feulner called the meeting, according to participants.
"It was a rallying cry to our conservative community that we are under assault. We need to fight back. We're going to have a challenging year with the judicial issue bubbling up in the senate and the impact it may have on our ability to get things done," said Cantor, who said he described to the group how Democrats and liberal groups have waged a coordinated battle to raise doubts about DeLay's conduct.
Several of the conservative leaders who met last week are planning to launch a grassroots campaign targeted at conservatives in the districts of House Republican lawmakers whose support for DeLay may be wavering.
"The various organizations probably represent 3 or 4 million people," Keene said of the conservative groups in the meeting. "We're communicating with them to ask them to support DeLay and point out what is going on here."
What is going on, conservatives say, is a coordinated effort by liberals and Democrats to tarnish DeLay's name to oust him as majority leader and regain control of the House. Keene and others want conservative groups to communicate that to their members and to have their members relay the message to GOP lawmakers who represent them.
"This is not about Democrats; it's about Republicans," Keene said.
After several participants at the meeting said they would help, DeLay said he hoped the others would, too, according to one person there who spoke anonymously to avoid angering his fellow conservatives.
DeLay reportedly added that it would be "really nice if some calls would originate from you guys into members' districts letting them know" why they should tell their representatives to support him.
Keene and Paul Weyrich, chairman of the Free Congress Foundation, said DeLay merely expressed his gratitude, and they denied that he asked for favors.
DeLay also explained his relationship with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, which has been the focus of critical press coverage.
Weyrich said, "He just said that he was overwhelmed by the response and he thanked everybody and there were basically no requests by him.
"He mentioned that when he found out that Abramoff was dealing with a casino or whatever, it was then that he called in Abramoff and said, 'Our relationship is finished. I can't have anything to do with you because I'm adamantly opposed to gambling and I had no idea you were involved in this.'
"Shortly afterward Abramoff got rid of the casino."
Abramoff and partner Mike Scanlon, a former DeLay aide, aide received more than $25 million to represent the Louisiana Coushatta and the Mississippi Choctaw Indian tribes, which run lucrative gambling operations. Abramoff also lobbied for eLottery, a gambling services company. He was an investor in SunCruz, a Florida casino cruise line.
Most of the conservative leaders at last week's meeting who spoke to The Hill said support for DeLay at the meeting appeared to be unanimous. But one who requested anonymity said his group would likely not participate in defending DeLay, and he raised questions about the propriety of tax-exempt groups' waging a political campaign on behalf of a lawmaker.
Representative Eric Cantor made a conscious decision to serve and defend Tom DeLay, and he continued his efforts to defend DeLay long after it was obvious that DeLay was unworthy of his leadership post or his seat in the House. How obvious was it? Cantor could have asked his wife Diana.
Cantor is married to Diana F. Cantor, a member of the board of directors of publicly traded Media General Inc., parent company of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. On April 13, 2005, the Richmond Times-Dispatch editors printed an editorial entitled "DeLay Must Go." In the editorial, the RTD's editors opined:
Nevertheless, congressional Republicans would be wise to strip DeLay of his leadership position. Stories about ethical questions have become a drumbeat; the latest involve payments to DeLay's wife and daughter by his political and campaign committees, and a six-day junket to Moscow funded by lobbyists.Is it possible that Mrs. Cantor failed to mention this over dinner? Possibly. Maybe Eric Cantor doesn't read the Richmond Times-Dispatch, though that seems a little odd considering that Cantor is frequently featured in the paper as guest op/ed writer. If he does read the RTD, then he knows that RTD columnist A. Barton Hinkle has called DeLay a man who lacks "both principles and honor."
Cantor was given countless opportunities to accept the obvious truth about Tom DeLay and distance himself. He instead chose to defend his "Boss" at every turn. Virginians should judge Cantor by the company he kept.