(CNSNews.com) - Several liberal groups on Tuesday used the announcement that Republican Rep. Tom DeLay was resigning from Congress to slam the GOP and call for a "clean sweep of Washington."
"We need to dismantle this corrupt House DeLay built over the last decade," said David Donnelly, campaign director for Public Campaign Action Fund. DeLay, plagued by a federal indictment related to a Washington lobbying scandal, announced in January that he would not seek to regain his former position as majority leader. This week, he decided that he would resign from the House altogether.
"This watershed event, Tom DeLay's resignation, was the result of the arrogance and political ambition and political money machine that he helped build," said Roger Hickey, co-director of Campaign for America's Future.
"It was a really ambitious machine that they attempted to build and it was effective in destroying our democracy for quite some time. That is, he and his associates brought themselves down because they attempted to abdicate a lot of the rules of our democracy," Hickey said.
DeLay was indicted by a grand jury last year for allegedly funneling illegal corporate donations into the campaigns of Republican candidates for state representative. DeLay has denied that he broke any laws and the man at the center of the lobbying scandal -- Jack Abramoff -- has not implicated DeLay in the wrongdoing for which Abramoff pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 62 months in prison.
Tony Rudy, DeLay's former deputy chief of staff, has also pleaded guilty to conspiracy and corruption charges, admitting to federal prosecutors that a criminal enterprise was operated out of DeLay's offices.
"The noose is tightening around his neck," said Melanie Sloan, director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "[DeLay] was running a criminal enterprise out of his office. There was no way he did not know what was going on."
"This campaign to connect the cost of corruption to the American people has just begun," Hickey added.
The liberal groups also pointed to what they and Democrats are calling the "Republican culture of corruption," to call for stronger ethics rules. "There are so many corrupt members of Congress. By no means are all of the problems gone," said Sloan.
She said the issue is with Republicans because their majority position gives them more power. "You have to have power to abuse it. You would be foolish to give money to a Democrat because they wouldn't be able to deliver anything," Sloan said.
However, DeLay's successor as House majority leader has risen to his defense. "He has served our nation with integrity and honor, and I'm honored to call him my colleague and friend," said current House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).
"Tom is one of the most effective and gifted leaders the Republican Party has ever known," said Boehner in a statement released Monday. "He was a tireless advocate for his constituents, the state of Texas, and all Americans who shared a commitment to the principles of smaller government, more freedom, and family values.
"The country owes Tom a great debt of gratitude for helping lead America in a new direction, a direction outlined in the Contract with America that saw balanced budgets, historic welfare reforms, lower taxes, regulatory relief, and a renewed respect for the sanctity of life," said Boehner.
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