Watchdog demands DOJ release records on DeLay investigation

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Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics is suing the Department of Justice for refusing to release records on the federal investigation of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas.

CREW submitted a Freedom of Information Request to Justice and the FBI last October for records related to the investigation on the lawmaker’s relationship with Jack Abramoff and DOJ’s decision not to prosecute DeLay.

“Rep. Tom DeLay spent years turning the House of Representatives into his personal casino, and yet shockingly was never federally prosecuted. The American people deserve to know why,” said Melanie Sloan, the executive director of CREW.

DOJ said releasing the records could interfere with open law enforcement proceedings, even though the investigation ended in August 2010. The FBI claimed releasing the records would violate DeLay’s privacy.

The Center reported that Rep. DeLay, the most powerful lawmaker connected to Abramoff, received lavish campaign and PAC contributions from the lobbyist. Two former aides of DeLay went on to become lobbying associates for Abramoff. Ex-press spokesman Michael Scanlon and ex-deputy chief of staff Tony Rudy later pleaded guilty to criminal charges connected to the Abramoff case.

DeLay was tried in Texas state court and convicted of illegally funneling $190,000 in corporate money to elect Republicans to the state legislature in 2002. He was sentenced to three years in prison but is appealing.

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