Weekly Standard executive editor and FOX News contributor Fred Barnes dismissed the House Ethics Committee's recent admonishment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) as "ridiculous" and "a widespread Democratic effort to persecute Tom DeLay." On the January 4 edition of FOX News' Special Report with Brit Hume, Barnes misleadingly summarized the complaints lodged against the congressman, saying, "he was a part of some golf tournament where people were there who had some legislation they were interested in on the [Capitol] Hill."
The House Ethics Committee, which includes an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, admonished DeLay for two separate incidents: In the first incident, DeLay did not meet lobbyists at a golf tournament simply by chance, as Barnes suggested. The second incident, as the letter of admonishment stated, involved "intervention in a partisan conflict in the Texas House of Representatives using the resources of a Federal agency."
Media Matters for America has previously exposed Barnes and the "FOX All-Star Panel" abusing the facts to cover for DeLay.
Regarding the golf tournament, DeLay's own political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority (ARMPAC), hosted the tournament as a fundraiser. The participants were exclusively energy executives with a keen interest in the results of the upcoming House-Senate conference on a large package of energy legislation. DeLay himself served as an influential member of the conference committee. The admonishment, signed by committee chair Joel Hefley (R-CO) and ranking member Alan Mollohan (D-WV), stated:
In particular, there was the timing of the fundraiser, i.e., it took place just as the House-Senate conference on major energy legislation, H.R. 4, was about to get underway. Indeed, one of the communications between organizers of the fundraiser that you provided to us -- an e-mail of May 30, 2002 from Mr. [Drew] Maloney [a lobbyist and a former DeLay staffer] to Mr. [Chris] Perkins [staffer for ARMPAC] that notes the legislative interests of each of the attendees -- includes a specific reference to the conference. That legislation was of critical importance to the attendees. In addition, there was the fact that you were in a position to significantly influence the conference, both as a member of the House leadership and, by action taken about a week and a half after the fundraiser, your appointment as one of the conferees.
In the second incident, the committee admonished DeLay for using the Federal Aviation Administration to track down Democratic legislators who fled Texas in an effort to thwart Republican state legislators' efforts to redraw the state's congressional district map to ensure a Republican majority in the state delegation. The committee wrote: "This action raises serious concerns under House standards of conduct that preclude use of governmental resources for a political undertaking."