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Rep. DeLay acknowledges failure to report defense fund donations

Oct. 27, 2005

by LARRY MARGASAK, the Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Tom DeLay has notified House officials that he failed to disclose all contributions to his legal defense fund as required by congressional rules.

The fund is paying DeLay's legal bills in a campaign finance investigation in Texas, where DeLay has been indicted, and in a federal investigation of Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The lobbyist arranged foreign travel for DeLay and had his clients pay some of the cost.

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DeLay
DeLay, R-Texas, has denied wrongdoing in both cases. He wrote House officials that he started an audit, and it found $20,850 contributed in 2000 and 2001 to the defense fund was not reported anywhere.

An additional $17,300 was included in the defense fund's quarterly report but not in DeLay's 2000 annual financial disclosure report -- a separate requirement. Other donations were understated as totaling $2,800 when the figure should have been $4,450.

House rules require quarterly reports of donations and expenditures by a lawmaker's legal defense fund. Donations exceeding $250 also must be disclosed on annual financial disclosure reports.

The Texas Republican, who has stepped down as majority leader due to felony indictments in the Texas probe, disclosed and corrected the past reporting mistakes.

The defense fund will report to the House in a few days that it received $318,000 in the third quarter of this year -- the best fundraising quarter since it was started in June 2000, according to the trustee, attorney Brent Perry.

On Oct. 13 DeLay wrote the clerk of the House, Jeff Trandahl, that the first inkling of inconsistencies in his disclosures came last February.

"I brought this matter ... to the attention of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to alert the chairman and ranking member," DeLay said in his letter.