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1495DeLay to Spend Primary Night With Lobbyists

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  • Ram Lau
    Mar 6, 2006
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      http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2006/03/07/news/politics/16_21_363_6_06.txt
      DeLay to Spend Primary Night With Lobbyists
      Embattled Texas Lawmaker Faces Rare Election Challenge
      By SUZANNE GAMBOA, AP

      WASHINGTON (March 7) - Rep. Tom DeLay, whose association with lobbyist
      Jack Abramoff has left him politically vulnerable, is spending Texas'
      primary night Tuesday at a fundraiser hosted by two Washington lobbyists.

      DeLay faces three opponents in the Republican primary. For the first
      time in the 22 years he's held office, he is up against a serious
      challenge after being forced out of his job as House majority leader
      amid corruption and campaign finance scandals.

      The fundraiser is being held by lobbyists Bill Paxon and Susan
      Molinari, both former members of Congress from New York. The event
      will raise money for DeLay's re-election campaign.

      DeLay spokeswoman Shannon Flaherty said DeLay would be in Washington
      for votes and has other events on his schedule including the
      fundraiser. She said he was unavailable for an interview.

      Paxon said if DeLay were to go to Texas for the primary, he would be
      criticized for leaving Washington while Congress was in session. The
      House is scheduled Tuesday evening to give final approval to the
      Patriot Act.

      Paxon, now a lobbyist with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, and his
      wife, Molinari, are friends of DeLay. Molinari is chairwoman and CEO
      of The Washington Group, a Ketchum company.

      DeLay's toughest primary challenger, attorney Tom Campbell, criticized
      the congressman's election night plans.

      "I think it's amazingly ironic and callous he would be spending
      election night with a group of lobbyists," Campbell said. "I don't
      think he understands how unhappy constituents are with what appears to
      be a trade of principle for power."

      DeLay has been the muscle behind the K Street Project in Washington,
      in which lobbying firms were pressured to hire Republicans and
      contribute to Republicans. He was rebuked by the House ethics
      committee in 1998 for lashing out at one industry group for hiring a
      Democrat.

      The ethics panel also rebuked DeLay in 2004 for mingling at a golf
      outing with executives from a Kansas utility that was trying at the
      time to get a favorable provision added to an energy bill. The
      committee said then that DeLay created an appearance of favoritism by
      meeting with the executives just days after they contributed to a
      Texas fundraising committee he started.

      DeLay is awaiting trial in Texas on money laundering charges stemming
      from an investigation of corporate contributions to that committee.

      Questions also have been raised about DeLay's relationship with
      Abramoff, who pleaded guilty in January in a federal political
      corruption investigation. DeLay traveled with Abramoff and other
      lobbyists to Scotland in 2000. He also used the lobbyist's skybox for
      a donor appreciation event and has accepted contributions from
      Abramoff and his clients.

      DeLay has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and has labeled the Texas
      investigation a political witch hunt.

      DeLay has been behind in the fundraising race against the Democrat he
      would oppose if he wins Tuesday.

      In reports filed with the Federal Election Commission late last month,
      DeLay had raised about $153,000 between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15, compared
      with $248,000 for Nick Lampson, a former congressman. DeLay had about
      $1.3 million cash on hand as of Feb. 15, while Lampson had $1.4
      million. Since then, he has raised another $172,000 for his campaign.

      Republican Campbell has reported raising about $79,000 between Jan. 1
      and Feb. 15, with $17,200 cash on hand. Since then he has reported
      raising $8,900.
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