House ethics panel extends DeLay probe

/ Source: The Associated Press

The House ethics committee will spend another 45 days reviewing allegations against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, whose fund-raising activities and use of federal resources have been questioned, the committee announced Friday.

The extension could push a decision on whether to investigate the charges levied by Rep. Chris Bell, D-Texas, to around Labor Day, when the fall election campaigns shift into high gear.

DeLay has dismissed the complaint as frivolous and continued to rebut it’s claims.

“We’ve repeatedly pointed out that these partisan accusations by Chris Bell are untrue, based on innuendo and prompted by campaign considerations. We have and will continue to disprove them all,” DeLay’s office said in a statement issued late Thursday after the ethics committee had met.

The committee said the extension will ensure “ that we have sufficient time to obtain and consider information pertinent to the determination we are to make” on the complaint. The extension is not a reflection on the substance of the allegations in the complaint, the committee said.

Democratic House members have demanded the investigation and plan to make DeLay’s conduct a campaign issue.

Watchdog groups have recommended that an outside counsel handle the investigation because four of five Republicans on the evenly divided panel have received contributions from DeLay’s fund-raising operations.

The complaint involves DeLay’s fund-raising activities on behalf of Texas legislative candidates. A Texas prosecutor is investigating those activities.