WASHINGTON – One of Congress' most conservative members on Friday became the second House Republican to urge Majority Leader Tom DeLay (search) to step aside because of the ethics scrutiny he's facing.
"If the majority leader were to temporarily step aside so that these trumped up charges can be dealt with in a less hostile environment, as they have proven to be an unnecessary distraction, it may be a productive move," said Rep. Tom Tancredo (search), R-Colo.
Tancredo's comments come after Connecticut Rep. Chris Shays (search), a moderate Republican, urged DeLay to resign from his leadership position at the beginning of the week. Also, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, said DeLay needs to answer questions about his ethics.
Tancredo, elected in 1998, said he believes all charges against DeLay, R-Texas, "lack merit" and are "being leveled in the hopes of bringing him down and with him, the Republican majority."
Tancredo is known in the House for his tough stand on immigration and has 100 percent rating from the American Conservative Union (search) for votes and his position on issues.
DeLay has been dogged by questions for months about his overseas travel, corporate fundraising in 2002 for Texas legislative campaigns, campaign payments to family members and his connections to a lobbyist now under federal investigation.
Some GOP colleagues have suggested his continuing ethics controversy is harming the GOP, while others say the criticism has been orchestrated by Democrats and their liberal allies.
DeLay has said he is eager to appear before the leaders of the House ethics committee and give "everything I have" in connection with allegations of misconduct. Spokesman Dan Allen provided a similar comment Friday and cited a list of accomplishments by House Republicans with DeLay as majority leader.
Before DeLay can meet with the ethics committee, Democrats and Republicans must resolve a deadlock over rules Republicans pushed through the House. Democrats oppose the changes.