MSNBC host Chris Matthews seconded Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund's claim that Democrats' refusal to accept a Republican offer to proceed with an investigation into allegations of ethical misconduct by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) indicates that they would rather continue to attack DeLay and the Republican-led House for political gain than offer DeLay a chance to clear his name. After Fund said that Democrats are complaining about "the way the [House ethics] committee is structured" because they want the allegations against DeLay to be "a political issue next year," Matthews agreed that the Democrats "began to pick points" because they "want to keep basting him as he rotates on the rotisserie."
But neither Fund nor Matthews mentioned that Democrats say they turned down an offer by Republicans on the committee to initiate an investigation because Republicans have strongly undermined the committee's ability to initiate investigations of alleged misconduct by House members, including DeLay. As Media Matters for America has noted, Republicans changed ethics committee rules in January in order to grant either party complete power to block a complaint against a fellow party member. They have also replaced two Republican committee members with two other Republican congressmen who have donated to DeLay's legal defense fund.
From the April 21 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
FUND: They've [Democrats] been offered an investigation. But because they don't like the way the committee is structured, they're not taking the offer. I think that indicates they want this to be a political issue next year, because since they don't have a Social Security plan, since they don't have a plan on the budget, they're going to repeat the Republican tactic and run against a corrupt Republican Congress. That's what this is all about.
MATTHEWS: So they want this barbecue to go on all next year?
FUND: They don't want Tom -- they don't want Tom DeLay gone.
MATTHEWS: Right. They want to keep basting him as he rotates on the rotisserie.
FUND: I mean, it's astonishing. They're being offered an investigation and saying, "We don't quite like the way it's packaged."
MATTHEWS: Yes, I thought that was -- [Hardball guest and Newsweek investigative correspondent] Mike [Isikoff], it blew my mind the other day when the Republicans agreed to an ethics investigation and the Democrats began to pick points: "Oh, well, we really don't want that investigation." I thought they really wanted to investigate the guy.