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The DeLay House

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A New Sheriff in Town.

“‘If you have a single ounce of self-preservation, you’ll vote no,’ implored Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) last night.” The House creates a new independent ethics panel, 229-182. As the WP notes: “Even with two House members under indictment, two others sent to prison, and several others under federal investigation, nearly half the House did not want to submit the body to the scrutiny of a panel not under its control.” Nevertheless, ethics watchdog groups seem pleased with the bill. Said Common Cause‘s Sarah Dufendach: “For the first time in history, you have nonmembers able to initiate investigations. They’re doing oversight. They’re the new police.” (And to tie everything back to the current theme, Sen. Obama advocated an similarly independent Office of Public Integrity for the Senate in his ethics reform package. Sen. Clinton, someone with considerably more than “a single ounce of self-preservation,” voted against it.)

Saving Rick Renzi.

The GOP streams of corruption cross further…Word comes out that congressman-under-fire Rick Renzi (R-AZ), who apparently forgot to mention he received $200,000 from a business partner he helped with a land deal, was pressuring one of the fired US attorneys to tell him how the probe against him was progressing. Moreover, and even more disconcerting, it seems the Gonzales Justice Department may in fact have stalled the Renzi probe in order to help the Arizona congressman get re-elected. Wow. Just when you think you’ve heard it all…The shadiness just never ends with these people.

Thirty Months for Ney.

“‘Whether or not you’ve served your constituents well, on some level you have seriously betrayed the public’s trust and abused your power as a congressman,’ Huvelle told Ney. ‘You have a long way to go to make amends for what’s happened.'” Casino Jack flunky and former House GOP poobah Bob Ney gets thirty months in prison for his role in Abramoff’s operation. Ney, meanwhile, is still blaming it on the booze: ““I will continue to take full responsibility for my actions and battle the demons of addiction.” Um, at what point between opening the beer and it touching your lips did taking bribes enter the equation? Save that stuff for Oprah…Most people hopefully realize that Ney’s corruption had less to do with the demon rum than with standard operating procedure under Boss DeLay and the Republicans.

Ney’s Nyet-Nyet.

Federal prosecutors build out their case against Bob Ney, and disclose that the disgraced former GOP rep had possibly shady dealings with Abramoff and DeLay’s Russian connections at Naftasib. “Abramoff’s lobbying team got the congressman to intervene with the U.S. Consulate in Moscow to help resolve a passport issue for the daughter of Abramoff client Alexander Koulakovsky, the e-mails show…A charity sponsored by DeLay received a $1 million check from a London law firm linked to the two. Former charity officials told The Washington Post last year the donation originated with Russian oil and gas executives, and was intended to influence DeLay’s vote on an issue affecting the Russian economy.

Out with the Old…

Good riddance to the do-nothing 109th Congress, which wheedled its way into the history books last weekend. (And sayonara also to Donald Rumsfeld, who closed up shop yesterday.) A word of warning to the Dubya White House: Don’t expect the 110th to play as nice

Let’s Go to Prison.

The wreckage of the midterms behind him, disgraced GOP operative Jack Abramoff heads to prison today to begin a 5-year, 10-month stint in the Big House…but, not — according to ABC News — before dropping dirt on Karl Rove and “dozens of members of Congress and staff” including “six to eight seriously corrupt Democratic senators.” Sounds like the Ballad of Casino Jack might keep on keepin’ on right through the next cycle…Let’s hope the Dem Congress are much more vigilant about rooting out the corruption in their midst than were their predecessors.

With friends like these…

“‘They did this to protect themselves, but they couldn’t protect us?’ another Republican aide said yesterday.” According to Patrick O’Connor of The Hill, many GOP officials are absolutely livid about the timing of the Rumsfeld resignation. “For them to toss Rumsfeld one day after the election was a slap in the face to everyone who worked hard to protect the majority.” Meanwhile, the rest of us have to figure out how to trust this president when even he admits he openly lied to everyone about Rumsfeld’s fate (not that he was garnering a lot of confidence these days anyway.)

The Chickens Come Home to Roost.

Remember when Boehner and the GOP banked on their widespread corruption not playing on Election Day? Well, they chose poorly. Among the many seats lost by the GOP last night were those of Abramoff flunkies Conrad Burns, Richard Pombo, and Bob Ney, notorious friend-of-pages Mark Foley, the recently-FBI-implicated Curt Weldon, mistress-beater Don Sherwood, and the fatcat architect of it all, Boss DeLay. (Surviving the corruption purge: the Foley-connected Tom Reynolds, Duke Cunningham‘s replacement, Brian Bilbray, and — though a runoff hopefully won’t shake his waycorrupt Dem William Jefferson.)

Den Down.

And another GOP scalp (chalk this one up to Foleygate): Dennis Hastert — who’s inexplicably the longest-serving Republican Speaker in US history (Joe Cannon is 2nd) — is leaving the Republican congressional leadership. Current contenders for his position include former Majority Leader John Boehner, Mike Pence, Eric Cantor, and Joe Barton.

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