Topeka National and state Democrats on Friday criticized Kansas Republican House members Jim Ryun, whose district includes the western portion of Lawrence, and Todd Tiahrt, of Goddard, for their close ties to indicted U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay.
DeLay, a Republican from Sugar Land, Texas, was forced to step down as House majority leader this week after he was indicted on a charge of conspiracy involving political action committee contributions. DeLay has denied any wrongdoing, calling the investigation a partisan attack.
But on Friday, Democrats were blasting allies of DeLay.
"We call on Congressmen Ryun and Tiahrt to prove to Kansans that they aren't as ethically challenged as their leader and return campaign funds from DeLay's PAC," said Kansas Democratic Party Executive Director Mike Gaughan.
DeLay's political action committee has given Ryun more than $30,000 and Tiahrt more than $10,000, according to campaign finance reports.
Ryun's office said it would not return the contributions and declined to respond to the Democrats' verbal attacks. Ryun has previously said the indictment against DeLay was politically motivated.
The Democratic National Committee accused Tiahrt of "facilitating the culture of corruption."
In January, Tiahrt was one of only 20 members of the House who voted against forcing members of leadership to relinquish their positions if they were indicted. The vote was made while DeLay's political action committee was under investigation.
Chuck Knapp, a spokesman for Tiahrt, said Tiahrt "voted against that change because, and it turned out to be right, he believes that someone could then politically indict someone and cause them to lose their leadership position, which is exactly what happened with Ronnie Earle, who has a history of such politically motivated indictments."
Earle, a Democrat, is the district attorney in Texas who has led the ethics investigation. He has denied politics had anything to do with the probe and has pointed out that he has investigated Republicans and Democrats during his career.