- The Washington Times - Monday, October 3, 2005

Rep. Tom DeLay says he has provided documents to prosecutor Ronnie Earle proving he did not hatch a criminal conspiracy, but admits he is “guilty” of “conspiring to defeat Democrats.”

Mr. DeLay said that on the day he is accused of initiating a criminal conspiracy to break Texas campaign-finance law along with Jim Ellis and John Colyandro, he was neither in Austin, nor in phone contact with the two men.

“We proved to him over and over again, I was nowhere near Jim Ellis and [John] Colyandro. My call records prove I didn’t talk to them,” the Texas Republican said yesterday on “Fox News Sunday.”

Mr. Ellis and Mr. Colyandro ran the day-to-day operations of the Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee, which was founded by Mr. DeLay. Mr. DeLay said the PAC had lawyers examine everything the committee did, and that there was never any intent to violate the law.

“In a criminal court, you have to have the intent to commit a crime. They can’t find one here,” said Mr. DeLay, who gave up his majority leader post after an Austin grand jury indicted him last week but retains his congressional seat.

Mr. DeLay has charged that Democrats are pursuing him in court because they have not been able to defeat him in elections and have not been able to beat conservative legislation in the House, adding that his indictment will embolden Republicans to move their agenda, not derail it as some critics have suggested.

“The way you counter this politics of personal destruction is you go and you’re aggressive and you move fast and do something about the gas prices. We’re doing that next week,” he said.

Rep. John Shadegg, Arizona Republican, agreed and says that Republicans must now demonstrate they can legislate the party’s agenda.

“We got elected on an agenda of limited government, individual responsibility, a free-market economy, and a strong national defense. We need to demonstrate right now that that’s what we’re about, and we can get it done,” Mr. Shadegg said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Rep. David Dreier, California Republican and Rules Committee chairman, said on CBS the charges against Mr. DeLay are “very, very thin.”

“Frankly, there is really no plan that has come forward from Democrats on any issue whatsoever. And they made a determination early on, that they were going to attack Republicans on the issue of ethics,” Mr. Dreier said.

Mr. DeLay reiterated his claim that the series of Democrat legal strategies, including a 2000 Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee lawsuit that used an anti-Mafia law to accuse him of running a corrupt organization, is mere payback for his success as a party-builder.

“It is so frivolous. I mean, a racketeering suit? And do you know what they put in the suit? That I was conspiring to defeat Democrats. Guilty. I’m guilty of that, but that’s not illegal,” he told Fox.

Not all Republicans were as supportive of Mr. DeLay. Rep. Christopher Shays, Connecticut Republican, said “no” when asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer whether he felt “comfortable” with Mr. DeLay as his leader.

Mr. Shays acknowledged on “Late Edition” that prosecutors can persuade grand juries to “indict a tomato,” but Mr. DeLay’s dealings have come close to the political edge, he said.

“Tom’s problem isn’t just this, it’s continual acts that border and go sometimes beyond the ethical edge. They may not be illegal, but he’s always pushing that ethical edge to the limit,” Mr. Shays said.

But Mr. DeLay says the Democrats “have so overreached” in reacting to his indictment that Republicans will make huge gains with voters’ support in next November’s elections.

“They will be so upset with the Democrats, you might see the biggest Republican election in a very long time in 2006,” he said.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Democrat and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairman, yesterday denied charges by Mr. DeLay that his committee worked with the prosecutor’s office to orchestrate the indictment.

“Absolutely not. I had none,” Mr. Emanuel said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program when he was asked by host Tim Russert whether he had any contact with Mr. Earle.

Mr. Emanuel also said that it is his party that is poised for big gains in the next election.

“The American people have rejected the same policies that are giving us the same results and the status quo,” he said. “They want change. They want big ideas, big reform. This is going to be a big election, a national election because of the challenges this country faces.”

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