Tuesday, April 04, 2006

DeLay May Be Gone But Can't Be Forgotten

by Kyle Michaelis
House Republican leader Tom DeLay, who stepped down from his leadership post just a few months ago promising to return to power as soon as charges of corruption were dropped, has instead announced that he will no longer be seeking re-election and will, in fact, be resigning from office entirely. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Still, the damage DeLay has done to Congress and the integrity of our democracy is not undone by his stepping down. Nor does the cloud of corruption his Republican underlings invited into Nebraska's borders suddenly disappear. Any Nebraskans who care about good and honest government cannot afford to forget that their own representatives, Republican Congressmen Jeff Fortenberry and Lee Terry, have played a part in, lent their support to, and directly benefitted from DeLay's dirty dealings.

As has become part of the myth about vampires, you have to invite them in for their evil to take root. DeLay - like a real-life vampire feeding off of lobbyists' money and voters' faith in government - was invited into Nebraska politics by Fortenberry and Terry, who delighted in the ill-gotten gains he funneled into their own campaigns. They also proved more than willing - ecstatic, in fact - to swear allegiance and vote with near total loyalty to DeLay's insanely partisan agenda.

By their votes and by their deeds, Fortenberry and Terry have proven themselves Tom DeLay Republicans. His sin is their sin. And, if DeLay were capable of shame, Fortenberry and Terry would share in that as well.

For this, they owe the voters of Nebraska an apology....just as the Republican Party owes one to the entire country. Instead of owning up to their complicity in DeLay's crimes, though, they are more likely to run away from DeLay's legacy as if all were forgiven and forgotten. We can't let that be - not until the Republican Congress has accepted responsibility or finally been held accountable by the voters.

The need for reform does not end with Tom DeLay. Nor does the reach of corruption thoughout the Republican Congress. You need look no further than the $4,000 Fortenberry took from former Congressman, traitor, and admitted felon Duke Cunningham's Political Action Committee. That money was soaked in the blood of democracy. Fortenberry may have donated it to charity to try and relieve the stench it brought into our state, but the stain it left on his hands and his leadership cannot be so easily washed away.

DeLay's guilt is Fortenberry's guilt. DeLay's guilt is Terry's guilt. They have taken his money. They have followed his lead. This November, voters should rise up and see that they follow him one last time . . . into an early retirement.


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