The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

DEPARTMENT OF NICE TRY

With the heat on Tom DeLay only growing, his apologists seem ready to scorch the earth to save their man's job. Expect a lot of unfounded accusations against the likes of Pelosi, Reid, etc.

In the meantime, they're looking for anything at all. Today Matt Drudge links to this story, crafting the headline "PAPER: Vermont Congressman Paid Wife And Stepdaughter -- Just Like Delay...". It's clear what the aim is here. But as is often the case with this sort of ethical-equivalency accusation, the blanket charge obscures the important differences in the details. Here's what the story says, and I have taken the liberty of emphasizing the jobs held by Rep Sanders' wife and daughter:
Rep. Bernard Sanders used campaign donations to pay his wife and stepdaughter more than $150,000 for campaign-related work since 2000, according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Jane O'Meara Sanders, his wife, received $91,020 between 2002 and 2004 for "consultation" and for negotiating the purchase of television and radio time-slots for Sanders' advertisements, according to records and interviews.

Approximately $61,000 of that was "pass through" money that was used to pay media outlets for advertising time, Jane O'Meara Sanders said in an interview. The rest, about $30,000, she kept as payment for her services, she said.

Carina Driscoll, daughter to Jane O'Meara Sanders and stepdaughter to the lawmaker, earned $65,002 in "wages" between 2000 and 2004, campaign records show.

Driscoll, a former state legislator, served as Rep. Sanders' campaign manager in 2000, his fund-raiser and office manager in 2003 and his database manager in 2004, according to Jeff Weaver, Sanders' chief of staff.

"Both of them are regarded as people who are knowledgable about Vermont politics," Weaver said Tuesday. "They earned every penny they got."
Compare that to Tom DeLay's explanation for the hundreds of thousands of dollars his PAC gave his wife. From the New York Times:
The wife and daughter of Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, have been paid more than $500,000 since 2001 by Mr. DeLay's political action and campaign committees, according to a detailed review of disclosure statements filed with the Federal Election Commission and separate fund-raising records in Mr. DeLay's home state, Texas.

Most of the payments to his wife, Christine A. DeLay, and his only child, Dani DeLay Ferro, were described in the disclosure forms as "fund-raising fees," "campaign management" or "payroll," with no additional details about how they earned the money. The payments appear to reflect what Mr. DeLay's aides say is the central role played by the majority leader's wife and daughter in his political career.

Mr. DeLay's national political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority, or Armpac, said in a statement on Tuesday that the two women had provided valuable services to the committee in exchange for the payments: "Mrs. DeLay provides big picture, long-term strategic guidance and helps with personnel decisions. Ms. Ferro is a skilled and experienced professional event planner who assists Armpac in arranging and organizing individual events."
While the payments to his daughter appear more legit (she's managed some of his campaigns), the explanation for the money he gave his wife (considerably more than what Sanders gave his) is laughable. Drudge's headline is nothing more than the erection of a strawman, trying to confuse the issue by saying paying family members in the first place is the problem, when the real issue is that DeLay seems to have given PAC money to his wife (an a lot of it) for little-to-no actual work. He should stick to making false charges about John Kerry.

UPDATE: As of 6PM Pacific, Drudge no longer links to that story. Oh well!

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