DeLay, Tom

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

DeLay, Tom

Tom DeLay (Thomas Dale DeLay), 1947–, American politician, b. Laredo, Tex., grad. Univ. of Houston (B.S., 1970). A conservative Republican businessman, he entered politics (1979) as a Texas state legislator, serving until 1984, when he was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He rose quickly in House Republican ranks, becoming majority whip in 1995, and gaining a reputation for his exceptional fund-raising abilities. When Rep. Dennis Hastert was elected Speaker in 1999, many saw DeLay, who aquired the nickname "the Hammer" because of his strong, sometimes unsubtle efforts to assure and enforce party control of the House, as the greater force among House Republicans. His political tactics, however, also led to several admonishments from the House ethics committee.

DeLay became a leading voice for reduced Social Security and capital gains taxes, for the protection of business and free trade, and for deregulation in many areas of American life. He also expressed opposition to gun control while leading attacks on various aspects of modern culture, indicting such perceived evils as birth control, evolutionary theory, and day care. During the Lewinsky scandal, he led the successful effort to impeach President Bill Clinton, and he worked behind the scenes to orchestrate demonstrations opposing a recount in Florida in the 2000 presidential election. DeLay became House majority leader in 2003. In 2005 he was charged with conspiracy to circumvent Texas restrictions on corporate campaign contributions and money laundering; because of the indictment he temporarily resigned the majority leader's post. The circumvention charge was subsequently dismissed, but in 2006, under pressure, he made his resignation as majority leader permanent and subsequently resigned from Congress. In 2010 he was convicted in Texas of money laundering in the campaign finance case. His No Retreat, No Surrender (2007) is a combination of autobiography, manifesto, and attack on his presumed political enemies.

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