ASHINGTON, April 5 - The wife and daughter of Tom DeLay, the House majority leader,
have been paid more than $500,000 since 2001 by Mr. DeLay's political action and
campaign committees, according to a detailed review of disclosure statements filed
with the Federal Election Commission and separate fund-raising records in Mr.
DeLay's home state, Texas.
Most of the payments to his wife, Christine A. DeLay, and his only child, Dani
DeLay Ferro, were described in the disclosure forms as "fund-raising fees,"
"campaign management" or "payroll," with no additional details
about how they earned the money. The payments appear to reflect what Mr. DeLay's
aides say is the central role played by the majority leader's wife and daughter
in his political career.
Mr. DeLay's national political action committee, Americans for a Republican
Majority, or Armpac, said in a statement on Tuesday that the two women had provided
valuable services to the committee in exchange for the payments: "Mrs.
DeLay provides big picture, long-term strategic guidance and helps with personnel
decisions. Ms. Ferro is a skilled and experienced professional event planner
who assists Armpac in arranging and organizing individual events."
Mrs. Ferro has managed several of her father's re-election campaigns for his
His spokesman said that Mr. DeLay had no additional comment. Although several
members of Congress employ family members as campaign managers or on their political
action committees, advocacy groups seeking an overhaul of federal campaign-finance
and ethics laws say that the payments to Mr. DeLay's family members were unusually
generous, and should be the focus of new scrutiny of the Texas congressman.
Mr. DeLay, whose position as majority leader makes him the second-most-powerful
House member, has offered a vigorous public defense in recent weeks to a flurry
of ethics accusations from Democratic lawmakers and campaign watchdog groups,
including charges that he violated House rules on travel. The executive director
of Americans for a Republican Majority and a major fund-raiser for the committee
were indicted in Texas last year on charges of illegal fund-raising, and prosecutors
there have refused to rule out the possibility of charges against Mr. DeLay
in the continuing inquiry.
In recent weeks, public interest groups have called on the House ethics committee
and the Justice Department to review lavish, privately financed overseas trips
for Mr. DeLay and his aides, including a 1997 trip to Russia that was underwritten
by a conservative education group closely linked to a powerful Republican lobbyist
who often boasted of his influence with the majority leader.
The payments to Mr. DeLay's family have continued into 2005; the latest monthly
disclosure filed by Americans for a Republican Majority shows Mrs. DeLay was
paid was paid $4,028 last month, while Mrs. Ferro received $3,681. Earlier statements
show that the two women received similar monthly fees from the political action
committee throughout 2003 and 2004.
Mrs. DeLay has been involved in her husband's political career and his fund-raising
operations in Washington and Texas. In an interview in 2003 with Roll Call,
a newspaper on Capitol Hill, a spokesman for Mr. DeLay explained Mrs. DeLay's
role as "the final signoff of Tom's travel schedule, what events he attends
and what his name appears on."
Mrs. Ferro has also helped manage Mr. DeLay's charity operations. Financial
disclosure statements filed by Mr. DeLay's House campaign committees, which
are separate from Americans for a Republican Majority, show that Mrs. Ferro
and her political consulting firm, Coastal Consulting of Sugar Land, Tex., received
$222,000 from 2001 through last year, reflecting her role in the re-election
Although there has been no suggestion from prosecutors that Mrs. Ferro is under
investigation by the grand jury in Austin, her records were subpoenaed in the
inquiry, which is focused on the fund-raising activities of Texans for a Republican
Majority, a state political action committee modeled on Americans for a Republican
Majority. Mrs. Ferro received about $30,000 in fund-raising and consulting fees
from Texans for a Republican Majority, the committee's records show.
"It's DeLay Inc. " said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens
for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a research group that has closely
monitored Mr. DeLay and his campaign fund-raising and expenditures. "If
it's not illegal, it certainly is inappropriate for members of Congress to use
their positions to enrich their families."
Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics and a
former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission, said that "questions
are raised anytime a politician puts close family members on the payroll."
Republican lawmakers can point to prominent Democrats whose campaign and political
action committees have provided lucrative jobs or consulting contracts to family
members. Representative Howard L. Berman of California, the ranking Democrat
on the House ethics committee from 1997 to 2003, paid $50,000 from his campaign
accounts last year to a consulting firm owned by his brother, according to disclosure
forms. Disclosure statements also show that Senator Barbara Boxer, another California
Democrat, directed $15,000 from her political action committee in 2003 to a
consulting firm run by her son.
Several public interest groups have called in recent weeks for the House ethics
committee or another body that may be examining his finances to open an investigation
of Mr. DeLay, focused in part on his privately financed overseas travels, including
the 1997 trip to Moscow and a 2000 trip to Britain. Questions about the trips'
financing were first raised in March in an article in the National Journal.
Mr. DeLay has denied that he violated House rules in accepting the 2000 trip
from a conservative education group associated with one of the city's most powerful
Republican lobbyists, Jack Abramoff.
The nonprofit education group, the National Center for Public Policy Research,
has said it received large contributions from Mr. Abramoff's clients about the
time of the trips, although it has denied that the donations were redirected
to finance Mr. DeLay's travels.
The trip to Moscow, according to the American Foreign Policy Council report,
was backed by the energy companies that had ties to the Russian government and
that were trying to build support in Washington for Russian privatization efforts
and trade policies.
Mr. DeLay met with Russian business and political leaders. House financial
disclosure statements show that Mr. DeLay's travel costs totaled $9,029 and
that the costs for five members of his staff totaled $55,033. It listed the
sponsor as the National Center for Public Policy Research.
Bobby R. Burchfield, a lawyer for Mr. DeLay, declined to comment, as did the
National Center for Public Policy Research. Jonathan Blank, managing partner
at Preston Gates & Ellis in Washington, said the firm had represented Chelsea
but would not discuss whether the organization had helped pay for Mr. DeLay's
Dan Allen, a spokesman for Mr. DeLay, said the congressman had filed forms
stating that the Moscow and Britain trips were paid by the National Center for
Public Policy Research.
Eric Lipton and Monica Borkowski contributed reporting for this article.