Shays Says DeLay Should Step Down
5 minutes ago
By LOU KESTEN, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - Rep. Christopher Shays (news, bio, voting
record) said Sunday that fellow Republican Rep. Tom
DeLay (news, bio, voting record) should step down as
House majority leader because his continuing ethics
problems are hurting the GOP.
"Tom's conduct is hurting the Republican Party, is
hurting this Republican majority and it is hurting any
Republican who is up for re-election," Shays told The
Associated Press on Sunday.
DeLay, R-Texas, has been dogged in recent months by
reports of possible ethics violations. There have been
questions about his overseas travel, campaign payments
to family members and his connections to lobbyists who
are under investigation.
A moderate Republican from Connecticut who has battled
with his party's leadership on a number of issues,
Shays said efforts by the House GOP members to change
ethics rules to protect DeLay only make the party look
"My party is going to have to decide whether we are
going to continue to make excuses for Tom to the
detriment of Republicans seeking election," Shays
Rick Santorum, the No. 3 Republican in the Senate,
said Sunday that DeLay needs to answer questions about
"I think he has to come forward and lay out what he
did and why he did it and let the people then judge
for themselves," Santorum told ABC's "This Week." "But
from everything I've heard, again, from the comments
and responding to those, is everything he's done was
according to the law.
"Now you may not like some of the things he's done,"
said Santorum, who is up for re-election next year in
Pennsylvania. "That's for the people of his district
to decide, whether they want to approve that kind of
behavior or not."
DeLay's spokesman, Dan Allen, told The Associated
Press on Sunday that the congressman "looks forward to
the opportunity of sitting down with the ethics
committee chairman and ranking member to get the facts
out and to dispel the fiction and innuendo that's
being launched at him by House Democrats and their
The majority leader was admonished three times last
year by that committee. The committee has been in
limbo since March, when its five Democrats balked at
adopting Republican-developed rules.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said
last week that the controversy was distracting DeLay
from dealing with more pressing problems before
Santorum, however, said DeLay is "very effective in
leading the House" and "to date, has not been
A senior Democratic senator, Christopher Dodd of
Connecticut, had this advice for the Republicans who
control both the House and Senate: "Be careful about
how closely you embrace Mr. DeLay."
Dodd cited the new rules for the ethics committee that
House Republicans rammed through in the wake of
DeLay's difficulties. Those rules require a bipartisan
vote before an investigation can be launched. DeLay's
office also helped mount a counterattack last fall
against Rep. Joel Hefley (news, bio, voting record),
R-Colo., who was the ethics committee chairman when it
came down against DeLay.
"Unfortunately, in his particular case, there's a
process that he's tried to change so they could
actually reach a determination as to whether or not
he's innocent or guilty of the things he's been
charged with," Dodd said. "But this is not going to go
DeLay "becomes the poster child for a lot of the
things the Democrats think are wrong about Republican
leadership. As long as he's there, he's going to
become a pretty good target," Dodd said on ABC.
DeLay, who took center stage in passing legislation
designed to keep alive Terri Schiavo, also has found
that President Bush and congressional colleagues are
distancing themselves from his comments, after her
death, about the judges involved in her case.
"The time will come for the men responsible for this
to answer for their behavior," DeLay said, raising the
prospect of impeaching members of a separate and
independent branch of government. Later, he complained
of "an arrogant and out of control judiciary that
thumbs its nose at Congress and the president."
Bush, declining to endorse DeLay's comments, said
Friday that he supports "an independent judiciary." He
added, "I believe in proper checks and balances."
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee said
last week that the judges "handled it in a fair and
independent way," although he had hoped for a
Democrats have said DeLay's remarks were tantamount to
inciting violence against judges.
Associated Press Writers Lolita C. Baldor and Suzanne
Gamboa contributed to this report.