Cherchez la femme

On the plane out to Durham for my talk at Duke this evening at 6:00 p.m. (LSRC Building — seats still free and available!), I caught up with the news section of the past week’s Wall Street Journal. Brody Mullins’s long, interesting March 31 story — “Behind unraveling of DeLay’s team, a jilted fiancee” — on Emily Miller, the woman who appears to have been a resource for the prosection in the charges against Jack Abramoff — may have provided a preview of one of the factors behind Rep. DeLay’s decision to stand down for reelection. The story begins with the romantic relationship between Michael Scanlon and Emily Miller, two former DeLay aides who became engaged, and the working relationship between aides in Rep. DeLay’s office and Jack Abramoff:

The story of the star-crossed Capitol Hill romance — and its repercussions in national politics — begins in 1997, when Mr. Scanlon arrived in Rep. DeLay’s office as press secretary. There he worked closely with Mr. [Tony] Rudy [another aide]. Both press aides were veterans of Republican politics and eager sportsmen. Mr. Scanlon, a native of suburban Washington, could run five miles in under 30 minutes, while Mr. Rudy, of Brooklyn, N.Y., played in an amateur ice-hockey league.

The two shared a pit-bull political style and pushed Mr. DeLay to lead the charge in 1998 for the impeachment of President Clinton. “This whole thing about not kicking someone when they are down is B.S.,” Mr. Scanlon once wrote to Mr. Rudy in an email published in “The Breach,” a book by Peter Baker about the impeachment. “Not only do you kick him — you kick him until he passes out — then beat him over the head with a baseball bat — then roll him up in an old rug — and throw him off a cliff into the pound surf below!!!!!”

The two staffers often lent a hand to Mr. Abramoff, according to court documents and former colleagues. The lobbyist helped Mr. DeLay raise millions of dollars. Mr. Abramoff frequently treated Mr. DeLay to dinner at his sushi restaurant on Capitol Hill and took the congressman on trips overseas. Mr. Abramoff spoiled Mr. DeLay’s aides, too, taking them on trips to casinos and golf courses owned by his clients, according to travel disclosure forms.

The aides returned the favor. In the fall of 1998, Mr. Abramoff wanted to help a Republican, Joe Ada, get elected as governor in Guam, even though he was trailing incumbent Gov. Carl Gutierrez badly in the polls.

Just after lunch on Oct. 26, 1998, Mr. Abramoff emailed Mr. Rudy: “We want to know if there is anyway to get Tom to call for an investigation of the misuse of federal funds on Guam by this governor,” he wrote in a message reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Abramoff said he would draft a statement for Mr. DeLay and suggested that if Mr. Rudy could “issue a press release and letter requesting an Inspector General (I guess from Interior?) to investigate these matters, it should have a major impact on the election next week.”

Within a few hours, Messrs. Rudy and Scanlon released a statement from Mr. DeLay and a letter to the Department of the Interior’s inspector general calling for a federal investigation into the Democratic governor. “The allegations and materials I reviewed point to serious corruption” by the governor, Mr. DeLay said in the letter.

Despite their efforts, Mr. Ada lost the race, and the department didn’t conduct an investigation. After leaving office, Mr. Gutierrez was tried on corruption charges but acquitted on all counts. Mr. DeLay’s spokeswoman said he declined to comment. Mr. Rudy’s lawyer didn’t return phone calls.

I hadn’t seen any of this before and found it of interest in light of the news regarding Rep. DeLay’s decision to step down. At the Weekly Standard site, Matthew Continetti makes related observations: “Nothing to see here.”

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