WASHINGTON – Supporters of embattled Republican U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay were set to hold a fundraiser Thursday for the former House majority leader's re-election campaign.
"We thought it would be good to have an outpouring of support for Tom, and not just moral support, but to have an effect on his re-election," said Stuart Roy, DeLay's former communications director and a GOP consultant hosting the fund-raiser.
Former Rep. Nick Lampson is seeking the Democratic nomination to run against DeLay.
A former pest exterminator from Sugar Land, DeLay was indicted by two grand juries in Texas on conspiracy and money laundering charges. DeLay contends the case is politically motivated and vehemently denies wrongdoing.
The fundraiser for DeLay Thursday could become one of the most lucrative fund-raisers in Washington, aside from those featuring the president or vice president, if it raises more than $200,000, said GOP strategist Charlie Black. More than 100 people were invited and asked to contribute between $500 and $2,100. Roy and nearly 70 others on the event's organizing committee were required to donate $2,000 or raise $5,000 for DeLay.
Host committee members for the event include former DeLay employees, lobbyists, and former staffers of Republican lawmakers and presidents. Organizers include Tim Berry and Susan Hirschmann, two former DeLay staffers who have been linked to ethical questions involving the former majority leader.
"Most of these people have done well because of their connection with DeLay, and DeLay has actively tried to place them in key positions knowing that it would help him and the Republicans in Congress, and it has," said University of Virginia congressional expert Larry Sabato.
Public Citizen, a nonprofit group that seeks to end the practice of lobbyists contributing to lawmakers they want to influence, plans a protest outside the fund-raiser.
DeLay is accused of funneling $190,000 in restricted corporate money from his Texas political action committee to an arm of the Republican National Committee, which then gave the same amount of money to Texas legislative candidates in 2002. The direct use of corporate money for political purposes is against the law in Texas.