I could almost offer this without comment since it speaks so eloquently for itself:
It is an unusual charity brochure: a 13-page document, complete with pictures of fireworks and a golf course, that invites potential donors to give as much as $500,000 to spend time with Tom DeLay during the Republican convention in New York City next summer — and to have part of the money go to help abused and neglected children.Representative DeLay, who has both done work for troubled children and drawn criticism for his aggressive political fund-raising in his career in Congress, said through his staff that the entire effort was fundamentally intended to help children. But aides to Mr. DeLay, the House majority leader from Texas, acknowledged that part of the money would go to pay for late-night convention parties, a luxury suite during President Bush’s speech at Madison Square Garden and yacht cruises.
And so campaign finance watchdogs say Mr. DeLay’s effort can be seen as, above all, a creative maneuver around the recently enacted law meant to limit the ability of federal officials to raise large donations known as soft money.
“They are using the idea of helping children as a blatant cover for financing activities in connection with a convention with huge unlimited, undisclosed, unregulated contributions,” said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a Washington group that helped push through the recent overhaul of the campaign finance laws. (emphasis added)
And other Repugs think this is such a good idea that they’re copying it:
Already Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, is planning to hold a concert and a reception in conjunction with the convention as a way of raising money for AIDS charities
Marvelous. What can you say? Without throwing up, I mean. Here are the advantages (as if you couldn’t guess):
Mr. DeLay’s charity, Celebrations for Children Inc., was set up in September and has no track record of work. Mr. DeLay is not a formal official of the charity, but its managers are Mr. DeLay’s daughter, Dani DeLay Ferro; Craig Richardson, a longtime adviser; and Rob Jennings, a Republican fund-raiser. Mr. Richardson said the managers would be paid by the new charity.************
But because the money collected will go into a nonprofit organization, donors get a tax break. And Mr. DeLay will never have to account publicly for who contributed, which campaign finance experts say shields those who may be trying to win favor with one of the most powerful lawmakers in Washington. (emphasis added)
Beautiful, ain’t it? A bloody work of art–rip-off art. Amazing. Just when you think they’ve hit bottom, they dig down to a new substrata. At this rate, they’ll break into the Fires of Hell in about a week.
But here’s a bonus: Michael Slackman, the NYT reporter who wrote the piece, characterizes DeLay’s brainstorm with breathtaking understatement. After listing the various charitable activities DeLay promises–
Mr. DeLay, among other things, is offering donors private dinner with himself and his wife; the chance to participate in a golf tournament; a late-night party with a rock group; access to a luxury suite for elected officials and donors; as well as the yacht cruise, tickets to Broadway shows and more. Other elected officials are welcome at all of these events.
–he characterizes the scheme this way:
But by holding events at the convention — and working under the auspices of a charity — Mr. DeLay has stepped into an ethical gray area, election law and tax law experts said. (emphasis added)
“Ethical gray area”? Um, yeah, that’s one way of putting it. Another is “an unethical, midnight black area, a nightmare of depravity, greed, and arrogance, an area running with plague and pus, and a disgraceful display of cold-hearted selfishness worthy of Ebeneezer Scrooge.”
But I understate.