Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Party, said yesterday that the US House majority leader, Tom DeLay, ''ought to go back to Houston where he can serve his jail sentence," referring to allegations of unethical conduct against the Republican leader.
Dean's remark, in a speech to Massachusetts Democrats at their party convention, drew an immediate rebuke from US Representative Barney Frank, the Newton Democrat and one of DeLay's harshest critics. ''That's just wrong," Frank said in an interview on the convention floor. ''I think Howard Dean was out of line talking about DeLay. The man has not been indicted. I don't like him, I disagree with some of what he does, but I don't think you, in a political speech, talk about a man as a criminal or his jail sentence."
DeLay faces accusations he may have violated House rules by taking foreign trips paid for by lobbyists. In a separate case, a Texas grand jury indicted three fund-raisers with ties to DeLay on accusations of campaign-finance irregularities.
Dean, the former Vermont governor, lost his bid for the Democratic nomination to Senator John F. Kerry.
RAPHAEL LEWIS AND FRANK PHILLIPS