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Disclaimer: The author of this site maintained the campaign weblog of John Kline's opponent in the 2006 election, which made Congressman Kline a bit testy.

As with all blogs, review the facts carefully and draw your own conclusions.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Kline Calls for DeLay's Ouster, But Keeps DeLay's Money

John Kline's name has been in the news a lot recently, first calling for Tom DeLay to permanently remove himself as House majority leader, then publicly declaring his support for Ohio congressman John Boehner to be his replacement. The most complete statement I've been able to find that John Kline has made about DeLay is the following:

The situation is that Tom's legal situation doesn't seem to be reaching clarity. There are stories of more indictments or questions associated with Jack Abramoff. And I think that Tom DeLay is going to have to concentrate on that.


We've been in this tenuous uncertain situation now since last year, and the end date for that remains unclear. And that's a very tough way to go forward and do business and set an agenda and enact serious legislation. You need people who are confident that they're going to be in that position through the Congress to do that job. And right now, we don't have that. We just have this uncertainty about when Tom Delay would return to that leadership position.

Let's focus on that word 'clarity'. What exactly about Tom DeLay's legal situation is unclear to Kline?

There's certainly no ambiguity about DeLay's guilt. He hasn't yet been convicted, and he may yet weasel out of it, but it couldn't be clearer that he's guilty of money-laundering; he admitted as much two months ago:

At that session, DeLay acknowledged that in 2002 he was informed about and expressed his support for transfers of $190,000 in mostly corporate funds from his Texas political action committee to an arm of the Republican National Committee in Washington and then back to Texas, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition that they not be named.

Those transfers are at the heart of the prosecutor's investigation of the alleged use of corporate funds in the 2002 Texas elections, in violation of state law. In the prosecutor's view, DeLay's admission put him in the middle of a conspiracy not only to violate that law but also to launder money.

That's pretty clear, isn't it? What's more, DeLay made this admission in negotiations with Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle when DeLay was contemplating a plea-bargain, in which he would plead guilty to a misdemeanor.

DeLay was planning to plead guilty. You wouldn't expect that from a man who has "always acted in an ethical manner within the rules of our body and the laws of our land" as DeLay claims he has done. You also wouldn't expect that DeLay would knuckle under to an "unabashed partisan zealot", which is how DeLay describes the Democrat Earle, maintaining that Earle is simply engaging in a partisan witch hunt.

Funny thing about that. Yesterday, Texas' Court of Criminal Appeals refused to throw out the charges against DeLay, even though every single judge on that court is a Republican. Those Republicans see right through DeLay's song and dance; they know a crook when they see one. I'm going to guess that the Republican Kline, originally from Texas himself, can see through DeLay's act, too. Yet he bemoans the lack of 'clarity' in DeLay's legal situation. What can he possibly mean by that?

Only this. Like most Republicans, Kline can ill afford to be publicly supportive of DeLay, since he is clearly guilty of money-laundering, and is likely to meet with more indictments as the Jack Abramoff story unfolds. Kline in particular has reason to be concerned, since he almost certainly voted last January to weaken House ethics rules so that DeLay could keep his leadership position, and since even now, after this public faux-repudiation of DeLay, he's holding on to $30,000 he received from DeLay's PAC.

Since Kline needs a reason to distance himself from DeLay, yet he still can't acknowledge DeLay's guilt, he's decided that the pressing need to "set an agenda and enact serious legislation" requires that the embattled Republican leader step aside. Never mind that Kline has waited a year --- half a Congressional term --- to reach this conclusion, and never mind that fourteen months ago Kline was, in the words of his chief of staff, Steve Sutton "perfectly comfortable" with letting DeLay keep his leadership position, indicted or not. By the most miraculous coincidence, two days after Jack Abramoff cops a plea with the Justice Department, Kline decides that DeLay's legal problems can't distract Congress from The People's Work for a day longer, and so signs a letter calling to elect new leadership.

No doubt Kline is hoping that voters will read his words and conclude that Kline stood up for clean, ethical government. Don't forget that this was just a PR trick on Kline's part. And don't forget that Kline still has $30,000 of DeLay's money.


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