DeLay mails letter
Kristen Mack in the Chronicle:
The Sugar Land Republican congressman has sent an eight-page letter to constituents, written in script and asking for their support as he contends with questions about his ties to an indicted lobbyist, an indictment of his own and political challenges from inside and outside his party.
DeLay sent the letter to thousands of Republicans in the 22nd Congressional District, saying he wanted to answer questions directly and personally.
In the letter DeLay distances himself from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, whom he called "one of my closest and dearest friends," during a trip to the Northern Mariana Islands in 1997.
"The notion that Abramoff was a close friend who wielded influence over me is absolutely untrue," DeLay writes. "Jack Abramoff and I were not close personal friends. I met with him only occasionally, in fact less frequently than numerous others who brought issues before Congress — never did he receive preferential treatment. To be certain, I knew nothing about the crimes for which he has pled guilty."
Meanwhile, Fort Bend Now also covered the letter, but carries more reaction from Lampson's camp:
U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay sent a letter to thousands of constituents this week denying he’s been involved in any wrong-doing with Jack Abramoff, and denying a close friendship with the scandal-tainted former lobbyist.Fort Bend Now allows comments -- like a blog -- and this article has a running comment thread.
According to a Thursday report in Roll Call, DeLay's campaign mailed out a nine-page letter in the Sugar Land congressman's home district, which includes much of Fort Bend County, in an effort to blunt allegations about his relationship with Abramoff and campaign contribution-related charges brought against him in Travis County.
The campaign manager for former Democratic congressman Nick Lampson, who's running against DeLay, said the letter amounts to a lie.
Mike Malaise said DeLay "lied to his constituents about his relationship with Jack Abramoff. I don't like using that word and I wish there was a better way to say it, but there isn't. He lied, plain and simple."
Roll Call called DeLay's mass mailing to constituents "a critical move" in DeLay's campaign to gain a 12th term in office. The newspaper quoted sources close to DeLay saying he hopes to raise $9 million for his campaign, while Lampson reportedly intends to raise $5 million.
"A final word on Jack Abramoff: the notion that he was a close friend who wielded influence over me is absolutely untrue," DeLay reportedly wrote in the letter. "As Whip and Majority Leader, I met with many people who brought issues before Congress and sought support of both Republicans and Democrats."
"The reality is, Jack Abramoff and I were not close personal friends," DeLay wrote in the letter. "I met with him only occasionally, in fact less frequently than numerous others who brought issues before Congress – never did he receive preferential treatment. To be certain, I knew nothing about the crimes for which he has pled guilty."
Abramoff pled guilty in early January to federal charges of tax evasion, fraud and conspiracy to bribe public officials.
"Tom Delay didn't forget his trips with Jack Abramoff to exotic locations like St. Andrews golf course in Scotland," Lampson's campaign said in a prepared statement. "It didn't simply slip his mind that the trip to Scotland was paid for by Jack Abramoff's credit card. DeLay is purposely misleading voters. No amount of explanation, rationalization or excuse-making can hide that fact."
"Nick's been hanging out with his Hollywood liberal donors for too long and needs a Texas-sized reality check," said DeLay campaign spokeswoman Shannon Flaherty. "He's lobbing these very nasty, personal attacks at Congressman DeLay for being candid, open, and honest with the voters, while Nick's running around the country with Nancy Pelosi, MoveOn.org, and labor unions, and hiding it from Texas voters."
I didn't get Delay's letter. If anyone wants to forward me a copy, I'll post it.
UPDATE: AP coverage here.