- The Washington Times - Monday, April 24, 2006

Democrats are calling on congressional Republicans to return any election money they have received from Rep. Tom DeLay in an attempt to link the party in power with the former majority leader’s troubles.

“Tom DeLay’s money still pulses through the Republican Congress by the millions,” wrote John Lapp, executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), in an e-mail to supporters. He said it is time for the Republicans to “wash their hands of his influence.”

The DCCC, the campaign arm of House Democrats, is hoping to benefit from the sagging Republican approval ratings in the November midterm congressional elections.

Democrats also are trying to draw comparisons among embattled Republicans, such as Mr. DeLay, and those seeking re-election as they try to win back the House.

Mr. DeLay, a Texas Republican known for his fundraising ability, announced earlier this month that he will resign amid an ongoing ethics investigation. He was indicted by a Texas grand jury on campaign-finance violations. He maintains his innocence, but stepped aside as majority leader and will not seek re-election in the fall.

Mr. Lapp, in an e-mail to supporters, said Mr. DeLay’s political action committee (PAC) has donated $2.4 million to 233 Republican members of the House since 1994.

“That money was earned through a systematic betrayal of the American people in favor of big oil, big drug companies, and any other massive special interest you can think of,” Mr. Lapp said. “As long as Republicans hold on to that money, they’ll be beholden to those interests.”

Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, called the e-mail a “dog and pony show.”

“This is more stunning hypocrisy from the DCCC, which is on the record of receiving $29,500 from Frank Ballance, who is now in jail on a wide range of fraud and corruption charges,” Mr. Collegio said.

He was referring to former Rep. Frank Ballance, who in 2004 pleaded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering after resigning from his House seat. The North Carolina Democrat is serving a prison sentence.

Mr. DeLay’s PAC, Americans for a Republican Majority, donated more than $250,000 to more than 30 House Republicans since this session of Congress began in January 2005, according to filings compiled by Political Money Line.

Mr. Lapp said 11 Republicans have returned money they received from Mr. DeLay or have given that money to charity. The e-mail solicits supporters to petition other Republicans to follow suit.

Rep. Heather A. Wilson, New Mexico Republican, has given back two $5,000 donations Mr. DeLay’s political action committee made to her re-election campaign.

“With what’s going on with the hearings that he had in Texas, she made the decision to return the money,” said campaign spokeswoman Anne Ekern.

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