The Republican Party is faced with an interesting challenge right now in terms of what to do about Tom Delay. Delay is so obviously crooked that it seems unlikely (though nowhere near impossible) that he will survive this most recent round of scandals. The problem has nothing to do with potential censure by Congress - there won't be any with the Republicans in power. The problem is in Texas courts.
Texas, strangely enough, actually has some fairly strict campaign finance laws. Delay's disdain for (and open defiance of) those laws has been an open secret for many, many years, but in the last few election cycles Delay has gotten sloppy and brought the heat down on himself fairly hard.
Now that Delay's cover is blown, the Republicans would like nothing better than to throw him under the bus. Unfortunately for them, The Hammer is probably in a position to take most of the party with him if and when he does go down.
The financial hub of the Republican Party has been in Texas for a long time, basically since the Nixon machine collapsed. And since that time the Lone Star State has drifted perilously close to some major, major scandals that could have brought the whole house of cards tumbling down for good.
Texas, along with California and Florida, was at the epicenter of the Savings and Loan scandal that buzzed the GOP tower in the 1980's, and of course most recently Enron's successful gaming of the California energy market and, later, the FTC and SEC. Enron's diversion of many of the profits of that illegal enterprise to Texas Republican politicians could have been something of a problem for the party, had September 11th not intervened.
To make a long story short, Delay was central to all of these crazy get-rich-quick schemes and dozens of others, and if he really does get popped, the shit will splatter on a lot of important people.
One thing I've had fun with recently is looking around at movement conservative sites where users are wrestling with the vexing question of whether to dump support for Delay or keep defending him. A lot of the rank-and-filers want to cut Delay loose to prevent him from further harming the party in the 2006 elections, but the real Delay Problem for the Republicans may well be that the cure might be worse than the disease.
More to come...