Thursday, November 18, 2004
( 11:35 AM )
Getting Down To Business
The new session of Congress isn't even in yet, but the first task of Republicans was to lower the standards yet again on ethics and morality in their ranks. Yesterday they voted to lift the rule they'd previously pushed for that denies a House leader his leadership position if he's indicted for a crime. Why? So that Tom DeLay could stay in charge once he's indicted for all the crimes he's committed relating to his PAC and the illegal redistricting in Texas.
There were a few Republicans willing to stand up to the DeLay machine. Talking Points Memo notes their small numbers and wonders how far this new rule can go:
Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut seems to be the only Republican who says he didn't support the move when it was put to a voice vote today. And he says he was one of only a "handful" of Republican House members who also spoke out against the change in today's closed door meeting.
Here's my question. And it's a genuine question since I don't know the answer. Does the Republican caucus currently have a rule which would force DeLay to relinquish his post after conviction if he remains free on appeal?
The earlier rule would have made such a rule superfluous since any leadership office had to be surrendered on indictment. But with that changed, is there such a rule? And if not, does the GOP caucus plan on imposing one?
And in the interest of completeness, is there any stage in the criminal justice process when a GOP caucus member in a leadership office has to resign his post? If the judge sentences DeLay to wearing one of those radio beacon collars around his ankle so that he doesn't leave the vicinity of the Capitol, could he continue as leader then too? Or would that be too much?
No one ever said the Republican leadership of this country was bound by ethical norms...