WASHINGTON – Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s announcement that he will not seek reelection and will resign from Congress provides new evidence that the public is ready to sweep out corruption from Congress, said leaders of two activist organizations actively involved in drawing the links between DeLay-style corruption and the cost to American families.
Public Campaign Action Fund national campaigns director David Donnelly and Campaign for America’s Future co-director Roger Hickey joined with leaders of activist citizen organizations MoveOn.org, Common Cause, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and Public Citizen for a conference call with reporters today to discuss the implications of Rep. DeLay’s scandals and the boost his resignation represents to efforts to energize citizen campaigns that refocus American politics. The two groups have combined efforts to run ads in Rep. DeLay’s Texas district, and they plan more Clean Up Congress campaigns in other districts to highlight the cost of corruption to working and middle-class Americans.
“Tom DeLay’s chickens are coming home to roost,” said Donnelly. “DeLay’s rise to power was fueled by money, and he was a master of using campaign money to engineer political victories for his allies and policy victories for his corporate donors. But he served money and not the voters, and that’s why was forced from Congress.”
Hickey said that Rep. DeLay’s resignation represents a victory for independent citizen activism.
“Tom DeLay was brought down by the arrogance and political ambition of the political money machine he helped to build – in cooperation with other powerful individuals and organizations. But citizen action played an important role,” said Hickey. “The lesson here is that when citizen groups – who are not cowed by special interests – are willing to expose the truth, even the most powerful can be brought down.”
Hickey and Donnelly said that each of the groups at today’s press conference has been actively working to focus the sunshine of public disclosure and public discussion on the corrupt DeLay machine – which they stressed is still connecting special interest money with individual politicians in exchange for votes to benefit those interests. And they pledged to continue to go into Congressional districts with ads and organizing designed to publicize those corrupt connections and clean up Congress.
The two groups’ public education campaign on Tom DeLay’s big money agenda involves many educational activities:
–Public Campaign Action Fund’s Campaign Money Watch project ran radio and television advertisements in Tom DeLay’s district in October 2004 in the ten days before election day.
–In April, 2005, the Campaign for America’s Future aired ads in DeLay’s Houston district and in Washington, D.C., calling out DeLay’s corruption in dramatic, compelling images.
–Public Campaign Action Fund runs an on-going weblog called the Daily DeLay to chronicle news stories, commentary, and activist ideas. –Early in 2005, the Campaign for America’s Future launched the Project for an Accountable Congress to expose how legal graft dominates in Washington today. Tom DeLay was an early focus, along with Bob Ney, John Tanner, and Jim McCrery. With meticulous research, the Campaign shows how special interest deals affect working families in member districts- higher prices for prescription drugs, fuel and student loans.
–Working with other groups, Public Campaign Action Fund lead the fight against the DeLay Rule, an effort by Republicans in the House to reverse a decade-old rule that forced a member of leadership to resign if indicted. Our members catalogued where members of Congress stood on the DeLay rule, creating the only public record of a secret vote. The public outcry and attention forced DeLay to reverse the rule.
–In late January, 2006, the Campaign for America’s Future joined with Public Campaign Action Fund to run and ad in DeLay’s Houston district regarding a million dollar gift from Russian oil tycoons to a DeLay-related nonprofit. The ad, which called on DeLay to resign, ultimately aired despite DeLay’s threat to sue television stations.
–Public Campaign Action Fund is working with Campaign for America’s Future on a joint Clean Up Congress effort to hold elected officials accountable for the special favors they give to their political donors, and fight for comprehensive reforms in our political system.
–Throughout 2005 and into 2006, both groups have educated voters in DeLay’s district and elsewhere about corruption in Congress using television, radio, print advertising, and grassroots organizing.
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**NOTE: Visuals and additional descriptions of the Campaign for America’s Future and Public Campaign Action Fund campaign around Rep. DeLay can be found at http://www.campaignmoney.org/delay and http://www.ourfuture.org/No_More_DeLays.cfm**