The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s web site lets readers find links between their own congressmembers and GOP House leader Tom DeLay, though some of the connections stretch credulity.

A Democratic Party Web site permits people to check out what links their local members of the U.S. House of Representatives have with Tom DeLay.

Whether the information provided proves anything, though, is subjective.

The site, at www.houseofscandal.org/members/NV.html, is a production of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), a group formed by Democrats in the House to collect campaign money for themselves. The Web site allows readers to go to a listing of House members from their home states and find out whether they have been involved with DeLay.

The site does not distinguish between mere political involvement with DeLay and actual involvement in the ethics issues that have resulted in investigations of DeLay.

For instance, the DCCC site says of two Nevada congressmembers: “Jim Gibbons has taken $3,602 from Tom DeLay’s ARMPAC [Americans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee]. … Jon Porter has taken $25,000.”

But so did Rep. Rob Simmons of Connecticut, a Republican who is a critic of DeLay’s. Simmons received $29,500 from DeLay’s ARMPAC, but he has still kept his distance from DeLay, putting out a statement pointing out that he has voted differently than DeLay on ecology, Medicare, Teresa Schiavo and other issues.

The site also uses a technique of identifying Republican members of Congress with DeLay by pointing out that they voted alike. The DCCC Web site says that Porter voted with DeLay “90 percent of the time between Jan. 1, 2004, and March 31, 2005,” and Gibbons voted with him 93 percent of the time in the same period. But most congressional votes are on routine or uncontroversial matters, and there is a good chance that Democrats would also have voted with DeLay most of the time. Significantly, the site allows readers to check up on only Republican House members, not Democrats.

The technique of identifying politicians with the voting records of controversial figures has long been used against Democrats, who previously disdained it. (During the McCarthy era, for instance, Republicans often accused Democrats of voting with a leftist congressman from New York, Vito Marcantonio, who was elected as a member of the American Labor Party. In 1950, Richard Nixon, running for the Senate in California against Democratic incumbent Helen Douglas, produced a leaflet printed on pink paper—an implication that Douglas was a communist sympathizer—that accused Douglas of voting with Marcantonio 354 times.)

Other information provided by the DCCC sticks closer to substantive issues, though even then, legislation is described in simplistic and emotionally loaded terms, as in, “Jim Gibbons voted to weaken the ethics rules in a move that many say served only to protect Tom DeLay. … When Democrats offered a solution to clean up the House by strengthening ethics rules, Jim Gibbons voted to make sure it never even came to an up or down vote.”

However, there’s not necessarily anything wrong with opposing an up and down vote on something in Congress, as the Democrats on the other side of the U.S. Capitol have made clear in trying to prevent clear up and down floor votes on George Bush’s judgeship nominations in the Senate.

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Dennis Myers

Dennis Myers was the news editor of the Reno News & Review. He was a journalist for more than four decades. In 1987-88 he was chief deputy secretary of state of Nevada. He was coauthor of Uniquely...