Friday, June 10, 2005

Hastings Rescues Delay

Our favorite poster-child for unethical behavior, House Majority Leader Tom Delay, has dodged a bullet once again, narrowly escaping the gavel of justice. This time, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-VA), chairman of the House Ethics Committee, has thrown the panel back into stalemate, thus making sure it'll be a good long while before Delay gets that independent/non-partisan investigation he so publicly craves. The trouble is that Hastings, thumbing his nose at the House rules book which requires the committee to hire "professional, non-partisan staff," insists that his personal chief of staff, Ed Cassidy, be appointed to oversee committee operations. But, like many other influential Republicans in Washington these days, Hastings doesn't like being told to follow rules (they much prefer telling us to follow them instead...and then bash the hell out of us when we don't) and has shut down the committee in retaliation, the second time this year that the panel's been brought to a standstill over contentious partisan politics. What's even more troubling is the fact that Hastings has been in bed with the lobbying firm, Preston Gates & Ellis, that's been the focus of Delay's ethics scandal, according to a report published this week in the NY Times. PG&E was also home to embattled lobbyist Jack Abramoff, accused along with Delay back in the 90's of showing the Marianas Islands how to avoid U.S. labor laws. Workers there are in low-paying sweatshop jobs and are subject to often brutal working conditions including alleged forced prostitution. Of note is that Hastings has received $14,000 from PG&E since 1996. Can you say conflict of interest? No wonder Delay so earnestly seeks the investigation into his own behavior. With friends and cohorts like Hastings running the show, why worry? Perhaps Delay should not be the only one in this scandal to step down. Andy

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