Campaign Finance

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay Sentenced to Three Years

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…but out on bond pending appeal, could be a long time before he starts serving his time. Details from the New York Times:

The sentence comes after a jury in November convicted DeLay on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The Republican who represented the Houston area was once one of the most powerful people in U.S. politics, ascending to the No. 2 job in the House of Representatives. During a several-minute statement to the judge prior to sentencing, DeLay repeated his longstanding claims that the prosecution was politically motivated and that he never intended to break the law….

DeLay's lawyers have also submitted more than 30 character and support letters from friends and political leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and eight current U.S. congressmen. Most of the letters ask for leniency in the sentencing.

After a month-long trial in November, a jury determined that he conspired with two associates to use his Texas-based political action committee to send $190,000 in corporate money to an arm of the Washington-based Republican National Committee. The RNC then sent the same amount to seven Texas House candidates. Under Texas law, corporate money can't go directly to political campaigns.

Prosecutors claim the money helped Republicans take control of the Texas House. That enabled the Republican majority to push through a Delay-engineered congressional redistricting plan that sent more Texas Republicans to Congress in 2004, strengthening DeLay's political power.

Undoubtedly DeLay as a former leading congressman is a criminal. Whether this particular interpretation of a law blocking free support and expression in politics is a proper bludgeon, I'd say no.

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  1. Given the number of times Ronnie Earle had to convene grand juries to get a charge to stick, I’m not surprised they managed to finally get him on something. 3 felonies a day, people.

  2. Yeah I’m sure that without this less than 200 grand, Texas would have voted a bunch of Democrats.

    In 2004.

    With George W. Bush on the ballot.

    Against John Kerry.

  3. Thank God for the taxes that pay the prosecutor’s salary.

  4. I’m no fan of The Hammer (he was extremely effective, after all), but isn’t it a little scary that you can go to jail for raising money for political candidates? Why the hell not just make the whole process wide open, require disclosure of where the money comes from, and let candidates explain why they take money from Big Evil Corporashun X? If it’s so damned unpopular, the candidates who take corporate money will suffer at the ballot box.

    Nah, nevermind. Centralized power arbitrarily enforcing laws sounds way more fun.

    1. No, no, no. Jim Adler is the Hammer. His billboards and shitty TV ads will tell you so.

    2. It’s scary that professional politician, advised by multiple lawyers didn’t know for sure if he was or was not breaking the law.

      But Mr. Delay was part and parcel of the process that created that situation. I’ll save my sympathy for someone who deserves it, even if I point my ire at Mr. Earle.

      On the whole, I’m always please so see the political class forced to note that it might happen to them. Maybe they’ll prefer to write simple and clear law in the future. But I won’t hold my breath.

  5. As much as I loathe coming to the defense of this creepy man, the fact is that he’s the victim of a “judicial” system run by petty and revanchist ideologues.

  6. This does bring to mind Al Capone going up on tax evasion, doesn’t it?

  7. Undoubtedly DeLay as a former leading congressman is a criminal.

    Truer words were ne’er spoke: politicians literally and self-evidently as crooks is a meme that needs wider acceptance.

    1. He was already a criminal, just being a congressman.

      Having said that, three years for a non-violent offense is a waste of prison space.

  8. The presumption of gilt.

    1. I see what you did there! Machines of Loving Grace are from Tucson, so you’re being topical!

      1. Who knew?

        1. I did. Duh.

          1. I stand corrected.

    2. This is now the #2 Google hit for “presumption of guilt”. Congratulations, sort of.

      1. Difficulty typing tonight, apparently. “Presumption of gilt”.

        1. I’m surprised it’s not more widely used.

  9. DeLay deserve justice…but I choose not to give him my sympathy.

    Tulpa and Swede are now screaming to high heaven because of this.

    And they think I am inhuman and a sick bastard because of my choice.

  10. No doubt Tom DeLay is a scummy politician, but this prosecution – and subsequent conviction – stink like a dead skunk in the road. The national Democrat Party hated him and got a local prosecutor in Texas to keep throwubg charges against the wall until something stunk.

    He probably did technically break the law – but it’s a bad law and it was a political operation all along designed to settle a score. I feel sorry for the guy.

    1. He may not deserve to be convicted or serve time and it may be a done but never ever ever feel sorry for Tom Delay…

    2. Hate the process, but don’t feel sorry for the guy. He was responsible for more shitty legislation getting passed than just about anybody.

  11. The fear of going to jail or being assassinated would ideally weed out some of the political trash….

    1. The fear of going to jail or being assassinated would ideally weed out some of the political trash….

      This is an interesting theory. The rise of the ability (cheap guns vs swords) to kill ones leaders have paralleled the rise of liberal democracy….but it is also easy to find particular political movements that have shown inverse results. The violence of brown shirts beat off much of the opposition to the rise of Hitler….and the left are no strangers to using violence and threat of violence in successful attempts at power grabs.

