Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) said yesterday that it "may be a productive move" for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) to step aside while charges against him are investigated, but added that he believes the accusations are "trumped-up charges" by Democrats.
Tancredo issued the statement after the Denver Post quoted him as saying that although he does not favor ousting DeLay, "If he chose to resign as majority leader until these matters are resolved, that's probably not the worst idea."
Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) last weekend called on DeLay to step down, after news reports raised questions about whether lobbyists paid for three overseas trips he took in possible violation of House rules.
House leaders are scrambling to preserve support for DeLay while more and more home-state news outlets are carrying coverage of questions about DeLay's travel and past relationships with lobbyists. DeLay was admonished by the House ethics committee last year on three matters.
Tancredo said in the statement that he believes "that all of the charges against Tom DeLay I have seen to date lack merit."
"I believe they are being leveled in the hopes of bringing him down, and with him, the Republican majority," Tancredo said. "However, if the majority leader were to temporarily step aside so that these trumped-up charges can be dealt with in a less hostile environment, as they have proven to be an unnecessary distraction, it may be a productive move."
Also yesterday, Democratic strategist James Carville went before cameras for the unveiling of the "Tom DeLay's House of Scandal," a Web site of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that offers a state-by-state feature with the label, "How Tangled Up With DeLay Is Your Member?"
The National Republican Congressional Committee issued a statement accusing House Democrats of "press stunt after press stunt" and called the site "a huge waste of time and resources." The statement said the site's existence "makes blatantly apparent the lengths Democrats are willing to go to exploit the ethics issue."