Tom DeLay (born April 8, 1947) is a congressman from Sugar Land, Texas, a former House Majority Leader, and a prominent member of the Republican Party who recently announced that he will resign his seat on June 9, 2006.
A conservative, DeLay was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1984 from Texas's 22nd Congressional District. Known as "The Hammer" for his enforcement of party discipline in close votes and his reputation for exacting political retribution on opponents, he was appointed Deputy Minority Whip in 1988 and was elected House Majority Whip in 1995 after helping Newt Gingrich lead the Republican Revolution. Following the retirement of Dick Armey, he was elected House Majority Leader after the 2002 midterm elections.
DeLay was behind the K Street Project, a major effort to pressure lobbying firms to hire Republicans to top positions. DeLay was also a driving force behind President Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1998, and was credited in recent years with compelling House Republicans to march in lock step, especially in support of President George W. Bush's agenda.
After the 2000 U.S. Census DeLay formed Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee (TRMPAC), which helped coordinate efforts to redistrict congressional districts in Texas to favor the election of more Republicans. Charges that the organization had violated campaign finance laws resulted in the conviction of many of its officers, as well as DeLay's own 2005 indictment by a Travis County, Texas grand jury on criminal charges of conspiracy to violate election laws. DeLay has denied the charges, saying that they are motivated by the partisan actions of Democratic Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle. However, in accordance with Republican Caucus rules, DeLay temporarily resigned from his position as House Majority Leader, and on January 7, 2006, due to pressure from fellow Republicans, announced that he would not seek to return to the position.
DeLay stated that he would run for re-election in 2006, and won the Republican primary election on March 7, 2006. But in the prior four months, two of his former top aides, Michael Scanlon, former communications director, and Tony Rudy, his former chief of staff, pleaded guilty to various charges of corruption relating to the Jack Abramoff scandal. On April 3, 2006, three days after Rudy's plea, DeLay, citing the possibility of losing the general election, announced that he would withdraw from the race and that he will resign from his seat in Congress on June 9, 2006.