    2. The fear of going to jail the stocks or being assassinated tarred and feathered would ideally weed out some of the political trash….

      Disclaimer: I am not advocating these quaint punishments, however effective, for anyone in particular, however deserving.

  12. So, no one else is puzzled that DeLay was sentenced to jail time for the conspiracy-to-commit-money laundering charges, but not the actual money laundering charges?

    Shat does that say about anything? I would speculate that, since a probated sentence would be harder to appeal, even the judge knows this is bs.

    1. Interesting Freudian slip there, “shat” should be “what.”

    2. What does Shatner have to do with this?

      1. The Shat is all things to all people.

  13. “could be a long time before he starts serving his time”

    Are you saying his sentence may be . . . DeLayed?

    *runs off stage*

    1. Sheesh!

      That’s so bad that I’m ashamed I didn’t think of it first.

      I must have been distracted by the schadenfreude.

  14. “but out on bond pending appeal, could be a long time before he starts serving his time”

    I guess that would be a…oh please…you all fill it in

  15. A few observations:

    1) This conviction is bogus. Legal campaign donations are not criminal proceeds, and so the money laundering statute does not apply. Even if it may apply under a strained interpretation, penal statutes are supposed to be construed in favor of the accused (it’s called the rule of lenity). This conviction is a farce.

    2) How could this have happened? DeLay was brought up on charges in Travis County, which is very liberal, by a notoriously grandstanding, Democratic district attorney. It’s profoundly disturbing to use criminal statutes as a bludgeon against political opponents by interpreting criminal statutes creatively, but that’s what happened here.

    3) To all those who are saying that they don’t feel sorry for DeLay: Well, you should. You don’t have to like his cutthroat politics or the policies he supports to feel sorry for anybody who gets railroaded in the criminal justice system. That attitude is exactly what feeds this type of abuse – a prosecutor identifies somebody they believe to be “bad” and keeps going after them with no regard for the law or fairness. You had just better hope that no prosecutor targets you as a bad man (or woman).

    Hopefully this gets overturned on appeal and DeLay doesn’t spend a day in jail.

    1. Excellent post, C. Bringing to mind the Iron Law:

      Me today, you tomorrow.

    2. To all those who are saying that they don’t feel sorry for DeLay: Well, you should. You don’t have to like his cutthroat politics or the policies he supports to feel sorry for anybody who gets railroaded in the criminal justice system.

      Bullshit.

      I do not have to feel sorry for the man to understand and demand that he deserve justice.

      note: by justice I mean he was not given justice because he did not get a fair trial and the charges are bogus.

      In fact i would go so extreme as to say that even murders and rapists, whom i despise, deserve justice.

      In fact I would go so insanely radical as to say justice should not have to require any sympathy at all and even that justice is better served when sympathy or lack of sympathy is ignored.

      I know this sounds completely bat shit out of this world crazy but it is what I believe.

  16. The problem is politicians’ power to regulate, not their ability to accept money.

  17. Tom Delay is a law-and-order asshole who supports the Drug War and SWAT tactics by the local law enforcement. People like him are responsible for countless unnecessary arrests and lives lost.

    Karma’s a bitch but she’s got a good sense of humor.

    1. I know Tom DeLay supports the drug war (virtually every mainstream politician does) but has he really specifically been in a position to support SWAT tactics by local law enforcement? And in any event, you have to give him a hand for opposing random drug testing of federal employees.

      Regardless, there’s a difference between disagreeing about what the law should be and convicting people of felonies based on acts that aren’t even crimes under the law. I find the latter to be far more disturbing.

  18. Wow…a politician who committed a crime got RAILROADED in our criminal justice system.

    Welcome to our world mr delay. Hope you and Bubba become really, really good friends.

    1. What was his crime, exactly? Please be specific. List the criminal elements. I’m really interested to hear this.

  19. Oh gawd don’t fall all over yourselves making excuses for Tom fucking Delay.

    OM, A liberal judicial conspiracy?

  20. Of all the really scuzzy things to be done to really scuzzy people…

    I keep thinking I should care, then I recall Tucson.

  21. The Republican who represented the Houston area was once one of the most powerful people in U.S. politics, ascending to the No. 2 job in the House of Representatives. ???? ??? ?????? ?????? ??????? ???? ??? ?????? ??????? During a several-minute statement to the judge prior to sentencing, DeLay repeated his longstanding claims that the prosecution was politically motivated and that he never intended to break the law….
    thanks
    DeLay repeated his longstanding claims that the prosecution was politically motivated and that he never intended to break the law….

  22. determined that he conspired with two associates to use his Texas-based political a

  23. a jury determined that he conspired with two associates to use his Texas-based political action

  24. area was once one of the most powerful people in U.S. politics, ascending to the No. 2 job in

  25. push through a Delay-engineered congressional redistricting plan that sent m

  26. judge prior to sentencing, DeLay repeated his longstanding claims that the prosecution

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