The Times Reporter

October 5, 2005

Elusive group targets Regula, other Republicans

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON - A group calling itself "We the People" has been delivering recorded telephone messages to homes across the country, including in Reps. Ralph Regula's and Bob Ney's congressional districts, urging residents to tell their Republican congressman to return any donations received from indicted House Republican leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

GOP officials are trying to track down the elusive group. Democratic Party operatives deny any knowledge of the campaign.

Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, has no plans to return the $533 that campaign records show he received in 1998.

"Why would I return it?" said Regula, who himself took one of the phone calls Sunday. "It was perfectly legal. He wasn't in trouble in 1998."

Ney, R-Heath, did not say whether he would return the $11,552 he has received from DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority political action committee since 1998.

But Ney's spokesman, Brian Walsh, issued a statement saying the calls "appear to be another step in an ongoing and coordinated effort by the (Democratic) Congressional Campaign Committee to use shadowy outside groups and unregulated political contributions to win back control of the House in 2006 through disinformation and negative attacks."

DeLay was indicted last week and again Monday in connection with what prosecutors describe as a scheme to skirt Texas law, which prohibits use of corporate money in state campaigns. According to the charges, corporate donations were collected in Texas, sent to the Republican National Committee in Washington and then given to Republican candidates in Texas in 2002.

DeLay has proclaimed his innocence and insists his resignation as House majority leader is temporary.

While the charges against DeLay relate to a political fund based in Texas, DeLay made contributions to Regula, Ney and other GOP lawmakers through a separate political action committee in Washington, D.C.

Regula blasted Democrats for trying to taint him and other lawmakers for their association with DeLay.

"I think it's a desperation act," he said. "They can't deal with the issues so they're trying to link us to Tom DeLay. That's like linking every Democrat to Bill Clinton, who had a lot more serious charge," he said of the former president who was impeached by the House of Representatives but acquitted by the Senate.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which supports Democratic House campaigns, has no knowledge of "We the People" or connection to the phone campaign, spokesman Bill Burton said.

Nevertheless, the DCCC issued a call Tuesday for Republican lawmakers to "return DeLay's dirty money."

Ed Patru, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, shot back that the DCCC's chairman, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., already set a precedent when he chose not to return a contribution to an indicted supporter until that supporter pleaded guilty.