Heather PACs It In

According to a Sept. 29 story in USA Today, Representatives Heather Wilson of New Mexico and Jeb Bradley of New Hampshire are the first Republicans to say they will return campaign funds they received from Tom DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority PAC, or ARMPAC.

Delay was indicted on Sept 28 for allegedly conspiring to violate Texas campaign fundraising laws, but the charges center on his TRMPAC, or Texans for a Republican Majority, rather than his ARMPAC.

While Bradley will return all DeLay funds, the USA Today story says that Wilson's campaign will return the $10,000 she has received from DeLay for the 2006 election cycle but not the nearly $38,000 she has received since 1998.

Not every beneficiary of DeLay's cash feels the same way. Calling the refunds ridiculous, Frank Luntz, a prominent Republican strategist said Republicans owe their majority to DeLay, and that, "You dance with the one that brought you."

Texas Republican Rep. Henry Bonilla was quoted as saying, "If you're afraid of keeping Tom DeLay's PAC money, you're probably afraid of your own shadow."

Wilson has been criticized before for her ties to the freshly indicted DeLay. After the 2004 election cycle the League of Conservation Voters issued a report titled "Tom's Tainted Team: An analysis of House Members who side with DeLay and MTBE special interests over their constituents"

The report named Wilson as one of ten representatives who received contributions from DeLay's PACs and from corporations that produce or distribute the gasoline additive MTBE. Wilson voted to change House ethics rules to favor DeLay. She also voted for what the LCV report describes as: "[A] special interest provision to protect makers and refiners of the dangerous chemical MTBE from pollution liability. MTBE, a potential carcinogen has contaminated groundwater systems in at least 29 states, threatening the drinking water of millions of Americans. The MTBE polluter bailout provision will force states and local taxpayers to pay billions to clean up the MTBE contamination."

MTBE is an unregulated contaminant. At concentrations as low as 2 parts per billion, it can give water a foul taste and odor. The LCV report said that wells have been found contaminated with MTBE in one community in Wilson's district, Edgewood. It listed the level of contamination as only 0.5 ppb.

The entire "Tom's Tainted Team" report can be downloaded at lcv.org/images/client/Toms_Tainted_Team_092805.pdf. The report also lists Wilson's contributors from the oil and gas industry, including MTBE manufacturers.lu