Fox's Angle promoted discredited allegation against Tubbs Jones to cast Democrats as hypocritical on ethics charges

Fox News senior Washington correspondent Jim Angle revived the discredited claim that lobbyists funded a 2001 trip by House ethics committee member Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) to Puerto Rico and compared the allegations to the ethics controversies surrounding House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX). Angle noted that Jones says the charge is untrue, but then suggested Democrats are hypocritical for criticizing DeLay, quoting a “former Republican leadership aide” saying that “Democrats are far less forgiving when it comes to Tom DeLay.”

From the April 21 edition of Special Report with Brit Hume:

ANGLE: Another lawmaker on the trip, Ohio Democrat Stephanie Tubbs Jones, who serves on the ethics committee, filed a report saying a lobbying firm paid for the trip, which is a violation of House ethics rules. ... Tubbs Jones's office says her original report on the trip four years ago was simply a mistake. A new report was filed today. A former Republican leadership aide argues the Democrats are far less forgiving when it comes to Tom DeLay, and he says they may not really want an investigation of the Republican leader.

While Angle suggested that Democrats have been “forgiving” of Tubbs Jones, he did not explain what actions of hers would require forgiveness. As Media Matters for America has noted, though The Washington Times reported that disclosure forms filed by Tubbs Jones originally listed a lobbying firm as the funder for the Puerto Rico trip, the same article also strongly suggested that this disclosure was nothing more than a clerical mistake. The Times article noted that a Tubbs Jones spokeswoman said the listing of the lobbying firm was the result of “human error,” and reported that a managing partner at the lobbying firm “denied that his firm paid for Mrs. Jones' travel,” adding: “He offered to place his hand on the Bible.” Furthermore, the Times noted that other House members on the same trip listed the advocacy organization Todo Puerto Rico con Vieques -- not the lobbying firm -- as the trip's sponsor. Unlike lobbying firms, “private groups, such as Todo Puerto Rico con Vieques ... are allowed to fund trips,” the Times noted.

According to the Times article, the total cost of Tubbs Jones's trip was $3,366. In comparison, the Washington Post reported that more than $230,000 of the cost of DeLay's trips to South Korea, Britain, and Moscow may have been financed directly or indirectly by registered lobbyists or a foreign agent, a violation of House ethics rules. The Washington Post reported on April 24 that the airfare for the Britain trip was charged to a credit card issued to lobbyist Jack Abramoff and that another registered lobbyist, a former chief of staff to DeLay, paid other expenses related to the trip.