Ignoring guilty pleas, Hume misled on DeLay staff scandals

››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN

In an interview with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), Brit Hume misleadingly claimed that the scandal involving former lobbyist and DeLay associate Jack Abramoff has resulted in "charges against one of" DeLay's former aides and "possibly against a second." In fact, two former DeLay staffers have pleaded guilty to felonies in connection with the Abramoff scandal, and a third former DeLay staffer is reportedly under investigation.

In an interview with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) on the April 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Fox News Washington managing editor Brit Hume misleadingly claimed that the scandal involving former lobbyist and DeLay associate Jack Abramoff has resulted in "charges against one of" DeLay's former aides and "possibly against a second." In fact, two former DeLay staffers have pleaded guilty to felonies in connection with the Abramoff scandal, and a third former DeLay staffer is reportedly under investigation.

Later during the same interview, Hume asked DeLay if he felt "some sense of responsibility" for "the activities of a couple of your former aides." DeLay responded: "Yeah, obviously. They worked for me." He then added, with no further explanation: "[O]bviously, he pled guilty to it."

In a report earlier in the show, Fox News congressional correspondent Brian Wilson noted that "two of DeLay's former aides have been swept up in the growing Abramoff lobbying scandal" but did not inform viewers they had, in fact, already pleaded guilty.

On November 21, 2005, former DeLay press secretary and Abramoff lobbying partner Michael Scanlon pleaded guilty to conspiring with Abramoff to bribe public officials.

On March 31, former DeLay deputy chief of staff and Abramoff associate Tony C. Rudy pleaded guilty to conspiring with Abramoff to commit fraud. In his plea agreement, Rudy admitted that while working in DeLay's House leadership office, "he received money and other things of value from or at the direction of Abramoff and others, including $86,000 in payments to Liberty Consulting [a firm founded by Rudy and run by his wife, Lisa Rudy], tickets to sporting events, meals, golf and golf trips. During the same period, defendant RUDY routinely performed official acts for or at the behest of Abramoff and others, which were motivated in part by the things of value he received."

Rudy's plea agreement also reportedly implicated former DeLay chief of staff and Abramoff associate Edwin A. Buckham, whom the agreement referred to as "Lobbyist B." According to the plea agreement, while Rudy was working in DeLay's office, "Liberty Consulting received payments for service to be performed by his wife. As Rudy knew, Lobbyist B shared some clients with Abramoff. Rudy made the arrangements for payments through Abramoff and Lobbyist B." In an April 5 article, The New York Times reported that Buckham "was among Mr. DeLay's closest associates, and the Justice Department is seeking to build a conspiracy case against him [Buckham], people involved in the case said."

On April 3, DeLay announced that he would resign from the House of Representatives and would not seek re-election.

During the same Special Report interview, Hume referenced the fact that DeLay is under indictment in Texas on money-laundering charges. Referring to Travis County district attorney Ronnie Earle -- the prosecutor who secured the Texas indictment -- Hume told DeLay: "The sense here in Washington was that the Ronnie Earle charges against you might well fall and fail and that he didn't have all that much credibility in Texas." Hume cited no evidence to support this assertion and did not elaborate further.

From the April 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:

WILSON: DeLay won his GOP primary last month, but his continuing legal battles with Travis County district attorney Ronnie Earle and the fact that two of DeLay's former aides have been swept up in the growing Abramoff lobbying scandal provided Democratic opponent Nick Lampson with ammunition for what was shaping up to be a brutal fall campaign battle.

[...]

HUME: The sense here in Washington was that the Ronnie Earle charges against you might well fall and fail and that he didn't have all that much credibility in Texas.

DELAY: Right.

HUME: But that the scandal involving the lobbyist and your former associate Jack Abramoff, and now the charges against one of your former aides and possibly against a second, was a different matter entirely. Was that how you read it as well in terms of the politics of it?

DELAY: Well, the Abramoff stuff -- I was being tarred with the brush of guilty by association. I had nothing to do with the Abramoff affair, I've done nothing wrong. It's disappointing, and I'm very disappointed in what had went on. But it had nothing to do with me. The Department of Justice had told my lawyers I'm not a target of the investigations.

[...]

HUME: Let me just take you back if I can to the activities of a couple of your former aides. Do you feel some sense of responsibility that they took the turn that they took?

DELAY: Yeah, obviously. They worked for me. When you're in the leadership office, it's a whirlwind every day. And you hire people and trust them because you've given them great responsibility to make certain decisions. And, yeah, it's very disappointing that that trust was misused, and -- obviously, he pled guilty to it.

Posted In
Government, Ethics
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Brit Hume
Show/Publication
Special Report with Brit Hume
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Tom DeLay Scandal
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