House GOP leader indicted, steps down


Richard Moore

if only they had indicted Bush as a co-conspirator!

DeLay Indicted in Finance Inquiry 
Texan Steps Aside as House GOP Leader as He Fights Conspiracy Charge 

By R. Jeffrey Smith 
Washington Post Staff Writer 
Thursday, September 29, 2005; A01 

A Texas grand jury indicted House Majority Leader Tom DeLay
(R-Tex.) yesterday on a charge of criminally conspiring with
two political associates to inject illegal corporate
contributions into 2002 state elections that helped the
Republican Party reorder the congressional map in Texas and
cement its control of the House in Washington.

The criminal indictment forced DeLay, one of the Republicans'
most powerful leaders and fundraisers, to step aside under
party rules barring such posts to those accused of criminal
conduct. House Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the third-ranking
leader, was elected by Republican House members yesterday
afternoon to fill the spot temporarily after conservatives
threatened a revolt against another candidate considered by
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).

Although the indictment had been rumored for weeks among top
Republicans, based on what several described as a difficult
meeting in August between DeLay and the Texas prosecutor
behind the case, it shook the GOP political establishment and
posed new problems for the party as it heads into the midterm
elections next year.

DeLay bitterly denounced the charge as baseless and defiantly
called the prosecutor, Ronnie Earle, "an unabashed partisan
zealot" engaging in "personal revenge" because DeLay helped
elect a Republican majority to the Texas House in 2002. "I
have the facts, the law and the truth on my side," DeLay said,
reading from a prepared statement, before declining to answer

But the indictment, which comes after three rebukes of DeLay
in 2004 by the House ethics committee on unrelated matters,
poses a major political problem for the 58-year-old Bush
administration loyalist, 11-term congressman, and
self-described champion of free enterprise and deregulation.
DeLay also faces a likely inquiry by the House ethics
committee into a series of foreign trips he took that were
initially partly paid for by lobbyists.

The indictment specifically alleges that DeLay, who helped
organize the Texas political committee at the heart of the
charge, participated in a conspiracy to funnel corporate money
into the 2002 state election "with the intent that a felony be

Using corporate funds for state election purposes has long
been illegal in Texas, as it is in 17 other states. Earle's
probe of the contributions began after 17 Republicans who
received the committee's funds were elected, giving the party
control of the Texas House for the first time in 130 years.
One year later, following a roadmap that DeLay and his
political aides drafted from Washington, the Texas House
approved a sweeping reorganization of the state's
congressional district map meant to favor Republicans.

Then, in 2004, five more Texas Republicans were elected to
Congress, enlarging the Republican majority in the House .

The facts of one of the central transactions at issue in the
case -- the transfer in September 2002 to an arm of the
Republican National Committee in Washington of $190,000 in
corporate funds collected by the committee in Texas and the
subsequent donation by the RNC arm of $190,000 to seven Texas
House candidates on Oct. 4, 2002 -- have never been in

Earle has long alleged that this transfer was intended to
circumvent the Texas law. A copy of the relevant check from
the Texas committee has been in his hands for more than a
year, and he has repeatedly said the committee supplied the
RNC with a list showing which Texas candidates should
eventually be paid the funds.

Some evidence collected in a related civil case has pointed to
heavy involvement by DeLay in the operations of the Texas
committee. Its start-up was financed by a transfer of
corporate funds from his leadership fund. He was a member of
the Texas committee's advisory board in 2001 and 2002,
participated in its strategizing, appeared at its fundraisers,
and signed its solicitations. He also attended dinners with
corporate donors that agreed to contribute tens of thousands
of dollars to it; his fundraisers recorded the favors that
donors sought.

But DeLay has long denied participating in its day-to-day
operations and said that its activities were vetted by
lawyers. As a result, the key question in Washington and
Austin has been whether DeLay knew about the $190,000
transactions -- an allegation that lawyers say could be proved
only by documentary evidence, such as an e-mail, or in grand
jury testimony by one of those involved.

For DeLay to be guilty, he would have had to have both been
informed of the transaction and approved the transaction,
according to a source familiar with the details of case. David
Berg, a Houston-based trial lawyer who wrote a best-selling
legal textbook, said: "Politics in Texas is a real jungle, and
money of this sort, I would suspect, gets washed all the time.
[But] it would be illegal if [he] knew that corporate funds
were going to be laundered and used in the state races. . . .
I can't imagine somebody is not going to testify against
[him]. Otherwise all Ronnie Earle can prove is that everything
DeLay did is legal."

