National Review Washington editor and CNN Capital Gang panelist Kate O'Beirne attempted to defend House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) against the charge that he "abused his power" when he directed the Department of Homeland Security to trace the airplane of a state legislator who fled Texas to thwart a quorum during a 2003 redistricting dispute. O'Beirne falsely claimed on the November 20 edition of CNN's Capital Gang that "the inspector general had an investigation and said that didn't happen!" But the inspectors general from the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and Transportation did not investigate DeLay, so they could not -- and did not -- exonerate him of abuse of power, as O'Beirne claimed.
From the November 20 edition of Capital Gang:
MARK SHIELDS, host: This is a man who used his power and abused his power to direct Homeland Security -- protecting us from foreign threats -- to trace down a legislator in Texas? I mean that was a real --
O'BEIRNE: They found he didn't! The inspector general had an investigation and said that didn't happen!
SHIELDS: That's what the ethics committee reprimanded him for.
AL HUNT, panelist: Kate, you deal with half-truths.
The inspectors general investigating the incident focused on the actions of their particular agencies in responding to DeLay's request -- not on those of DeLay or his staff -- and found that no department employees had broken the law. Though DeLay (and now O'Beirne) attempted to spin these findings into an exoneration of his actions, the one body with the authority to investigate DeLay -- the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct -- admonished DeLay for this very behavior. In its October 6 letter to DeLay, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct noted that while DeLay "assert[ed] that the Inspector General of the U.S Department of Transportation (DOT IG) found no wrongdoing in this matter ... [i]t is the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, and not the Transportation Committee, that has the jurisdiction to make determinations regarding the official conduct of House Members and staff." In the letter, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct warned DeLay:
Your actions that are addressed in this letter, as well as those addressed in the Committee's decision of last week and in prior Committee actions, are all ones that, in a broad sense, were directed to the advancement of your legislative agenda. Those actions are also ones that your peers who sit on this Committee determined, after careful consideration, went beyond the bounds of acceptable conduct.