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DeLay inquiry set to move; GOP ethics chairman backs down

John Byrne

The Republican Chairman of the House Ethics Committee has retreated on a bid to have his chief of staff become co-director for the Committee, paving the way for ethics investigations of House members, including House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), RAW STORY has learned.

In a letter to members of Congress today, Ethics Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA)indicated he will retreat from a plan to have his personal chief of staff Ed Cassidy serve as co-director of the committee.

The move is a breakthrough for Democrats, who have demanded all aspects of the committee remain bipartisan. Once a chief counsel is selected, the committee can organize and begin investigations into House members, including Republican leader DeLay.

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Previously, the Ethics Committee has elected a chief counsel with consent of both Democrats and Republicans. Despite a Republican majority in the House, the Committee is bipartisan, with five members from each party.

Hastings says his position is unchanged, that he always intended a bipartisan vote on the chief counsel, but his position is at odds with news reports.

DeLay has been plagued by questions surrounding trips that were paid for by lobbyists, as well as investigations into campaign finance problems back in Texas. He has been admonished by the committee three times.

Democrats see the move as a victory. They also recently forced the Republican majority to back down on new, looser ethics rules.

While the committee can reform, there still remains no clear sense of a timeline for inquiries. A recent Washington Post article suggested that formal investigations might not begin for months, though the latest breakthrough could expedite the process.

Statements from Democrats are expected shortly.

Following below is Hastings letter, leaked to RAW STORY.

Originally published on Wednesday June 29, 2005.

 


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