Republican now charged with money laundering

LESS than a week after he was first indicted for breaking Texas election law, Tom DeLay, the disgraced former Republican majority leader in the House of Representatives, faces two new criminal charges, casting a fresh cloud over his political future.

DeLay stepped down, he hopes temporarily, from his post after he was indicted by a grand jury on charges of violating Texas campaign finance laws last week.

The new charges accuse him of money laundering and conspiracy to launder money.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

DeLay's lawyers have challenged the first indictment, issued last week, arguing that it is based on a law that only came into force in 2003, a year after the acts in question.

According to DeLay, Ronnie Earle, the Democratic district attorney leading the investigation, "has stooped to a new low with his brand of prosecutorial abuse. He is trying to pull the legal equivalent of a 'do-over' since he knows very well that the charges he brought against me last week are totally manufactured and illegitimate. This is an abomination of justice."

The charges relate to the 2002 elections to the Texas state legislature. DeLay is accused of funnelling $190,000 of corporate contributions to his Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee through the Republican National Committee in Washington and then using it to support Republican candidates in the state elections.

Texan law prohibits corporate contributions to state election campaigns.

Bruce Buchanan, professor of political science at the University of Texas, said the new indictment may offer an opening for DeLay's defence team. "It's an opportunity to claim these guys don't have a case, and it allows the defence to allege that it's purely political," he said.

That is the defence DeLay is currently employing. "The judicial incompetence and political hatred that Ronnie Earle showed today demonstrates that Texans did not elect their best and brightest to the position of Travis County district attorney," said DeLay's spokesman. "Ronnie Earle may truly be the Elmer Fudd of politics."

Related topics: