GOP congressman demands DeLay quit

Connecticut's Shays says conduct is hurting party

April 11, 2005|By Mary Curtius | Mary Curtius,LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON -- The near-solid wall of public support that Republicans have displayed for embattled House Majority Leader Tom DeLay began to crackyesterday, with a Senate leader saying the Texas Republican needs to "lay out what he did and why he did it" and a House member calling on him to step down from his post.

DeLay, who last year was admonished three times by the House Permanent Select Committee on Ethics for his hardball political tactics, has been the subject of recent news reports involving trips he took that were indirectly funded by lobbyists or foreign agents -- a violation of House rules. DeLay's staff has said that the congressmen knew only that the trips were paid for by nonprofit groups and had reported that on disclosure forms. He also has been criticized for his association with a lobbyist under federal investigation.

Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a conservative who is the third-ranking Republican in the Senate, told ABC's This Week that DeLay needed to explain his actions.

"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 said, adding, "From everything I've heard ... everything he's done was according to the law."

In an interview yesterday with the Associated Press, Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut -- a moderate who is one of DeLay's most outspoken critics among House Republicans -- was more blunt.

"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," he told AP.

Shays declined yesterday to elaborate on his views. But his press secretary, Sarah Moore, confirmed that the quotes were accurate and said that Shays intended them to be understood as a call for DeLay to resign as majority leader.

Moore said Shays was questioned by constituents about DeLay during town hall meetings in his district over the weekend.

During one of those meetings, in Greenwich on Saturday, Shays was quoted by the Greenwich Time newspaper as saying: "Do I think Tom DeLay will be the majority leader by the end of this term? No."

Party strategists and some Republican members of Congress have said privately for weeks that DeLay's position as majority leader would only be threatened if the questions raised about his trips and his business associations began to resonate in Republican districts.

Dan Allen, a spokesman for DeLay, refused to say whether Santorum's and Shays' comments were politically damaging. "Congressman DeLay has been very effective in helping to build and strengthen the House majority and for that reason alone, the liberal groups funded by George Soros are attacking him," Allen said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Soros is a billionaire activist who finances pro-democracy organizations here and abroad and poured millions into trying to defeat President Bush in November.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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