When House Majority Leader Tom DeLay helped kill a congressional fact-finding trip to the Northern Mariana Islands, it seemed obvious that DeLay was not interested in seeing the harsher reality of life on the Islands. A 1999 Houston Press article confirms DeLay’s willful ignorance.
Originally visiting Texas “as part of a campaign to rally for legislation intended to end dangerous job conditions and substandard wages for the largely Asian female workforce,” Carmencita Abad soon found herself lucky enough to have a scheduled appointment with Tom DeLay’s Stafford office. So Abad, a woman who had spent “six years in the brutal conditions of a Saipan sweatshop” before becoming an activist herself, arrived at the office with two human rights activists and a University of Houston history professor. But when they got there, the delegation was told that the meeting had been canceled. They tried to hold their ground but suddenly “two plainclothes police officers … arrived asking to see their driver’s licenses, alleging they had refused to leave the office.” (Only problem was that it seems no one had ever asked them to leave the office.) It didn’t matter, though. After threatening to arrest them if they didn’t leave, the cops “[escorted] them to the parking lot [and] copied down their license plate numbers.”
DeLay’s office maintained not only that the “visitors were belligerent” but also that the meeting had been canceled. On the other hand, Abad and her group claim that the message which had supposedly been left wasn’t even “with someone … involved with the Saipan campaign.” However, DeLay’s office “[dismissed] the incident as a ‘public relations gimmick'” and under “instructions from [the Washington office]” had chosen not to meet with what they called a (surprise surprise) “liberal, radical group, not a legitimate organization.”
When supporters of Abad asked for an apology for the treatment she had received, Tom DeLay’s camp instead gave this response:
They should be giving an apology to the people of the 22nd District of Texas for the loss of time of the office staff who could have been working on substantive issues.
Substantive issues like ensuring that human rights violations on the Mariana Islands continued unabated?