Reps. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.) and Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), the panel’s chairman and ranking member, respectively, now have until early September to decide if their panel will take up a complaint against DeLay that was filed by Rep. Chris Bell (D-Texas).
On Thursday, DeLay filed a lengthy response to Bell’s complaint — a massive filing that one GOP insider described as a call for the ethics panel to dismiss Bell’s “invalid, illegitimate and politically motivated” complaint.
Bell has alleged that DeLay illegally solicited campaign contributions in return for favorable legislation, misused a Texas political action committee to improperly funnel corporate donations to Texas state candidates, and abused his office.
DeLay and his GOP supporters have vehemently denied the charges.
The ethics committee was scheduled to release a statement tonight or early tomorrow announcing its decision, but no statement was released by press time.
In the meantime, the ethics committee is also continuing its investigation into whether GOP lawmakers improperly pressured Rep. Nick Smith (R-Mich.) during a Nov. 22 vote on Medicare reform legislation, said House insiders. The panel now hopes to complete that investigation by the end of September, although it is unclear when Hefley and Mollohan expect to have a final disposition in that case.
Supposedly, the Ethics Committee put off the matter for 45 days. By my count, since that happened on July 23, they hit the 45-day deadline last Tuesday. I don’t see anything new in Google News related to the panel reconvening, so I guess it was more flexible than you’d think. If anyone knows anything more about this, please drop me a note. Thanks to AJ Garcia for the reminder.
UPDATE: Looks like the Ethics Committee will meet Wednesday, and their deadline is next week. Thanks to rpreston in the comments, who saw this tidbit on the Quorum Report.