DeLay's Defense Fund Raising Loses Steam

Majority Leader Tom DeLay (search) continued raising money for his legal defense fund early this year, but the flow of money slowed significantly compared with last year, according to reports DeLay filed Monday.

DeLay raised $47,750 in the first three months of the year, far less than the $254,250 in contributions during the last three months of 2004, according to the report filed with the Legislative Resources Center (search).

DeLay also reported spending $34,000 from the fund, largely on attorneys, between Jan. 1 and March 31 of this year. The report was posted late Monday on PoliticalMoneyLine, a Web site that tracks political fund raising and spending.

DeLay has been under an ethical cloud for several months over his ties to a lobbyist under federal criminal investigation, Jack Abramoff (search).

Critics have been calling for closer scrutiny of some of DeLay's overseas travel, including trips that included Abramoff, and other ties to Abramoff.

DeLay has denied any wrongdoing and said he's willing to defend himself before the House ethics committee, but the panel is essentially shut down because of a partisan deadlock over new rules imposed by Republicans.

His spokesman Dan Allen said DeLay is pleased with the support "helping him fend off the barrage of attacks" that he attributes to "the Democrats and their allies."

The biggest sum of contributions to DeLay's fund came from Alabama Republican Spencer Bachus. He gave $5,000 from his re-election committee and another $5,000 from Growth and Prosperity Political Action Committee, his fundraising organization that provides money to other Republican candidates.

Other members contributing were Republican Reps. Steve King of Iowa, $1,000; Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, $1,000; Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, $5,000; Kenny Marchant of Texas, $5,000, and Dave Weldon of Florida, $5,000.

Individuals who gave included Ned Holmes, a Houston real estate investor who serves on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, contributed $5,000.