Dems Target DeLay's 'Dirty Money'

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

( - Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) faces two indictments from a Texas prosecutor -- a Democrat who is out to get him, DeLay says.

But those indictments already are yielding political dividends for Democrats, who are demanding that Republican members of Congress return DeLay's "tainted money."

An email message circulated by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Tuesday urges Americans to make sure their Republican representatives return campaign contributions that have flowed from DeLay's fund-raising efforts.

"The first step towards defeating DeLay is dismantling the money machine that has kept him afloat; to isolate him from the rubberstamps he's funneled his tainted money to for so long," said the DCCC message.

"Tell...Republicans to return DeLay's dirty money."

The message says House Republicans "have supported and benefited" from the culture of "pay-to-play politics and lobbyist-driven legislating" that DeLay put in place. That culture puts special interests first -- at the expense of middle class families and the nation, the message said.

Some observers note that the indictments against DeLay rest on insubstantial legal ground; and of course, he is innocent until proven guilty.

But the regardless of where the indictments lead, they're enough to fire up the Democrats' political fund-raising machine.

Out of 231 Republicans in the House, the DCCC said a "staggering" 218 have taken DeLay's money -- and so have "newly recruited" Republican candidates. "So there's only one way for them to show that things have changed in any way whatsoever," the DCCC said, and that is to return "DeLay's dirty money."

"The least they can do is run their 2006 campaigns without continuing to capitalize on the culture of corruption DeLay has cultivated."

DeLay's indictments are "just the latest in a growing laundry list of scandals," the DCCC said. The message listed some of those "scandals," then said Americans "deserve better than this culture of corruption."

The message urges Americans to "help the DCCC change the leadership in Washington."

Sucking money out of Republican campaigns -- based on unproven charges against a leading Republican -- appears to be a key tactic in achieving that goal.

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