The Facts: Ethics and DeLay, Rove, Abramoff, etc.

There are so many ethics scandals swirling in the capital right now, one might be tempted to think it must be a really slow news month and everyone's just scraping around for something to talk about. Not so! There happens to be plenty of news, and these particular scandals are concerning enough to stick around even up against so much other big news.

Before we tap into the debate over what the various scandals mean, here are some basic facts to keep in mind.

First up is the matter of the leaking of Valerie Plame's name. The grand jury investigating the leak is set to expire on Oct. 28, so indictments -- assuming there will be any -- should be handed down in the coming days. Plenty of documents related to the case can be viewed at FindLaw, including Title 50, section 421 of the U.S. Code, setting out the rules regarding disclosure of the identity of an undercover agent. Time magazine provides this timeline of events in the leak case. Here's factcheck.org on the Valerie Plame case and the distortions of the truth on both sides.

If you read nothing else recommended here, be sure to check out the dueling accounts in the New York Times of how reporter Judith Miller ended up in jail -- first the newspaper's account, then Miller's. Oh, and don't miss the Robert Novak column in which he outed Plame, and the NYT op-ed by Joe Wilson that started it all.

Moving on to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay -- that is, former House majority leader Tom DeLay ...

... He is no stranger to ethical scandals. Here's a compilation of DeLay scandals (warning: it's written with some attitude, but the facts are there) by Slate, which also offers a readable (if, again, not perfectly straight) piece on infamous lobbyist Jack Abramoff's "extraordinary career." The Post offers the definitive account (so far) of Abramoff's misdeeds. (It even comes complete with graphics, like this one on Abramoff's Paper Trail. Also available is DeLay Indicted: A Post Special Report as well as a LiveOnline about the case.

Beef up on lobbying laws with the meaty Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995. The Rules from the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct are also worth a look, and then read the brief post-indictment lovefest for Tom DeLay courtesy of Rep. Wilson of South Carolina. (After waxing eloquent about DeLay and partisan attacks, Wilson's closing line is 'In conclusion, God bless our troops, and we will never forget September 11." I wonder, is that a common closing line, even when completely unrelated to everything previously said?)

Definitely read the text of the DeLay indictment, and here's some breaking(ish) news about the warrant issued for DeLay's arrest. And in case you're wondering about Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's questionable stock sale, here's Jim Lehrer's News Hour discussing the matter.

Have any good leads on interesting opinion pieces regarding these scandals? Any other scandals you'd like me to explore as part of this week's Debate? Leave me a comment below. You're also welcome to e-mail me at debate@washpost.com.

By Emily Messner |  October 19, 2005; 5:30 PM ET  | Category:  Facts
Previous: Iraq's Election and the U.S. Elections | Next: Rove, Libby, and Tom DeLay's Mug Shot

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Good links today Emily!

Yeah, we all know DeLay is a little sleezeball, but the Plame affair info is interesting. I particularly liked the factcheck.org timeline/summary. From reading that I get the sense that it is a more a case of the administration (or vice-president's office) being sloppy, careless, indifferent and/or incompetent, than it is of deliberate and malicious retribution for the Wilson letter. I'm just not sure if that makes it better or worse. I at least feel a little bit less like Rove/Libby/Cheney are the type of comic book villains you might think they were if you believed they engineered a life-threatening outing of a covert agent as payack for an embarrassing op-ed peice. Of course, seeing incompetence and negligence rather than malice is just my reading, and maybe others would disagree. I would be interested on other people's opinions after reading the timeline.

Posted by: Sonny | October 20, 2005 12:13 PM

What about the rumors swirling regarding Cheney's resignation? Dude, the stench of corruption is thickening.

Posted by: benny | October 20, 2005 04:06 PM

What about the rumors swirling regarding Cheney's resignation? Dude, the stench of corruption is thickening.

Posted by: benny | October 20, 2005 04:06 PM

What about the rumors swirling regarding Cheney's resignation? Dude, the stench of corruption is thickening.

Posted by: benny | October 20, 2005 04:07 PM

What about the rumors swirling regarding Cheney's resignation? Dude, the stench of corruption is thickening.

Posted by: benny | October 20, 2005 04:08 PM

What about the rumors swirling regarding Cheney's resignation? The stench of corruption is thickening.

Posted by: benny | October 20, 2005 05:29 PM

base on the info on fact check, ms plame had been outed in 1994 and her cover pretty much blown.
in addition, it is pretty clear that they were avid Gore supporters. she also jeopardized her cover by writing a check from a CIA front company. was this her money? was this government monies being funneled into a presidential campaign?
in addition, it was pretty convenient that 2 avid democratic supporters sought to embarrass the administration with mr wilson's whitewash of the fact of WMD. what about judith miller and her notes about ms flame (plame) that she wrote in 1999 for her book about germ warfare. was this the leak? this was well before the administration was involved.
the disclosure by a reporter just isn't very interesting compared to blaming administration officials. it is scandalous, but not on the administration side.
besides, she was not undercover since 1994. anyone could have noted who went in and out of CIA headquarters and figured out that she worked for the CIA.
what's the crime?

Posted by: moses | October 21, 2005 09:11 AM

I think it is the duty of the agent to keep his or cover classified. If it is truly the fault of the administration, then the administration should be disciplined accordingly. If it is the fault of the agent, then the agent is ultimately responsible. Irresponsible, slant, Leftist journalism is always partially responsible.

Posted by: Brad Temple | October 21, 2005 09:26 AM

i read the DeLay indictment. it seems a bit far fetched to me. it appears that he is indicted because he worked within the RNC and knew colyando and ellis.
look at the record of this prosecutor and you can see that this was trumped up to embarrass the republican party. these frivolous charges are the real crime.

Posted by: moses | October 21, 2005 09:43 AM


Tom Delay is crook. He's proved that with the company he has kept. No one is above the law. Not even Mr. Delay who has a knack of changing the law to fit his ill begotten deeds.

Posted by: Lee | October 21, 2005 07:50 PM

Emily, you are right on target when you say, "There are so many ethics scandals swirling in the capital right now."

Yes, indeed. The latest scandal, however, seems to be the call issued by Charles Krauthammer and others that Harriet Miers must withdraw.

Krauthammer says in today's Post that Miers should withdraw on grounds of "irreconciliable differences over documents." He frames the case as a conflict between the White House and the Senate. The White House would not release "policy documents" and "legal analysis" from such a close confidante (so says Krauthammer). But the Senate cannot confirm unless this information is made available (so says K.).

One would expect the President to be forthcoming and provide the documents required by the Senate because the Senate MUST have this information. Or, if the President holds back the information (let us assume, rightfully) the Senate will vote without the knowledge of the documents. So, if the White House is keen on the confirmation of Miers it MUST release the documents demanded by the Senate. If, on the other hand, the White House considers it absolutely necessary not to release the documents in order to preserve executive prerogative then it SHOULD NOT release the documents.

In any case, the burden is on the White House because it is the Prez that nominated Miers.

To demand that Miers must withdraw sounds rather silly. Why should she? She has the confidence of the Prez. She is said to possess legal acumen and belong to a conservative, fundamentalist church which is essentially pro-life. So, what's the big deal?

If she has any respect for the Prez she must stick with him. If he has no confidence in her HE must withdraw her nomination. Don't put the burden on poor Miers and ask her to "put preservation of executive privilege above personal ambition." She did not nominate herself to the Court! How can you accuse her of being ambitious?

Posted by: Joe M. | October 21, 2005 09:30 PM

it seems that Benny is practicing the old thought that if you say something enough times it becomes true. what's up with that Benny? without rumors Wall Street and the Media could never function and with them the world is a deeply troubling place.

Posted by: deege | October 21, 2005 09:33 PM

good logic in your argument Joe.

Posted by: deege | October 21, 2005 09:35 PM

Don't understand why no one has dug up the Italian journalist story which was the real start of the whole yellowflake myth.
An Italian reporter for reasons best known to herself wrote a column "revealing that Iraq was trying to buy yellowflake uranium from Niger. My own recollection is that this was reported in The New Yorker magazine, perhaps by Seymour Hersh. Hunch: this report got the administration all excited. Aha -- weapons of mass des-truction AT LAST.

Posted by: n.a.palmer | October 22, 2005 06:34 PM

You are on front page of Vois.com the blog search engine

Posted by: Vois.com | October 22, 2005 07:42 PM

Something that is probably obvious but I haven't seen anything on it yet- probably missed it- but, why isn't Robert Novak being charged with violating the law?

Posted by: Bill Wetmore | October 27, 2005 02:02 PM

No one seems to bring the idea to the table that there is no exit strategy for the US to withdraw from Iraq because the administration never intended to leave it's spoils unguarded

Posted by: sad&tired | November 23, 2005 06:46 AM

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