Sunday, January 08, 2006

DeLay, Doolittle and Pombo - Strike Again

The LA Times details how Tom DeLay disciples, John Doolittle (CA-4) and Dick Pombo (CA-11) helped blow-up the government's case against Houston millionaire, Charles Hurwitz. Hurwitz, a profligate contributor to conservative Republicans, was under investigation for his role in the collapse of a Texas savings and loan in which he owned a controlling interest. The failure of Hurwitz's United Savings Association of Texas, cost taxpayers $1.6 billion and triggered a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation investigation that attempted to recover $300 million in restitution from Hurwitz.

"In key aspects, the Hurwitz case follows the pattern of the Abramoff scandal: members of Congress using their offices to do favors for a politically well-connected individual who, in turn, supplies them with campaign funds. Although Washington politicians frequently try to help important constituents and contributors, it is unusual for members of Congress to take direct steps to stymie an ongoing investigation by an agency such as the FDIC.

And the actions of the two Californians reflect DeLay's broad strategy of cementing relationships with individuals, business interests and lobbyists whose financial support enabled Republicans to extend their grip on Congress and on government agencies as well. The system DeLay developed and Abramoff took part in went beyond simple quid pro quo; it mobilized whatever GOP resources were available to help those who could help the party.


The effort to help Hurwitz began in 1999 when DeLay wrote a letter to the chairman of the FDIC denouncing the investigation of Hurwitz as a "form of harassment and deceit on the part of government employees." When the FDIC persisted, Doolittle and Pombo — both considered proteges of DeLay — used their power as members of the House Resources Committee to subpoena the agency's confidential records on the case, including details of the evidence FDIC investigators had compiled on Hurwitz.

Then, in 2001, the two congressmen inserted many of the sensitive documents into the Congressional Record, making them public and accessible to Hurwitz's lawyers, a move that FDIC officials said damaged the government's ability to pursue the banker.

The FDIC's chief spokesman characterized what Doolittle and Pombo did as "a seamy abuse of the legislative process." But soon afterward, in 2002, the FDIC dropped its case against Hurwitz, who had owned a controlling interest in the United Savings Assn. of Texas. United Savings' failure was one of the worst of the S&L debacles in the 1980s."

The Times details Hurwitz financial connections to the Republican Party and his particular affinity for donations to Tom DeLay.

"Hurwitz has been a prolific campaign donor since the early 1990s.

He has contributed personally and with funds provided by his Houston-based flagship company, Maxxam Inc., through subsidiaries such as Kaiser Aluminum, and through a company political action committee, Maxxam Inc. Federal PAC.

In the last three federal elections cycles, those entities have given about $443,000 in political contributions — most of it to conservative politicians, including President Bush, for whom Hurwitz pledged to raise $100,000 in the 2000 campaign and also helped during that year's vote tally deadlock in Florida.

Hurwitz has been generous with DeLay too.

Starting in the 2000 election cycle, the businessman and his committees have distributed at least $30,000 to DeLay and his federal causes, including $5,000 for his current legal defense fund in the Texas money-laundering case."

Let's break this down then. Hurwitz is a principle in a Texas savings and loan company that fails in 1988 due to mismanagement and alleged plundering by its executive. By the early 1990's Hurwitz has become a major contributor to the DeLay wing of the Republican Party. By 1995 when federal regulators have finally untangled the threads at Hurwitz S&L and come after Hurwitz himself, he has purchased the support of Tom DeLay.

As the investigation proceeds, DeLay sets up two of his up-and-coming associates in the congress of corruption to torpedo the case against Hurwitz by reading sensitive government documents into the public Congressional Record.

John Doolittle and Dick Pombo, both ambitious Republicans working hard to get to the top of their party, comply and, using information they gained from their position in Congress, work to compromise the taxpayer's case against Hurwitz.

Just sitting Tom DeLay down isn't going to remove the stench from the Republican Party and the United States Congress. This House needs to be completely fumigated. Cockroaches like DeLay, Doolittle and Pombo need to exterminated from the government.

(Hat tip to Jonathan Singer at MyDD)