Houston Stations Differ on DeLay Spot

DALLAS Houston television stations have begun airing a commercial calling for the resignation of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay after a public interest group agreed to tone down rhetoric in the ad.

The 30-second spot by the Campaign for America’s Future and the Public Campaign Action Fund cites connections between DeLay and lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to corruption charges and is cooperating with a federal investigation of lawmakers and their aides.

The ad says DeLay “received tens of thousands [of dollars] in campaign contributions from indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his associates” and that “he visited cliff-top Caribbean resorts, golf courses designed by PGA champions and four-star restaurants—all courtesy of donors who bankrolled his political money empire.”

KPRC-NBC (Channel 2) and KRIV-FOX (Channel 26) started running the ad over the weekend after some changes in wording were negotiated. KHOU-CBS (Channel 11) and KTRK-ABC (Channel 13) said they would decide today whether to air the spot, which was allowed to run on some cable channels.

Changes in phrasing included using the word “received” instead of “pocketed,” the organization said.

The nonpartisan group FactCheck.org, part of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, reviewed the ad and said it was ambiguous but not false.

A spokeswoman for DeLay told the Houston Chronicle that the ad contained nothing new and came from a front group for Democrats and labor organizations seeking to raise cash.

DeLay, whose hometown is the Houston suburb of Sugar Land, faces a tough re-election battle after his indictment by a Travis County grand jury on money laundering charges. The indictment forced DeLay to relinquish his leadership role in the House.

Before running the amended ad, KPRC asked its viewers to vote on its Web site on whether the spot should air. About 73 percent of the respondents, roughly 2,360 people, said they “do not agree with the TV station’s decision and feel the ad should be broadcast,” according to Campaign for America’s Future.

CFAF and the Public Campaign Action Fund plans to spend $115,000 on new television, radio and billboard ads targeting Rep. DeLay and Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio.