Hammer Time?

Posted April 30, 2004 at 5:32pm

Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer dispatched a letter to House lawmakers last week, one month after he challenged them to transmit a complaint against Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R) to the ethics committee regarding the Texan’s charity. [IMGCAP(1)]

At issue is Celebrations for Children, which Wertheimer contends is being misused for political purposes to pay for parties, golf and yacht cruises at the Republican National Convention in New York.

DeLay has denied his organization is doing anything improper, and Wertheimer has yet to hear from a single Member.

“We recognize that Representative DeLay is one of the most powerful Members of Congress and is well known for his reputation as ‘The Hammer,’” Wertheimer’s latest missive stated. “Nevertheless, we continue to think there must be at least one Representative who is willing to protect the integrity of the House as an institution by taking action to ensure that DeLay’s misuse of his charity for political purposes is appropriately investigated and addressed by the House Ethics Committee.”

Wertheimer further elucidated that if no lawmaker will ask the ethics committee to take a look at DeLay’s actions, “the conclusion most likely to be reached is that all Representatives are complicit in Representative DeLay’s misuse of his charity for political purposes and his abuse of the nation’s charity tax laws.”

Campbell Probe Sought. A former spokesman for the White House drug czar asked the Justice Department to investigate the awarding of a $1.5 million no-bid contract sought by Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo).

Robert Weiner, who worked for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy from 1995 to 2001, has asked Attorney General John Ashcroft to look into whether a top official on the staff was forced out after he objected to the awarding of the contract.

The Denver Post reported last month that Campbell, who had served on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee funding ONDCP, had twice pressed in letters for a no-bid contract to go to an Oregon-based computer company. That firm had hired a top Denver-based lobbying shop with close ties to Campbell that contributed heavily to his re-election campaign.

Al Brandenstein, director of the White House Counterdrug Technology Center, objected to the contract, calling it “improper.” He was demoted and retired from his position last month.

— Amy Keller and Damon Chappie