A House ethics panel said Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) "should be publicly admonished" for offering Rep. Nick Smith (R-Mich.) an endorsement of his son's congressional campaign in exchange for Smith's favorable vote on last year's Medicare law. In a 62-page report, the investigative subcommittee of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct concluded that DeLay and Smith acted improperly before and after the Nov. 23 House vote. Smith was one of 215 representatives voting against the bill. It passed by a five-vote margin.
Following the vote, Smith implied he also was offered financial bribes to support the bill, an implication he later retracted. The ethics panel said Smith's additional claims could not be substantiated and criticized Smith for not fully cooperating with the panel's investigation. In a news release, Smith said, "The ethics committee has ruled. Let us now move on from this unpleasant episode." The subcommittee faulted DeLay for his endorsement offer, saying it "risks undermining the confidence of the public that legislation was supported or opposed ... on the basis of the interest of the public and no other interest." At deadline, DeLay's office had not returned a call seeking comment. Read the report. -- by Jeff Tieman