Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay has refused to state that he'll return over $30,000 in campaign contributions from several of Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham's (R-CA) co-conspirators. Cunningham, who resigned on Monday after admitting guilt in a $2.4 million conspiracy and tax evasion scandal involving defense contractors who lined his pockets in return for special treatment in D.C, named four co-conspirators, a few of whom have been large DeLay donors.
Speaking on behalf of DeLay, Jim Ellis, the indicted head of DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority PAC (ARMPAC), when asked by The Hill newspaper, refused to say that DeLay would return the dirty money.
DeLay's Democratic challenger in his Texas District 22, Nick Lampson, said "It seems like every week someone connected to Tom DeLay is indicted or pleads guilty to corruption or bribery. Southeast Texans are getting tired of the same old tune from Tom DeLay and his cronies. We need someone who can spend their time making decisions on how this country can work to cut our record deficits and trade gap and keep our borders secure rather than spending time deciding whether or not to return funds from criminals and cronies."
DeLay himself has recently been indicted on conspiracy and for illegal campaign finance schemes. He has a 51% disapproval rating, and 42% of Texas voters think he should resign from Congress.
"It's just amazing," said Lampson. "You have the indicted head of Tom DeLay's PAC refusing on behalf of indicted Tom DeLay to return tens of thousands of dollars in tainted money from people named as co-conspirators in a bribery plea agreement. You couldn't make this stuff up if you wanted to. It sends a terrible message to Southeast Texans and shows once again that whoever Tom Delay is working for, it isn't them."
Others lawmakers facing similar scrutiny for funds donated by scandal-plagued lawmakers and lobbyists have given back money. These include Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo), who returned contributions received from indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff; and Rep. Jeb Bradley (R-NH), Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo), Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) and Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH), all of whom returned money given by DeLay after he was indicted in September.