A charitable organization closely tied to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) announced yesterday that it has canceled a series of parties and other events it had scheduled around the Republican National Convention, after it drew sharp criticism from public watchdog groups.

The organization, Celebrations for Children Inc., said officials canceled the events after deciding they had become too expensive to hold. "It has become clear New York around the time of the Republican Convention is too expensive a venue, therefore CfC will not hold the New York events and instead will pursue other less expensive locations later this year," the organization said in a statement.

Neither DeLay's office nor the charitable group returned calls requesting comment.

Several public watchdog groups have criticized the activities of the organization. They say the events amounted to little more than a fundraising scheme designed to raise large contributions that would finance parties DeLay had planned to host at the convention, which will be held Aug. 30 through Sept. 2.

His aides have defended the group, saying that at least three-quarters of the money raised would have gone to help needy children. The remainder would have financed dinners, a golf tournament, Broadway tickets and other fundraising events.

"This is a capitulation by House Majority Leader DeLay and a correct one," said Fred Wertheimer, president of the group Democracy 21. "The DeLay effort to use this charity to finance his political operations was a misuse of this charity and an abuse of the nation's tax laws. It never should have happened in the first place."