Captain's Quarters Blog

« Scandale Des Commandites | Main | Arab Oppression The Fault Of US, Israel? »

April 6, 2005
NYT Plays Numbers Games With DeLay

The headline certainly sounds damning: "Political Groups Paid Two Relatives Of House Leader", a bold-type come-on that attracts the eye nicely. Philip Shenon's lead paragraph presses the case even more urgently, using a nice, large sum to get the readers' attention. But once one reads past the first couple of paragraphs -- and uses their elementary-school math -- one realizes that not only does the Gray Lady have nothing unusual to report, but that she's playing games with the numbers.

Let's take a look at the lead first:

The wife and daughter of Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, have been paid more than $500,000 since 2001 by Mr. DeLay's political action and campaign committees, according to a detailed review of disclosure statements filed with the Federal Election Commission and separate fund-raising records in Mr. DeLay's home state, Texas.

Most of the payments to his wife, Christine A. DeLay, and his only child, Dani DeLay Ferro, were described in the disclosure forms as "fund-raising fees," "campaign management" or "payroll," with no additional details about how they earned the money. The payments appear to reflect what Mr. DeLay's aides say is the central role played by the majority leader's wife and daughter in his political career.

Mr. DeLay's national political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority, or Armpac, said in a statement on Tuesday that the two women had provided valuable services to the committee in exchange for the payments: "Mrs. DeLay provides big picture, long-term strategic guidance and helps with personnel decisions. Ms. Ferro is a skilled and experienced professional event planner who assists Armpac in arranging and organizing individual events."

Mrs. Ferro has managed several of her father's re-election campaigns for his House seat.

Sounds pretty damning, doesn't it? Half a million dollars to his wife and "child" amounts to a nice lump of cash. The NYT makes this sound like a gross violation of either the law or House ethics, as if family members never serve as paid employees or consultants to Congressional PACs. Except that in the very next paragraph, we find out that the exact opposite is the case:

Although several members of Congress employ family members as campaign managers or on their political action committees, advocacy groups seeking an overhaul of federal campaign-finance and ethics laws say that the payments to Mr. DeLay's family members were unusually generous, and should be the focus of new scrutiny of the Texas congressman.

Oh, okay. Now the problem isn't that DeLay hired his wife and daughter -- it's that they were overpaid, at least according to "advocacy groups". Let's take a look at that, then, although now we have to skip down three more paragraphs:

The payments to Mr. DeLay's family have continued into 2005; the latest monthly disclosure filed by Americans for a Republican Majority shows Mrs. DeLay was paid was paid $4,028 last month, while Mrs. Ferro received $3,681. Earlier statements show that the two women received similar monthly fees from the political action committee throughout 2003 and 2004.

At that rate, Mrs. DeLay makes about $48,250 a year, while Mrs. Ferro earns closer to $40,000. At that rate over four years, the two of them put together would have made around $350,000. The remainder of the half-million comes from Mrs. Ferro's consulting firm which works on DeLay's election campaigns; it received $221,000 over four years (two election cycles), or about $55,000 a year.

Now let's take a look at a couple of other examples, buried even farther into the Times article:

Republican lawmakers can point to prominent Democrats whose campaign and political action committees have provided lucrative jobs or consulting contracts to family members. Representative Howard L. Berman of California, the ranking Democrat on the House ethics committee from 1997 to 2003, paid $50,000 from his campaign accounts last year to a consulting firm owned by his brother, according to disclosure forms. Disclosure statements also show that Senator Barbara Boxer, another California Democrat, directed $15,000 from her political action committee in 2003 to a consulting firm run by her son.

So even the amounts are not terribly unusual, especially given the Berman example -- and I don't recall the Times writing big headlines out of Berman's hiring practices. All we have is Philip Shenon using aggregate numbers to paint a misleading picture of Tom DeLay doing what other Congressmen and Senators do in hiring their families for staff members and consultants.

Don't get me wrong. I think the practice itself is a problem, one that we should pressure our representatives to end. It can lead to back-door corruption far too easily. However, for the Times and the Left to jump all over DeLay as unethical and singular in this practice is dishonest, ignorant, and transparently partisan.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 6, 2005 5:50 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry is

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference NYT Plays Numbers Games With DeLay:

» Tit for Tat from nosey online
I've been doing a lot of reading this morning, trying to get to the bottom of something that began a few days ago. Over the weekend, I started to see some performance issues with noseyonline. Since I really haven't been... [Read More]

Tracked on April 6, 2005 8:27 AM

[Read More]

Tracked on April 6, 2005 12:37 PM

» LA Times/AP: Liberal Calif. Dem. Congr. Maxine Waters and allegations of substantial financial gains for family members from rand holman's THE DAILY POLEMIC
This is either ridiculously convenient . . . or just plain ridiculous. Having never been a fan of Maxine Waters and her aggressive, always in your face Liberal jams, I will do a Phil Donahue and say that I am not displeased with what is apparently bein... [Read More]

Tracked on May 31, 2005 1:29 PM

Design & Skinning by:
m2 web studios

blog advertising


Proud Ex-Pat Member of the Bear Flag League!