Thursday, September 29, 2005

Temporary Majority Leader Rep. Roy Blunt Hired Consultant Charged As DeLay Co-Conspirator

ABC News
Blunt Hired Consultant Who's Also Indicted
Temporary Majority Leader Rep. Roy Blunt Hired Consultant Charged As DeLay Co-Conspirator
The Associated Press

Sep. 29, 2005 - The political committee of Rep. Roy Blunt, who is temporarily replacing Rep. Tom DeLay as House majority leader, has paid roughly $88,000 in fees since 2003 to a consultant under indictment in Texas with DeLay, according to federal records.

Keri Ann Hayes, executive director of the Rely on Your Beliefs Fund, said the organization has been has been satisfied with the work done by Jim Ellis, but has not discussed whether he will be retained.

"We haven't had that conversation," she said. So far, she added, Ellis' indictment had no impact on his work.

Records on file with the Federal Election Commission show the fund linked to Blunt retains Ellis' firm, J.W. Ellis Co., and has made periodic payments for services. Political Money Line, a nonpartisan Internet tracking service, places the total at about $88,000.

Ellis is one of three political associates of DeLay, R-Texas, who have been indicted in an alleged scheme to use corporate political donations illegally to support candidates in state elections. Ellis also runs DeLay's national political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority.

DeLay was indicted on Wednesday, a development that required him to relinquish his leadership post at least temporarily. Blunt was chosen as his successor for the time being.

Hayes said Ellis analyzes House campaigns for Blunt's PAC, which supports Republican challengers and incumbents in House races.

Blunt has been the majority whip since 2003, a position that made him the chief vote counter for his party's conservative agenda.

DeLay's indictment capped a quick rise for Blunt, first elected to Congress in 1996. His district in southwestern Missouri includes Branson, a town of a few thousand residents that draws millions of country music fans each year to its performance stages.