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Friday, April 08, 2005

Did Johnson overlook a DeLay violation?

Hey Maloney, are you taking notes?

Back in 1995, the year of the Republican "revolution" that brought his brother to power, Randy DeLay first turned up as a lobbyist employed by Cemex, the Mexican cement monopoly suspected of illegal economic "dumping" of its product in the United States. He joined with the powerhouse Texas law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski to protect Cemex from sanctions. Meanwhile, Tom DeLay wrote articles and circulated letters among his congressional colleagues, urging the Commerce Department to refrain from punishing Cemex for trade violations.

In the usual course of congressional procedure, the House Ethics Committee -- then chaired by Rep. Nancy Johnson, R-Conn. -- applied a fine coat of whitewash to this apparent violation, ultimately dismissing the complaint against DeLay. But a question still lingered: Why would Cemex, represented by one of the best-connected and most skillful lobbying law firms in the country, require the costly services of a two-bit Houston lawyer like Randy DeLay?