No evidence to support the conspiracy charge was cited in the
indictment, which says only that DeLay and two named
associates entered "into an agreement with one or more of each
other" or with the committee to conduct the funds transfer.
But Texas law permits such evidence to be left out of the
indictment, so it is rarely included.

The others named in the indictment were James W. Ellis, who
still runs DeLay's principal fundraising committee --
Americans for a Republican Majority -- and John D. Colyandro,
the former director of the Texas offshoot. Both were
previously charged with laundering money, an offense that can
bring a 10-year prison term, and with conspiracy to accept
illegal corporate donations.

The addition of DeLay to the conspiracy charge yesterday
suggests that some crucial piece of information or testimony
may have come into Earle's possession in the past few weeks.
The charge against DeLay carries a potential penalty of six
months to two years in state jail, and a fine of as much as

DeLay's attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said in the lobby of the
Austin Criminal Justice Center that DeLay is so confident of
his innocence that he will push for a swift trial. He said
DeLay did not participate in a conspiracy and the $190,000 was
spent "on proper things."

J.D. Pauerstein, an attorney for Ellis, said: "All of the
indictments handed down in this case are frivolous and
ridiculous. Our clients consulted election law experts,
followed their advice and reported every contribution" to the
Internal Revenue Service.

Colyandro, a veteran of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl
Rove's direct-mail firm, has long denied wrongdoing but lost
several court battles since the inquiry began to have the
relevant Texas election law declared unconstitutional. His
attorney in Austin, Joseph A. Turner, said that "this is
really a rehash of previous indictments" and that the lengthy
wait for it reflected the weakness of the prosecutor's case.

Regarding the $190,000 funds transfer from Texas to Washington
and the return of the same amount from Washington to Texas,
"Colyandro would say DeLay did not have any knowledge of that
transaction in advance," Turner said.

The new indictment came after a 34-month inquiry and was
issued on the final day the grand jury met, capping a series
of indictments that targeted eight corporations and an
industry group, the Texas Association of Business, alleged to
have worked with the Texas committee in collecting and
disbursing illegal corporate contributions.

DeLay waived a requirement that the indictment be presented
within three years of "the commission of the offense," the
document states; DeGuerin said DeLay did this under duress so
that he could put off an indictment weeks ago and keep trying
to persuade Earle not to bring one.

Earle told reporters that he brought the indictment to defend
the state's democratic system from undue corporate influence.
"The law says the duty of a prosecutor is to make sure justice
is done," Earle said, adding that the ban against corporate
contributions "is intended to safeguard democracy and make the
ballot box accessible to everybody, regardless of the amount
of money involved."

But DeLay spokesman Kevin Madden said ill motives lie behind
Earle's action: "They could not get Tom DeLay at the polls.
They could not get Mr. DeLay on the House floor. Now they're
trying to get him into the courtroom. This is not going to
detract from the Republican agenda."

House Speaker Hastert, surrounded by other GOP leaders, said
of DeLay: "He will fight this, and we will give him our utmost
support." Blunt complained about "this terribly unfair thing
that ha happened to him."

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said, "The
criminal indictment of Majority Leader Tom DeLay is the latest
example that Republicans in Congress are plagued by a culture
of corruption at the expense of the American people."

But White House spokesman Scott McClellan described DeLay as
"a good ally, a leader who we have worked closely with to get
things done for the American people."

"I think the president's view is that we need to let the legal
process work," he added.

"No jury can undo the outcome of Texas's 2002 elections,"
Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, said in
a news release. McDonald, whose complaint helped spark Earle's
investigation, continued: "But the justice system must punish
those who criminally conspire to undermine democracy -- no
matter how powerful they may be. If we are to be a
'democracy,' then powerful politicians cannot flout such laws
with impunity."

Staff writers Juliet Eilperin in Austin and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum 
and Amy Goldstein in Washington contributed to this report. 
© 2005 The Washington Post Company 

If you find this material useful, you might want to check out our website
( or try out our low-traffic, moderated email 
list by sending a message to:

You are encouraged to forward any material from the lists or the website,
provided it is for non-commercial use and you include the source.

Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland

"Apocalypse Now and the Brave New World"

List archives:

    "...the Patriot Act followed 9-11 as smoothly as the
      suspension of the Weimar constitution followed the
      Reichstag fire."  
      - Srdja Trifkovic

    There is not a problem with the system.
    The system is the problem.

    Faith in ourselves - not gods, ideologies, leaders, or programs.
Informative links: