Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), former house majority leader, told House allies last week that he will give up his seat rather than face a re-election fight that does not appear to be in his favor.
The decision came three days after Tony C. Rudy, DeLay’s chief of staff, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and corruption charges. Rudy told federal prosecutors of a criminal enterprise being run out of DeLay’s leadership offices.
“I’m a realist. I’ve been around awhile,” he said. “I can evaluate political situations.” Yet, Delay told reporters he did not do anything illegal or immoral while in public office.
“[Although] Rudy’s plea argument did not implicate DeLay in any illegal activities, [it did] place the influence-buying efforts of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff directly in DeLay’s operation. [By doing this] the former aide may have made an already difficult re-election bid all but out of reach,” according to The Washington Post reports.
DeLay did not say precisely when he will step down, but according to Texas law he must either die, be convicted of a felony or move out of his district to be removed from the November ballot.
“DeLay’s stepping down is supposed to make it seem that there is going to be an actual change in national politics,” said Devon Samuel Nelson, a junior majoring international business at The College of New Jersey. ”But in actuality, his stepping down will only give the appearance of change and it is not as big a change as it is made out to be.”
Former aides and sources close to DeLay said his decision was not motivated by Rudy’s guilty plea but by DeLay’s concerns that he might lose his suburban Houston seat to his Democratic opponent, former representative Nick Lampson, and his belief that another Republican could win instead.
DeLay faces a trial later this year on money laundering charges in Texas that stems from an October 2005 indictment related to corporate contributions to state elections in 2001 and 2002. Texas law forbids business donations to state House campaigns.