The House Republican Conference this week unanimously reversed its decision of a month ago to drop the conference’s 10-year-old rule requiring House leaders to step down if indicted.
The move to abandon the rule had been aimed at helping Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R.-Tex.), who could become the object of a politically motivated indictment by hyper-partisan Democratic Travis County (Tex.) District Attorney Ronnie Earle. (Earle has secured questionable campaign-finance-related indictments against three GOP political operatives associated with DeLay.) DeLay himself suggested that the conference reverse the rule change. “I… didn’t want to give Democrats ammunition on the first day of swearing in,” he told the Christian Science Monitor. But Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R.-Ariz.), who opposed the rule change in the first place, reflected on what his constituents told him: “What I heard was that the ‘reform Congress’ might be in danger of loosing its moorings.”