Democrats have released a series of new political ads highlighting a new issue that Democrats see as a winner — accusing House Republicans of ethical lapses.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Campaign for America’s Future are running print and radio ads accusing several Republicans — including Majority Leader Tom DeLay — of running afoul of House ethics rules regarding travel paid for by outside organizations, as well as other charges.
The new ads come as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, filed with the House clerk three new corrections on her own travel disclosure forms.
A target of the newspaper ads placed by the DCCC is Mr. DeLay of Texas, who is accused of accepting travel paid for by casino lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Those newspaper ads target five other Republicans across the country including Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, whose California home and the boat in which he lives while in Washington were raided by federal agents this month. The raid was part of a criminal investigation into his relationship with a defense contractor.
A radio ad produced by the liberal Campaign for America’s Future, meanwhile, is running in the Ohio district of Rep. Bob Ney, a Republican who also has ties to Mr. Abramoff.
“Texas casinos, Florida cruise ships and Washington lobbyists,” says the 60-second ad, which urges people to call Mr. Ney. “What about Ohio families? Too many of us are looking for good-paying jobs, stuck with skyrocketing health care bills and rising prices at the gas pump.”
Mr. Ney and Mr. DeLay both have said they have done nothing wrong and welcome the opportunity to clear their names publicly and officially.
The House ethics committee, which could clear or punish House members, has had difficulty organizing itself because of partisan disputes over rules, membership and staffing.
The ads are part of a larger effort by Democrats to portray the entire Republican majority in the House as corrupt — a tactic similar to the one of the strategies used by Republicans in the historic 1994 takeover of Congress.
“Too many Republicans in Washington, D.C., have fought for too long for their special-interests contributors and their ethically challenged Republican leadership over the hard-working middle-class families they were elected to represent,” DCCC executive director John Lapp said. “As Americans decide what kind of representation they want in Washington, D.C., the ethical misconduct and the misplaced priorities of the Republican leadership is becoming an issue.”
But top Democrats are taking some fire of their own. Mrs. Pelosi filed three delinquent disclosure forms for three trips she took more than five years ago.
A December 1999 trip she took to Taipei, Taiwan, cost $8,040 and was paid for by the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce.
She also filed delinquent reports for a February 1998 trip to New York to appear on “Meet the Press” and a November 1999 trip to deliver a speech in Florida. NBC paid the $200 cost of the New York journey, according to the report, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee picked up the $340 tab for the Florida trip.