(CNSNews.com) - While liberal groups press their attack on House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, his fellow Republicans continue defending him and DeLay accuses the liberal media of joining the political effort to embarrass him.
In a "Dear Member" email sent Wednesday, the liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org wrote, "It is time to fire Tom DeLay as House Majority Leader."
And the "progressive" Campaign for America's Future is running ads saying that "Tom DeLay can't wash his hands of corruption...but Congress can certainly wash its hands of Tom DeLay." The group also produced a new, full-page newspaper ad questioning DeLay's standards.
The MoveOn.org message points to Wednesday's articles in the Washington Post and the New York Times, each breaking "new scandals" involving DeLay.
According to the New York Times, DeLay's political action and campaign committees paid his wife and daughter more than $500,000 over the last four years for their work on behalf of his campaign.
DeLay told CNN on Wednesday there's nothing wrong with it: "My wife and daughter have any right, just like any other American, to be employed and be compensated for their employment." He called it "disgusting" for the media to single out his wife and daughter when other lawmakers do the exact same thing with their relatives.
And Thursday's Washington Post quoted a lawyer who said that under federal election rules, "It's clearly legal to pay relatives provided they provide services at the going rate."
The MoveOn.org message also refers to a Washington Post article that ran on Wednesday. That article said DeLay's 1997 trip to Moscow was not paid for by a nonprofit group, as DeLay thought it was - but rather by "business interests lobbying in support of the Russian government."
DeLay told CNN that he accepted money from a legitimate organization and reported the trip, just as the rules require. Lawyers quoted by the Washington Post said indeed DeLay did not break any rules - because it's not up to him to research where the nonprofit got the money for the trip.
In case the two Wednesday newspaper reports aren't enough, MoveOn.org details other "legal and ethical scandals" involving DeLay - and it criticizes his "grandstanding" on the Terri Schiavo tragedy, describing DeLay's "political opportunism" as the "straw that broke the camel's back" for the "great majority of the country."
MoveOn.org tells its members that even some Republicans in Congress (and the Wall Street Journal's editorial page) are speaking out against DeLay, but that most are "too scared of his powerful network of corporate donors" to cross him.
"We need to show all of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, that if they stand up to Tom DeLay, we've got their back," the message concludes.
It urges people to sign a petition urging Congress to remove DeLay from his leadership post.
The coordinated liberal effort to "get DeLay" - a conservative who gets results on Capitol Hill -- has prompted Republican leaders to once again voice their support for him.
Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told reporters on Wednesday that a lot of Republicans appreciate the fact that DeLay is "taking arrows for all of us."
DeLay has not been charged with breaking any laws, although the House Ethics Committee admonished him three times last year for creating the appearance of impropriety.
At the time, DeLay accused Democrats of using the House Ethics Committee for partisan ends.
"For years, Democrats have hurled relentless personal attacks at me, hoping to tie my hands and smear my name. All have fallen short, not because of insufficient venom but because of insufficient merit," DeLay said in a statement last October.
It's the agenda, not the ethics
Conservative leader and political analyst Paul Weyrich has written about the "large target" on DeLay's back, given his success in defeating the liberal agenda.
"What has really gotten DeLay in such trouble these days are two public statements," Weyrich wrote on March 14. "First, the majority leader said he was "dedicated to ending the practice of abortion as we know it." And second, DeLay said the federal courts must be reigned in.
Although many other lawmakers have said similar things, the difference is that DeLay means it -- and is in a position to do something about it, Weyrich wrote. "Liberals know this but they are determined to stop him before he destroys their ideological playground."
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