Thursday, March 2, 2006
AUSTIN, March 1 -- Prosecutors have asked a travel agency to turn over records on a trip to Britain that Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), then the House majority leader, took in 2000 with lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
A subpoena issued Wednesday seeks documents on travel services bought by the now-disgraced Abramoff for himself, DeLay, DeLay's wife, a DeLay aide-turned-lobbyist and two others.
The subpoena includes statements from Abramoff's credit card showing that he paid the travel agency nearly $40,000 for the group's airfare for the trip to England and Scotland. It is against House rules for a lobbyist to put a congressman's expenses on his credit card.
DeLay is awaiting trial on the conspiracy and money-laundering charges and denies any wrongdoing. He was forced by party rules to step down from his House leadership post after he was indicted.
DeLay's attorney, Dick DeGuerin, was traveling and could not be reached for comment late Wednesday. He previously has said subpoenas in the case are not enforceable because it is on appeal.
Abramoff has pleaded guilty in a fraud and bribery conspiracy case and is cooperating with an investigation into those in Congress and the administration he used to lobby.
According to newspaper reports, much of the money for the junket -- which included playing golf at an exclusive course in Scotland -- was paid by two of Abramoff's clients, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and eLottery Inc. They sent checks to a third group, the National Center for Public Policy Research.
DeLay has said he did not know that Abramoff or his clients paid for the travel and has asked the House ethics committee to look into the trips, but the committee has yet to meet amid political wrangling over its organization.
The Mississippi tribe also contributed to DeLay's Texas political action committee, which is at the center of a Texas prosecutor's investigation.