“That’s happened with increasing frequency at the FEC lately. Election-law experts, supporters of campaign-finance regulations, and even some members of the commission itself are expressing growing concern about a string of cases in which the three Republicans on the commission — led by Tom DeLay’s former ethics lawyer — have voted as a block against enforcement, preventing the commission from carrying out its basic regulatory function.” Pete Martin and Zachary Roth of TPM Muckraker delve into how Republicans antithetical to campaign finance reform have effectively sabotaged the FEC. “The FEC, he said, has been made ‘ineffective’ — and not by accident. ‘This is what McConnell had in mind.’“
“Of course, the one person who could do the most to get the commission back on track is President Obama…Most experts believe that the White House supports stronger campaign-finance laws as a goal, but, with a host of other issues on its plate, is reluctant to pick a fight with the GOP Senate leader. ‘They’re picking their priorities, and they don’t want to take on Mitch McConnell right now,’ said Hasen. ‘I consider that unfortunate.‘” Anyone else sensing a pattern?
“If government is necessary, bad government, at least for conservatives, is inevitable, and conservatives have been exceptionally good at showing just how bad it can be. Hence the truth revealed by the Bush years: Bad government–indeed, bloated, inefficient, corrupt, and unfair government–is the only kind of conservative government there is. Conservatives cannot govern well for the same reason that vegetarians cannot prepare a world-class boeuf bourguignon: If you believe that what you are called upon to do is wrong, you are not likely to do it very well.” Perhaps overplaying the Hartzian “America is liberal and liberal only” card just a bit, Boston College professor Alan Wolfe argues convincingly why conservatives can’t govern, and explains how, despite the emerging right-wing consensus to the contrary, Dubya’s many failures and Boss DeLay’s corruption aren’t a betrayal of conservative thinking, but a culmination of it. (By way of Blivet.)
“Every redistricting is a partisan political exercise, but this is going to put it at a level we have never seen…That’s the gift that the Supreme Court and Tom DeLay have given us.” In other news, the Court votes 5-4 that DeLay’s Texas redistricting plan needs to be tweaked — namely, that one district needs to be redrawn to accommodate the Voting Rights Act — but is otherwise legal and constitutional. “[W]ith six justices producing 123 pages of opinions, without any five of them able to agree on how to define an unconstitutional gerrymander, politicians of both parties said that the ruling leaves the door wide open to attempts to copy the DeLay strategy in other states.”
“‘It clearly shows some members live in a dream world of high-class living and fictional accounting. DeLay’s office was part of the public deception. It makes you wonder if there are more filings as fictional as this one is turning out to be,’ said Kent Cooper, the former chief of public disclosure for the Federal Election Commission.” Prosecutors disclose an e-mail trail indicating that Boss DeLay’s office knowingly filed false reports about Abramoff-paid boondoggles and were “concerned ‘if someone starts asking questions.’“
“‘Any rational person in [DeLay’s] position would be very concerned,’ said Kendall Coffey, a former federal prosecutor who is now a prominent defense lawyer in Miami. ‘Whether it’s working up the ladder at Enron or a drug organization, it’s classic strategy to work up by getting plea agreements and cooperation at each level.‘” As the GOP preps for a DeLay-less future, it seems that, for Boss DeLay — despite having theoretically left “on his own terms” — the legal woes are just beginning.
“In the three Republican primaries that DeLay has faced since he was first elected in 1984, he has never received less than 80 percent of the vote, until now. Over the past four years, the percentage of Republicans who have had enough of the Hammer has doubled.” With perhaps a dollop of wishful thinking, Salon‘s Joe Conason parses the results of Boss DeLay’s recent primary win.
With three opponents all bucking to take him into a runoff situation, Boss DeLay faces a tougher GOP primary than usual in his home district this Tuesday. (In a January poll, 68% of primary voters remained undecided.) And, even if he emerges from the primary dust-up relatively unscathed, DeLay will then face a credible and well-financed Democratic opponent in former Rep. Nick Lampson, who, in the same poll, led the Hammer by eight points. “It will not help DeLay that his district is more Democratic, ironically by his own making…Always a strong candidate in his own races, DeLay surrendered GOP voters in the realignment to bolster some other Republican districts. Now, after contending with indictment and departure from the House leadership, he could be facing the loss of the very seat he used to rise to power.” Update: Or not. Boss DeLay coasts to victory over his three primary challengers with 62% of the vote.
The Bush administration loves it, but many Justice Dept. officials think it’s illegal…Now, it’s the Supreme Court’s turn to weigh in on Boss DeLay’s gerrymandering plan in Texas. “Two years ago, justices split 5-4, in a narrow opening for challenges claiming party politics overly influenced election maps. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy was the key swing voter in that case, and on Wednesday expressed concerns about at least part of the Texas map.” (Rehnquist and O’Connor sided against the map challenge then, so a switch by Roberts or Alito will only mean a larger majority against the DeLay redistricting, should the same votes hold.) Update: Justice Ginsburg finds the subject exhausting, and Dahlia Lithwick reports in.
“‘This audit was political retaliation by Tom DeLay’s cronies to intimidate us for blowing the whistle on DeLay’s abuses,’ McDonald said. ‘Enlisting the IRS to intimidate critics is a dirty trick reminiscent of Richard Nixon…It is not a crime to report a crime, as we did with DeLay.’” Texans for Public Justice, a non-profit organization critical of the DeLay ring’s hold over their home state, has been cleared of any wrongdoing in an IRS audit — one seemingly triggered, it was discovered after a FOIA request, by Boss DeLay’s minions. “The [instigating] lawmaker, House Ways and Means Committee member Sam Johnson (R-Tex.), was in turn responding to a complaint about the group…from Barnaby W. Zall, a Washington lawyer close to DeLay and his fundraising apparatus, according to IRS documents.“