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Liberal groups target GOP's DeLay in TV ads

Refer to probes by ethics panel

WASHINGTON -- Two liberal advocacy groups announced a $100,000 television ad campaign yesterday that portrays House majority leader Tom DeLay as an ethical stain on Congress that must be washed out.

Set to begin airing today, the ads are the latest effort in a bid by DeLay's foes to crank up scrutiny of the Texas Republican, a lightning rod for critics of his party's conservative agenda.

DeLay, admonished last year by the Ethics Committee on three separate matters, has faced questions about foreign trips funded by outside groups and his leading role in obtaining congressional intervention this month in the family feud over brain-damaged Terri Schiavo of Florida.

The Campaign for America's Future and the Public Campaign Action Fund announced a total of four ads against DeLay.

The group said the spots would air in DeLay's congressional district, the Washington, D.C., area, and the districts of three House Republicans, including the Ethics Committee chairman, Doc Hastings of Washington state. They said more ads may air later.

''Tom DeLay. He'd like to wash his hands of corruption," the announcer in one of the ads states before recounting ethical allegations.

''Tom DeLay can't wash his hands of corruption by involving Congress in one family's personal tragedy," the announcer says. ''But Congress can certainly wash its hands of Tom DeLay."

DeLay has denied any wrongdoing.

Yet some Republicans have voiced concerns, particularly about an investigation in Texas that has resulted in the indictment of three of his associates on charges of illegal fund-raising. The prosecutor has said the probe is not over.

If indicted, DeLay, a member of Congress for two decades, would be required to step down as majority leader.

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