Saturday, October 08, 2005

The money trail that links Tom DeLay and Roy Blunt

The money trail that links Tom DeLay and Roy Blunt

Missouri Representative Roy Blunt, who is filling in for Tom DeLay as majority leader while DeLay is under indictment, owes his rise in the House to the Texas congressman. But he may also one day blame DeLay for his fall, because DeLay appears to have taught him not only how to count votes and woo lobbyists, but arguably how to play fast and loose with campaign finance ethics.

DeLay installed Blunt as his chief deputy whip in 1999 and endorsed him in the whip election of 2002, inducing Speaker Dennis Hastert's rumored choice, Representative Ray LaHood, to withdraw from the race. Blunt has also drawn his key staff people from DeLay veterans, including his deputy chief of staff, Mildred Webber; his director of floor operations, Amy Steinmann; and his press secretary, Jessica Boulanger. Current Blunt advisor Gregg Hartley, who is the vice chairman of Cassidy & Associates and was once Blunt's liaison with K Street, also worked for DeLay.

But in addition, DeLay also initiated Blunt into his fundraising network. In 1999, Blunt set up a leadership political action committee called Rely on Your Beliefs. It had what is called a "non-federal" component that was governed by Missouri, rather than federal, law. Before 2002, other House and Senate members set up these kinds of PACs, which were not subject to federal limits on contributions or rules on disclosure, primarily to win the loyalty of their states' officials, but also to benefit the officials who could receive contributions without the ultimate donors being identified. Starting in 2002,


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