Friday, March 31, 2006

End of the Affair Behind Unraveling Of DeLay's Team

End of the Affair Behind Unraveling Of DeLay's Team, A Jilted Fiancée
Breakup of Ex-Aides Shook Group Tied to Abramoff; The Prosecutors Move In Ms. Miller's Tearful Apology
March 31, 2006; Page A1

WASHINGTON -- The engagement of Emily Miller and Michael Scanlon was supposed to mark the coming out of a new Washington power couple.

The two had met on Capitol Hill, where they worked as press secretaries to Rep. Tom DeLay, the feared Texas Republican. They got engaged in September 2001 on the beach in Santa Monica, Calif., and planned an August 2002 wedding. As the date approached, Mr. Scanlon bought a $4.7 million oceanside mansion and guest house, formerly part of the DuPont estate, in Rehoboth Beach, Del. He furnished it down to the monogrammed towels and presented it to his bride-to-be.

Then, with the wedding a few months away, he called off the engagement and started dating a 24-year-old waitress.

Mr. Scanlon and Ms. Miller, now both 35 years old, were among a tight-knit group of aides who helped Mr. DeLay rise to the pinnacle of Capitol Hill in the 1990s and cement his power as House majority leader. Some of those aides provided a link between their boss and Jack Abramoff, a Republican lobbyist.

The end of the engagement was part of that group's unraveling -- which has had significant consequences for official Washington. The aides have since turned on one another, feeding the ethics scandal surrounding Mr. Abramoff that now roils the capital. Mr. Abramoff has admitted he directed Native American clients to pay huge sums to Mr. Scanlon's public-relations firm. Mr. Scanlon secretly gave Mr. Abramoff half of his profits.

Prosecutors came to Ms. Miller to help them build a case that drove her ex-fiancé to plead guilty, according to a person familiar with the situation. Mr. Scanlon's testimony in turn helped force Mr. Abramoff into a guilty plea. Another former DeLay aide, Tony Rudy, has been cited by prosecutors in the investigation. Now Washington is wondering whether prosecutors will use testimony from Messrs. Scanlon and Rudy to go after Mr. DeLay, who has resigned as majority leader....