From the Washington Post:
House Republicans proposed changing their rules last night to allow members indicted by state grand juries to remain in a leadership post, a move that would benefit Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) in case he is charged by a Texas grand jury that has indicted three of his political associates, according to GOP leaders.
The proposed rule change, which several leaders predicted would win approval at a closed meeting today, comes as House Republicans return to Washington feeling indebted to DeLay for the slightly enhanced majority they won in this month’s elections. DeLay led an aggressive redistricting effort in Texas last year that resulted in five Democratic House members retiring or losing reelection. It also triggered a grand jury inquiry into fundraising efforts related to the state legislature’s redistricting actions.
House Republicans adopted the indictment rule in 1993, when they were trying to end four decades of Democratic control of the House, in part by highlighting Democrats’ ethical lapses. They said at the time that they held themselves to higher standards than prominent Democrats such as then-Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (Ill.), who eventually pleaded guilty to mail fraud and was sentenced to prison.
The GOP rule drew little notice until this fall, when DeLay’s associates were indicted and Republican lawmakers began to worry that their majority leader might be forced to step aside if the grand jury targeted him next. Democrats and watchdog groups blasted the Republicans’ proposal last night.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last night: “If they make this rules change, Republicans will confirm yet again that they simply do not care if their leaders are ethical. If Republicans believe that an indicted member should be allowed to hold a top leadership position in the House of Representatives, their arrogance is astonishing.”
C’mon, Nancy, didn’t you hear? Tom DeLay himself said, “I AM the Federal Government!”
Take a look at Jonathan Kaplan’s piece on this story in The Hill.
Frankly, I don’t know what the Republicans are worried about. The Gotti family proved that you can be in Sing-Sing and still run the mob.