Eight years ago, the once-almighty Rep. Tom DeLay had to give up his majority whip title after Travis County DA Ronnie Earle indicted him on campaign finance fraud charges. “I have done nothing wrong,” said DeLay, as his enemies spun their eyes. Earle argued that $190,000 in corporate contributions to DeLay’s old TRMPAC were illegally laundered to other campaigns. Republicans generally agreed that DeLay was railroaded; Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity wrote the introductions to his 2007 memoirs. When he resigned from Congress, temporarily letting his district be won by a Democrat (in a very good year for the party), DeLay later explained that he “yearned to be free of the restraints of office to advance conservative causes and support Israel.”
But there wasn’t much movement support to be found for a member of the post-Gingrich pre-Tea Party leadership. In 2010, when DeLay was convicted on the money laundering charges, it was a little blip in the news cycle. Today an appeals court voted to overturn the conviction, and the way DeLay reacted suggests he was getting more support than we thought.
“This is an outrageous criminalization of politics and I’m so glad they wrote the ruling” the way they did, DeLay said today in the Capitol in Washington.
Delay said he had been praying at a nearby location known as the “C Street house” used by religious Republican lawmakers when he received word of the appeals court decision. He added that he raised and spent more than $12 million on legal fees.
The decision is here. The gist is that the law was clear enough and the evidence murky enough that the jury got it wrong.
As the prosecutor commented, the jury should not have been placed in the “uncomfortable position of trying to decide what the law is, which is not their job.” The jury’s questions to the trial judge, along with the prosecutor’s argument in response, point to the lack of evidence showing that the funds involved in the transaction were the proceed of criminal activity. The State did not prove the funds were “illegal at the start of the transaction” or “procured by illegal means originally,” as phrased by the jury in the two questions about the law. The lack of legally sufficient evidence that the funds were “proceeds of criminal activity” requires an acquittal.
After praying, after hearing the news, DeLay was welcomed back into a luncheon of Texas Republican members of Congress on the Hill.