Saturday, November 26, 2005

Capitol Hill Blue: The con man and his peers

“Everyone knew Tom DeLay was on the take from the day he arrived after the 1984 elections,” says Arnie Wilson, who lobbied Congress for the oil industry from 1974 through 1990. “He had his hand out the day he walked into his office.”

Elizabeth Hastings, who lobbied for health care from 1981 through 1992, remembers asking DeLay for support on an insurance bill in 1986.

“He gave me a laundry list of what he wanted for his vote,” Hastings says. “It included, of course, maximum contributions to his PAC plus a contribution to some obscure fund in Texas and an invitation to speak at our conference that year in Hawaii. He wanted us to fund the trip for himself, his family, and extend the stay for two weeks after our conference ended. I couldn’t afford that kind of commitment and he voted against the bill.”

Some members of Congress are subtle about what it takes to buy their vote. DeLay never was.

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