When the Wall Street Journal editorial page gives prime real estate to a piece (subscription only) about Tom DeLay's serious legal problems, you know The Hammer's problems are, well, serious.
Today's column by Jonathan Gurwitz of the San Antonio Express-News, headlined "Tom DeLay's Woes Won't End in Texas," says the money-laundering case underway in Austin is the least of DeLay's worries.
"The far graver threat to Mr. DeLay's political future is inside the Beltway, with the escalating scandal involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
"Mr. DeLay's ties to Mr. Abramoff are numerous. Some expenses associated with a political junket and golfing trip to the United Kingdom in 2000 showed up on Mr. Abramoff's credit card. Mr. DeLay made frequent use of Mr. Abramoff's skybox at the MCI Center. Christine DeLay, the congressman's wife, worked for a lobbying firm that received referrals from Mr. Abramoff. These only scratch the surface of a relationship between Mr. Abramoff, Mr. DeLay, and Mr. DeLay's office that stretches back a decade and involves some of the lobbyist's most noxious efforts.
"It is the Michael Scanlon connection, however, that may prove to be the most damaging to Mr. DeLay and others on Capitol Hill. Mr. Scanlon was Mr. DeLay's press secretary who went on to become a partner of Mr. Abramoff. Last month he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bribe public officials and is now cooperating in the broadening bribery and corruption probe.
"The gravity of events in Washington is a world away from the ethics antics in Austin. A former aide has turned star government witness. Congressional Republicans (those not implicated in the Abramoff scandal) are becoming increasingly inhospitable to Mr. DeLay's leadership. For all his grandiose faults, [Texas prosecutor] Ronnie Earle may be the best political friend Tom DeLay has right now."