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Tom DeLay convicted on money laundering charges

delay_mugshot_tsg_01.jpg

It only took five years, but Texas Democrats finally won a conviction against former House Majority Leader Tom Delay. An Austin, TX, jury found him guilty of money laundering during the 2002 Texas congressional races. The New York Times explains the "money laundering" charge:

Mr. DeLay was initially charged with breaking campaign finance law. But prosecutors later switched strategies because it was impossible under the law at the time to accuse someone of conspiring to break campaign finance rules, prosecutors said.

Instead, prosecutors used a novel legal theory never before tried in Texas: They argued that Mr. DeLay and two of his political operatives -- John Colyandro and Jim Ellis -- had violated the criminal money-laundering law.

They were charged with conspiring to funnel $190,000 in corporate donations to state candidates through the Republican National Committee.

The main facts of the case were never in dispute.

In mid-September 2002, as the election heated up, Mr. DeLay's state political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, gave a check for $190,000 to the Republican National Committee. The money had been donated earlier in the year by various corporate lobbyists seeking to influence Mr. DeLay, several witnesses said.

On Sept. 13, the check was delivered to the R.N.C. by Mr. Ellis, who was Mr. DeLay's top political operative in Washington and headed his federal political action committee.

At the same meeting, Mr. Ellis also gave the Republican director of political operations, Terry Nelson, a list of state candidates and an amount to be sent to each. Mr. Nelson testified that Mr. Ellis had told him the request for the swap had come from Mr. DeLay.

In early October, donations were sent from a separate account filled with individual donations to seven Republican candidates in Texas. Six of them won. Republicans took control of the Legislature for the first time in modern history and in 2003 pushed through a redistricting plan, orchestrated by Mr. DeLay, that sent more Texas Republicans to Congress in 2004 and helped him consolidate power.

One has to wonder how many times, on a routine basis, something similar has occurred within the Democratic party machinery of Illinois or New Jersey or Louisiana, or for that matter how many times something similar occurred in relation to the millions of dollars raised by Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign. Or during Bill Clinton's illegal 1996 fund raising schemes. I see nothing more than "politics as usual" here, certainly not some kind of uber-evil criminal conspiracy.

DeLay will appeal of course, and if his conviction stands he will probably pay a fine and receive probation rather than be sentenced to prison. Still, it will be interesting to see how soon state prosecutors will start going over Democrat campaign finance records, since there is now legal precedent and a high-level conviction on the books.


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Comments (19)

Another corrupt Republican ... (Below threshold)
Highlander:

Another corrupt Republican politician bites the dust, convicted of a felony in a court of law. But don't worry, there's plenty more where that one came from -- Republicans showed a decade ago that they will do whatever is necessary to obtain and maintain power, fairness be damned.

"It only took five years, b... (Below threshold)
Doug:

"It only took five years, but Texas Democrats finally won a conviction against former House Majority Leader Tom Delay." Texas Democrats? What, all five of them? Sell your sob story of poor, victimized Tom Delay somewhere else.

He was just community organ... (Below threshold)
914:

He was just community organizing. More of the dems if you cant beat em' cheat em'.

In Barry lingo its called "... (Below threshold)
914:

In Barry lingo its called "stimulus".

What Highlander? No mentio... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

What Highlander? No mention of Charlie Rangel or Maxine Waters?

Delays tactical error was i... (Below threshold)
LiberalNitemare:

Delays tactical error was in not accepting Chinese campaign donations.

How about William Jefferson... (Below threshold)
John:

How about William Jefferson, Ms Conyers, the idiot that was mayor of Detroit, just to name a few democrats with less than stellar criminal records and less than ethical behavior. How about the lovely Mr John Edwards, now there's an upstanding guy if I ever saw one. I see this as the problem with the amount of money and power the political class has given themselves at our expense. Less power, less money, less government fewer theives.

Delay was convicted in Stat... (Below threshold)
Rick Caird:

Delay was convicted in State Court because the law was specific to Texas. Texas law specifies that corporations cannot contribute to state campaigns.

It is not at all clear what will happen on appeal. Delay was well within the law to contribute his campaign funds, no matter what the source, to the RNC and the RNC was well within Texas law in donating its funds, no matter what the source, to state candidates.

Delay was convicted for using a middle man (the RNC) but while that may violate the spirit of the law, it does not seem to violate the letter of the law. Since money is fungible, the question becomes if the RNC, or any organization, is required to know the original source of any money it donates. I suspect the answer is no.

Lets stop beating around th... (Below threshold)
914:

Lets stop beating around the bush. Delay was convicted for being CONSERVATIVE. Secondly for hammering the leftist swine time and time again.

I've never cared for the "e... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

I've never cared for the "everybody does it" defense. As far as I'm concerned, half of congress should be in jail. Unfortunately, the convictions are generally one-sided.

Highlander, you're a buffoon. As long as Al Gore is walking around free, you have nothing to crow about.

How about prosecuting Ronni... (Below threshold)
Stan:

How about prosecuting Ronnie Earle for malicious prosecution? He couldn't get an indictment from the first or second grand jury, so he called a third one and got what he wanted. I also think the judge who took this atrocious miscarriage of justice to trial should be impeached too. That will never happen either.

He was convicted of taking ... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

He was convicted of taking money collected as campaign contributions to elect Republican candidates, giving it to the Republican National Committee (who are tasked with getting Republicans elected), who then in turn contributed to Republican candidates running for office.

Pardon me while my outrage takes a yawn.

Considering it took three grand juries and a new law, interpreted widely by the presiding judge and a Democratic state legislature to make it retroactive in order to convict doesn't seem at all frightening to people?

#12Yet a ... (Below threshold)
914:

#12

Yet a sitting president can orchestrate vote fraud on a nationwide scale and not a damn thing is done about it!!

Yeah, something is wrong with this picture.

Charlie Rangel will burn fo... (Below threshold)
LiberalNitemare:

Charlie Rangel will burn for this

I don't give a crap about D... (Below threshold)
David Spence:

I don't give a crap about Delay. He was the tone-deaf, ignorant, "self-made lightning rod" who screwed-up the '94 repub wave. We need to purge our ranks of this type pol who cares more about burnishing his reputation as a bad-ass than party success. I'm trying to recall any legislative accomplishments-probably dwarfed by his proclivity for being a 24/7 ass.

I live in Texas and do know... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

I live in Texas and do know that the prosecutor went through three grand jury's to try to indict Tom Delay. No of them indicted. He then put together a forth and they did. When Delay was indicted, he stepped down. Not like democrats who still stay in office even after they molest kids, run a homsexual whorehouse out of his apartment, or not pay taxes and claims to property. They all stay in because the dem's have no moral core. They are internally correupt. Conservatives do not pardon bad behavior. We demand they step aside.

After saying that, I am sure the appeals courts will see the political persecution in this. ww

I'm not saying he's innocen... (Below threshold)
Name: Mark:

I'm not saying he's innocent, but do you think the fact that the presiding judge jammed the jury with the ultimatum to either come to a verdict or face the prospect of being sequestered on Thanksgiving just MIGHT have affected the outcome?

If he was a Democrat he wou... (Below threshold)
rick g:

If he was a Democrat he would have gotten to keep his job in the House and at the most received Censure. Simply a case of belonging to the wrong Party.

@9: "Delay was convicted fo... (Below threshold)
daniel rotter:

@9: "Delay was convicted for being CONSERVATIVE."

Never knew (until now, that is) that "conservative" is synonymous with "money launderer."




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