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BLAMING THE MESSENGER
DELAY'S REACTION TO DAMAGING REPORTS ABOUT HIS ETHICS NOT DRAWING MUCH SUPPORT

Tom DeLay's anger over what he deems an attack by the left-leaning liberal media is a classic case of blaming the messenger. Moreover, the House majority leader's message isn't going over well even among some conservative allies.

DeLay is attempting to portray reporting on his questionable ethics as being an ideological attack rather than what it is -- basic journalism about his activities. The Texas Republican has much to explain.

The latest revelation involved his wife and daughter, who together have received more than $500,000 since 2001 from political action and campaign committees. Apparently, his wife, Christine, has been invaluable, according to the DeLay camp. The congressman said his daughter, Dani Ferro, has worked as his campaign manager.

Ferro is close to many of the corporate lobbyists who are among her father's largest donors. So essentially what you have here are groups that give DeLay money, which goes into the pot to enrich his family. Even if it's not illegal, it's hardly the kind of ethical behavior that Republicans used so effectively in 1994 to win a congressional majority.

Perhaps the money to his wife and daughter could be passed off as just the way Washington operates. But in tandem with recent news stories about other dubious behavior, it has added to DeLay's growing notoriety for a pattern of unethical behavior. For example, recent news stories have focused on four trips DeLay has made abroad since 1997 that apparently were paid for by foreign agents or groups linked to lobbyist and longtime friend Jack Abramoff, who is being investigated by the Senate and prosecutors in connection with dealings he's had with six Indian tribes.

In addition, three close associates of DeLay have been indicted in Texas on charges of channeling corporate money to Texas GOP interests. What's more, prosecutors have indicated that DeLay could be involved in the case.

DeLay's suggestion that he's the target of a left-wing media conspiracy rings a bit hollow today after two of his House colleagues sounded off Sunday about the majority leader. Republican Rep. Christopher Shays, a frequent critic of DeLay, said he should step down from his post.

Even more troubling for DeLay was the lukewarm reaction of Sen. Rick Santorum, one of the party's leading conservative voices. When asked about DeLay's troubles on a Sunday morning talk show, Santorum said the majority leader has to "lay out what he did and why he did it" if the questions about his relation to lobbyists is going to go away.

Meanwhile, his insistence that judges in the Terri Schiavo case would have to pay a political price for their decisions has drawn little support from party leaders. Vice President Cheney and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist were noticeably more moderate in their reaction to those decisions than DeLay. When asked about DeLay's statements about judges, President Bush, to his credit, said he believed in an independent judiciary.

DeLay, politically at least, is a troubled man. It is interesting to watch this drama play out. It's beginning to look a little like the embarrassment Democrats suffered when House Speaker Jim Wright resigned in 1989 over questionable ethics. Makes one wonder what the final outcome will be for DeLay.