The New York Times this morning revealed that the chairman of the House Ethics Committee, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), is closely tied to the lobbying firm which is now the focus of a federal corruption investigation. The firm, Preston Gates & Ellis, was home to shady lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who allegedly teamed up with Rep. Tom DeLay in the 1990s in a scheme to help the Marianas Islands avoid U.S. labor laws. (The Marianas Islands run brutal sweatshops where workers are “paid barely half the U.S. minimum hourly wage,” are forced to live behind barbed wire in squalid shacks minus plumbing,” and report having been forced into prostitution.)
Here’s a look at Hastings’s close ties Preston Gates & Ellis, Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay. Little wonder DeLay says he “welcomes” a House Ethics Committee investigation into the charges against him.
Over the past 10 years, Hastings received $14,000 from Preston Gates & Ellis, including $1,000 from Jack Abramoff himself.
After meeting with Preston Gates in 1996, Hastings stood on the House floor and praised the Marianas Island’s government for “moving in the right direction toward self-sufficiency” and warned requiring the island to abide by U.S. labor laws could “crush its fragile economy.”
Hastings has “received $5,930 in campaign contributions from DeLay’s leadership PAC, Americans for a Republican Majority.”
After taking control of the Ethics Committee, Hastings (R-WA) fired two senior staff lawyers who were involved in unanimous decisions to admonish DeLay three times for improper fundraising practices and bribes in the last two years.
Yep. Sure looks like an independent and fair investigation is in the works.