- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 10, 2005

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A Republican House member yesterday demanded the resignation of Majority Leader Tom DeLay, while the third-ranking Senate Republican called on the Texan to offer a public explanation in the string of ethics charges made against him in the past year.

“Tom’s conduct is hurting the Republican Party, is hurting this Republican majority, and it is hurting any Republican who is up for re-election,” Rep. Christopher Shays, Connecticut Republican, told the Associated Press in an interview, calling for Mr. DeLay to step down as majority leader.

Mr. DeLay, who was admonished by the House ethics committee last year, has been dogged in recent months by new reports about his overseas travel being funded by special interests, campaign payments to family members, and connections to a lobbyist who is under criminal investigation.

A liberal Republican who has battled with his party’s leadership on a number of issues, Mr. Shays said efforts by the House Republicans to change ethics rules only make the party look bad.

“My party is going to have to decide whether we are going to continue to make excuses for Tom to the detriment of Republicans seeking election,” Mr. Shays said.

Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, said yesterday that Mr. DeLay needs to explain his conduct to the public.

“I think he has to come forward and lay out what he did and why he did it, and let the people then judge for themselves,” Mr. Santorum told ABC’s “This Week.”

“But from everything I’ve heard, again, from the comments and responding to those, is everything he’s done was according to the law.

“Now you may not like some of the things he’s done,” said Mr. Santorum, who is up for re-election next year. “That’s for the people of his district to decide, whether they want to approve that kind of behavior or not.”

DeLay spokesman Dan Allen, told the AP that the congressman “looks forward to the opportunity of sitting down with the ethics committee chairman and ranking member to get the facts out and to dispel the fiction and innuendo that’s being launched at him by House Democrats and their liberal allies.”

The majority leader was admonished three times last year by that committee. The committee has been in limbo since March, when its five Democrats balked at adopting Republican-developed rules.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said last week that the controversy was distracting Mr. DeLay from dealing with more pressing problems before Congress.

Mr. Santorum, however, said Mr. DeLay is “very effective in leading the House” and “to date, has not been compromised.”

A senior Democratic senator, Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, had this advice for the Republicans who control both the House and Senate: “Be careful about how closely you embrace Mr. DeLay.”

Mr. DeLay “becomes the poster child for a lot of the things the Democrats think are wrong about Republican leadership,” Mr. Dodd said on ABC. “As long as he’s there, he’s going to become a pretty good target.”

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