DeLay Denies Lying Under Oath in '94 Suit Over Business
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 5, 1999; Page A13
After remaining silent for weeks about allegations he may have lied under oath, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) yesterday denied committing perjury in a 1994 lawsuit involving his former extermination business.
De Lay, who said President Clinton should be removed from office for lying in court cases, has found himself under fire for what critics saw as evasive comments in a lawsuit filed against him by a former business partner, Robert Blankenship. DeLay reached a confidential, out-of-court settlement with Blankenship in 1995.
Blankenship and his attorney, Gerald P. DeNisco, said that at the time of DeLay's deposition on Feb. 5, 1994, they had not seen federal financial disclosure statements in which DeLay reported he was chairman of Albo Pest Control Co. and was receiving significant payments from it. When asked in the deposition if he was an officer of the company, DeLay said, "I don't think so. No."
Later in his testimony, however, DeLay said he wasn't sure if he had resigned from the firm.
Yesterday, DeLay released a statement saying: "With regards to my testimony in a 1994 lawsuit, I did not commit perjury or pull a Clinton under oath . . . My company was a very small operation and after being elected to Congress I had little to do with the day-to-day operation of the company and I couldn't remember my formal role in the company. That is why I answered 'I don't think so' when asked if I was an officer or director. Furthermore, after the deposition, I filed a formal pleading to the court clarifying any confusion."
The controversy concerning DeLay's comments first arose in early February, when the New Republic published an article detailing the conflicting statements of the Texas Republican. Yesterday Roll Call newspaper reported DeLay denied committing perjury and several other allegations in a Wednesday meeting of his deputy whips.
DeLay accused presidential allies of trying to smear him, according to several lawmakers who attended the session, and he noted the allegations surfaced just when he was struggling with the news that his wife had cancer.
"He was just trying to [tell] everybody that they were after him," said Rep. Cass Ballenger (R-N.C.). "Everyone agreed it was probably a put-up job."
While Democrats criticize DeLay and have previously filed ethics complaints against him, no lawmakers have indicated they plan to file charges based on his 1994 deposition.
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