Connecting Money to Political Power: Tom DeLay
The Tom DeLay—TRMPAC indictments tell a very interesting story about Money and Political Power. I believe, whether convicted or not, the indictment of Tom DeLay spells the end of his political power franchise. And that fall will likely take down others who have been using the same tactics as DeLay Inc.
Today’s Austin-Statesman has an Op-Ed, which provided an opening for a discussion of Money and Political power in the context of Tom DeLay.
Royal Masset, a Republican political consultant, maintains in his Op-Ed that Tom DeLay and TRMPAC had “Zero Impact” on the 2002 Texas Legislature election in which Republicans took control of the Texas House.
And even DeLay's personal lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, said, "Tom DeLay changed the face of Texas politics — nobody can deny that."
Well, I do deny that. In fact, DeLay and his committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, or TRMPAC, had no impact on the elections for the Texas House. Their efforts won no state representative his or her seat. None. Zero. Zip. And if TRMPAC did not exist, the Republicans still would have won the same 88 seats in 2002.
This is not an attempt to exonerate DeLay, who has been indicted on criminal charges of money-laundering related to the 2002 election. But his alleged violation has absolutely nothing to do with whether TRMPAC had any impact on the outcome of that election.
You should read the whole analysis. It is excellent. But, Tom Delay’s whole Texas operation was about political power in Washington and the Texas Speaker’s race, not helping individuals win state legislative races.
Tom DeLay’s amalgamation of political funds and committees is all about raising his stature on the national stage through success at increasing the Republican majority in Congress.
He already gives millions of dollars directly to campaigns of Republicans who toe the line in his efforts. Those dollars though don’t do much for increasing the party majority in Congress. They maintain it.
In Texas, DeLay had an opportunity to swing a number of Democrat seats to the Republicans through redistricting. Redistricting takes more than majority control of the chamber, it also takes a Speaker who will pursue and enforce the effort to succeed. TRMPAC was more about Tom Craddick’s effort to become Speaker of the Texas House and Tom DeLay’s ability to claim the success that occurred in Texas in Washington.
In Washington, the increase of Republican control in the House was a clear demonstration of DeLay’s political power. That success solidified the “Hammer” grip on the chamber. Each and every new Republican Congressman from Texas was another vote in the DeLay camp.
For other Congressional Republicans, Tom DeLay looked invincible in intra-party battles because of those additional votes. That kind of invincibility is the stuff of legends, and ultimate political power.
Tom DeLay took political money and power to the next level when he went beyond Federal leadership PACs and national soft money. The big players, those who seek higher leadership offices in D.C. and those who seek to run for national office, have taken note. Being an 800-pound gorilla in your home state politics is considered important, and many presidential candidates and others who aspire to lead Congress have already followed suit. You’ll find many-many leader wannabe’s who are dabbling in Speaker’s races and Governor’s races in the home state for the very same reason.
A month ago, I started a blog, Money in Politics. I was sidetracked by Katrina and Rita, and CNN and Fox over the past few weeks and have not updated that site recently. The site is intends to explore in more detail political power and money. I will restart my postings on that site shortly. But here is a post that summarizes Capitol Junkie’s theory of money and political power.