WASHINGTON -- Two political watchdog groups yesterday asked the House ethics committee to appoint an independent counsel to investigate a complaint that House majority leader Tom DeLay traded political contributions for legislative favors.
A spokesman for DeLay, a Texas Republican, said he oppposes the groups' request.
The watchdog groups said an independent investigator is needed because four members of the committee received political contributions from DeLay and because, as the second-highest ranking member of the House, he wields power over them.
"Mr. DeLay's stature as one of the most powerful members of Congress -- with the capacity to extract retribution from anyone -- makes it especially difficult for his peers to sit in judgment of him," Common Cause president Chellie Pingree said. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which helped prepare the complaint against DeLay, also made the request.
Representative Chris Bell, Democrat of Texas, says in the complaint that DeLay illegally solicited and accepted political contributions from Kansas-based
DeLay has said Bell is bitter over losing his reelection primary.