From the AP:
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay treated his political donors to a bird's-eye view of a Three Tenors concert from an arena skybox leased by a lobbyist now under criminal investigation.Will Hastert step up and rebuke DeLay for failing to disclose or reimburse for the skybox gift?
DeLay's political action committee did not reimburse lobbyist Jack Abramoff for the May 2000 use of the skybox, instead treating it as a type of donation that didn't have to be disclosed to election regulators at the time.
The skybox donation, valued at thousands of dollars, came three weeks before DeLay also accepted a trip to Europe - including golf with Abramoff at the world-famous St. Andrews course - for himself, his wife and aides that was underwritten by some of the lobbyist's clients.
Two months after the concert and trip, DeLay voted against gambling legislation opposed by some of Abramoff's Indian tribe clients.
House ethics rules require lawmakers to avoid the appearance of any conflict of interest. ***
His defenders say the House leader did nothing wrong in the skybox case. Federal law at the time didn't require DeLay's committee to disclose or reimburse for the skybox gift, they note - though the law was changed to require such disclosure a few months later.
"Portraying a lack of reimbursement as news is like saying a driver of a car did not hit his brakes while driving through a green light - there is nothing newsworthy about it, let alone improper,'' said Don McGahn, one of DeLay's lawyers.
DeLay's boss, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, came to a different conclusion in recent days, reimbursing Abramoff for a political event two years after the fact. One of Hastert's political committees had used a restaurant partly owned by the lobbyist, and the Hastert committee decided recently to reimburse for the use.
Or does Hastert think such gifts are okay?
And if he thinks they are okay, why did Hastert scramble to reimburse Abramoff for using his restaurant for a fundraiser?
I hope Denny finds the time clear up these ethical questions.