Wednesday, September 28

TOM DELAY: "SKUNKY INDICTMENT" OR THE REAL DEAL?

The "Houston Chronicle" (registration required) is reporting that House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX) of Sugar Land, Texas, has been indicted by a Travis County, Texas, grand jury on a single felony count.

Excerpts from the Chronicle story follow:

A Travis County grand jury today indicted U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Sugar Land on a single count of felony criminal conspiracy involving an exchange of money that made corporate cash available to Republican Texas House candidates in 2002.

The indictment alleges that DeLay conspired with two of his political associates, John Colyandro of Austin and Jim Ellis of Virginia, to convert $190,000 in corporate money into individual campaign contributions through a transfer of funds using the Republican National Committee.

Colyandro and Ellis last year were indicted on a money laundering charge involving the transfer. They were reindicted earlier this month to add a criminal conspiracy charge each.

In taking its action today, the grand jury reindicted Colyandro and Ellis on criminal conspiracy charges and added the charge against Delay. Criminal conspiracy is a state jail felony.

One of Delay's lawyers, Bill White, said prior to the indictment being returned that the facts of the case would not support an indictment against DeLay.

"It's a skunky indictment, if they have one, a dead skunk in the middle of the road, stinking to high heaven," White said.

The investigation focuses on the activities of a political action committee Delay formed in 2001 — Texans for a Republican Majority.

It was run by Colyandro with the assistance of Ellis, who is the director of Delay's Americans for a Republican Majority.

TRMPAC raised and spent almost $650,000 in corporate money to influence the 2002 Texas House races. State law restricts the use of corporate and labor union money in races for elective office.

The indictment claims Delay, Ellis and Colyandro conspired to raise $190,000 in corporate money for TRMPAC. The money was then sent to the Republican National Committee and was converted into donations from individual donors, which would have been legal under Texas law for use by a candidate.

The RNC then sent the money to seven specific Texas House candidates, the indictment alleges. Two of the Republicans listed in the indictments are from the Houston area, state Reps. Dwayne Bohac of Houston and Larry Taylor of Friendswood.


Delay is adamant that he did nothing wrong.

"I have done nothing wrong ... I am innocent," DeLay told a Capitol Hill news conference in which he repeatedly criticized the prosecutor, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle. DeLay called Earle a "unabashed partisan zealot," and "fanatic," and described the charges as "one of the weakest and most baseless indictments in American history."




SOURCE: Houston Chronicle story by R.G. Ratcliffe and Janet Elliott

FOLLOW-UP: This from Kevin Whited of "blogHouston.net" quoting from an Associated Press (AP) story, as well as the "Austin-American Statesman." Kevin also links to several press releases from the offices of U.S. Representative Delay. Here's Michelle Malkin's coverage. And Sean Hackbarth weighs in in this post at "The American Mind."

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