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Volume 71, Issue 48, Thursday, November 3, 2005

Opinion

UH alumnus not so 'distinguished'

Hasan Rizvi
Opinion columnist

"Corruption and hypocrisy ought not to be inevitable products of democracy, as they undoubtedly are today", Mahatma Gandhi said. 

This is still very true today. And no other politician is more illustrative of corruption in our democracy than our very own University of Houston alumnus, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. 

Many of you have probably seen DeLay smiling in his mug shot. This was a long time coming. DeLay -- along with John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, two of DeLay's associates who were in leadership positions in some of DeLay's political action committees -- have been indicted for scheming to launder money to circumvent Texas campaign finance laws. Yes, believe it or not, even Texas has a few campaign finance laws. 

"The Hammer," as DeLay is known, has been notorious for his mob-like tactics in pushing his agenda. About a year ago, the former Sugar Land pest exterminator was chastised by the House Ethics Committee for trying to bribe a congressman to vote yes on the Medicare prescription drug benefit bill. He has also been chastised for threatening a trade group because it selected a Democrat to be its top official, being in bed with Westar Energy officials and using the Federal Aviation Administration to track down Texas representatives who had fled Austin to prevent a vote on redistricting legislation he pushed. Reps. Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio, and Kenny Hulshof, R-Mo., who had voted for the censures, were replaced on the House Ethics Committee by party leadership with two of DeLay's cronies, Reps. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and Tom Cole, R-Okla. Does a person who said "I am the federal government" when told to put out a cigar because federal regulations banned smoking in the building really seem like a person not drunk on power? 

Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist who has come to be symbolic of the corruption and power money buys in our government, has been described by DeLay as "one of my closest and dearest friends." DeLay received gifts from Abramoff, including a golfing retreat to Scotland, tickets for concerts and the use of Abramoff's private skyboxes for fundraisers. 

When DeLay is caught red-handed prostituting himself to big business and other powerful lobbies, he often lashes out. He shoved Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., and called him a "gutless chicken shit" on the House floor after speaking about how legislation submitted by DeLay was actually written by business lobbyists. 

DeLay may or may not be found guilty on the latest charges brought against him. If he is found not guilty, that still in no way would vindicate DeLay on the charge of being one of the most corrupt politicians in the United States. 

Unfortunately, a few years ago, DeLay was honored by the Houston Alumni Organization as a Distinguished Alumnus. You can include Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, Hakeem Olajuwon, Jim Nantz and even Star Jones as distinguished alumni, among others. But, simply put, one of the most despicable men in the United States graduating from UH is certainly nothing to brag about.

Rizvi, an opinion columnist for The Daily Cougar, 
can be reached at hasanalirizvi@yahoo.co.uk.

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