DeLay Words Called ‘Reckless’

Posted April 1, 2005 at 5:54pm

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) warned House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) on Friday that he may have violated a criminal statute that prohibits threats against federal judges.

In a letter to DeLay, Lautenberg said the Majority Leader should apologize for “reckless statements” that seemed to threaten retaliation against state and federal judges who denied petitions to save Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman who died Thursday.[IMGCAP(1)]

After Schiavo’s death, DeLay said, “The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior.” He did not rule out impeachment.

Reminding DeLay that two judges have been murdered in recent months, Lautenberg noted that federal law imposes jail sentences of up to six years for “whoever threatens to assault … or murder, a United States judge … on account of the performance of official duties.”

DeLay spokesman Dan Allen said Lautenberg was trying to “politicize the passing of Terri Schiavo. … The courts clearly ignored the intent of the legislation passed to save Terri Schiavo’s life. To suggest otherwise is simply obscene.”

Energy Jolt. Attention, energy and environmental lobbyists: House Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas) will mark up the Energy Policy Act of 2005 on April 5.

“Basically, we’re up against the clock,” said Walker Nolan, whose energy clients include the Edison Electric Institute. “Both the House and Senate leadership and committee leadership see a window of opportunity to get a bill done.”

A no-holds-barred fight is expected over the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether. For now, the energy bill includes liability protections for MTBE makers.

Martin Edwards, vice president of legislative affairs for the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, said his group expects considerable debate over procedures for approving gas pipelines.

Mark Sokolove of the League of Conservation Voters said his group opposes the MTBE provision, adding, “This bill does virtually nothing to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

One-Sided Spending? Spending for print and television advertisements on legislative issues totaled more than $404 million during the 108th Congress, according to the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

In a 60-page report released last week, researchers determined that a tiny slice of organizations — about 1 percent — accounted for 57 percent of dollars spent in 2003 and 2004. The top spender was embattled mortgage industry giant Fannie Mae, which accounted for $87.2 million — more than 22 percent of the total.

Business outspent citizens’ groups 5-to-1. Ads on business and the economy accounted for about 26 percent of all spending, followed by health care and energy and the environment.

— Emily Pierce, Kate Ackley and Amy Keller