As examples of Democratic "vulnerabilities," Sweet cites the fact the treasurer of Rep. Rahm Emanuel's congressional campaign fund is a Chicago-based lawyer who lobbies Congress and that Emanuel returned a $5,000 donation from the much probed Hispanic Democratic Organization.
But any doubts about Rahm's campaign funding pale in comparison to -- dare I say it? -- the Republican culture of corruption and cronyism.
DeLay's ethical problems don't arise solely from his cozy ties to hyper-lobbyist Jack Abramoff or the sources of his suspicious campaign donations. The sad truth is that all Washington politics is funded by big donors. As Sweet noted in her column, "the top fund-raisers for almost 80 members of Congress -- Democrats and Republicans -- were corporate lobbyists for lawmakers they are trying to influence."
No, what distinguishes the GOP's malfeasance, as embodied in DeLay, from business as usual in Washington is their insatiable and overwhelming hunger for absolute political power. Their compulsion to centralize power in the hands of the extreme right wing of the Republican Party and rig the system to ensure that they never lose control.
This scheme is underwritten by corporate lobbyists who pay Republican leaders to suppress the free market and limit legitimate competition. For their money, the GOP leadership permits them to create virtual cartels to control prices. As a bonus, government oversight of the GOP's corporate partners is reduced to a minimum.
And even when caught red-handed, there are few if any consequences. Remember Ken Lay? The CEO and chairman of Enron? The Arthur Anderson accounting firm was burned to the ground for its role in the Enron accounting scandal. But George Bush's buddy Kenny-Boy has still not been brought to justice.
And the GOP's self serving symbiotic relationship with its corporate lobbyists is becoming self-evident. From the Washington Post:
Former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) met for at least 30 minutes with the top fundraiser of his Texas political action committee on Oct. 2, 2002, the same day that the Republican National Committee in Washington set in motion a series of financial transactions at the heart of the money-laundering and conspiracy case against DeLay.Lynn Sweet is one of the best, but I doubt there is any real danger in Democrats leaders focusing their rhetoric on the GOP culture of corruption and cronyism.
During the meeting at his Capitol office, DeLay conferred with James W. Ellis, the head of his principal fundraising committee in Washington and his chief fundraiser in Texas. Ellis had earlier given the Republican National Committee a check for $190,000 drawn mostly from corporate contributions. The same day as the meeting, the RNC ordered $190,000 worth of checks sent to seven Republican legislative candidates in Texas.
Although there is a chance that some contributors to the Dems will turn out to be suspicious characters, no amount of digging will ever unearth the anything like the unprecedented quid pro quo between the D.C. Republicans and their corporate cronies.