1-7-05 - WASHINGTON (AP) Embattled Representative Tom DeLay today abandoned his bid to remain as House majority leader.
That clears the way for leadership elections among Republicans eager to shed the taint of scandal.
In a letter to rank-and-file Republicans, DeLay said -- quote -- "I have always acted in an ethical manner."
At the same time, the Texas Republican from Sugar Land wrote -- "I cannot allow our adversaries to divide and distract our attention,"
DeLay is battling campaign finance charges in Texas. He was forced to step aside temporarily as majority leader last fall after he was charged in his home state. He has been trying to clear his name and, until today, resume his leadership role.
In a separate letter to Speaker Dennis Hastert, DeLay said he intends to seek re-election to his House seat in November.
Text of a letter today from Representative Tom DeLay, a Republican from Texas, to fellow House Republicans about his decision not to seek to return to his post as majority leader:
Today, I have asked Speaker Hastert to convene our conference for the purpose of electing a new majority leader, the position I have been honored to fill these past three years through the trust and confidence of our colleagues.
During my time in Congress, I have always acted in an ethical manner within the rules of our body and the laws of our land. I am fully confident time will bear this out.
However, we live in serious times and the United States House of Representatives must be focused on the job of protecting our nation and meeting the daily challenges facing the American people. History has proven that when House Republicans are united and focused, success follows.
While we wage these important battles, I cannot allow our adversaries to divide and distract our attention. I will continue to stand up for the issues I care so deeply about and work with you all on these priorities. I am constantly thankful for the support of my constituents in recent days as well as over the years they have allowed me to serve them. I will continue to work every day to fulfill their trust, and yours.