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October 04, 2005

Grand Jury invents new charge against Delay

From the Associated Press...

A Texas grand jury on Monday re-indicted Rep. Tom DeLay on charges of conspiring to launder money and money laundering after the former majority leader attacked last week's indictment on technical grounds.

The new indictment, handed up by a grand jury seated Monday, contains two counts: conspiring to launder money and money laundering. The latter charge carries a penalty of up to life in prison. Last week, DeLay was charged with conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws.

Defense lawyers asked a judge Monday to throw out the first indictment, arguing that the charge of conspiring to violate campaign finance laws was based on a statute that didn't take effect until 2003 - a year after the alleged acts.

The new indictment from District Attorney Ronnie Earle, coming just hours after the new grand jurors were sworn in, outraged DeLay.

For those of you unfamiliar which the specifics of what Delay is being charged with, let me summarize for you: Corporation gives donation to Soft-Money Organization group (a group which supports issues or parties but not individual candidates) Soft-Money Organization gives money to Political Party, Political Party gives money to candidate. Earle and his puppets on the Grand Jury are claiming that since Delay helped organize one of the numerous Soft Money Organizations which did this, then he's guilty of money laundering. For some reason Earle doesn't think any of the countless Soft Money Organizations which donated money to the DNC are also guilty of the same thing.

Quite a few people have also been indicted, but remember, and indictment means someone is simply charged with a crime, not that they've been found guilty of anything. In politics an indictment is a useful tool for corrupt politicians to use against those they oppose. The same lawmakers who write vague laws, turn around and have their buddies in the DA's office charge their opponents under those vague laws, knowing as soon as a judge sees it it'll be tossed out...but, for a few days or week or even months if the actual trial can be delayed that long, their opponent has the stigma of an indictment hanging over their heads, and even if it is tossed out, that they were indicted makes a nasty sounding charge to use against them when they run for re-election.

So far no one involved in the Soft Money Organization Delay was involved with has been convicted of anything related to Earle's latest political witch hunt.  It does seem convenient that the only judge Delay's attorneys can appeal to is out of the country on vacation. Interesting timing.

Michael Barone
Prosecutorial politics

...it is by no means clear that DeLay's associates violated the Texas law. Texas campaign law prohibits corporate contributions to state candidates. The charge is that DeLay's associates collected corporate contributions, sent them to the Republican National State Elections Committee, "a nonfederal component of the Republican National Committee," and that the RNC or the RNSEC sent about the same sum of money back to Texas candidates -- "exchanged" the money, in Earle's words at his press conference. But, unless DeLay's aides proceeded without legal advice -- highly unlikely these days for operatives of either party -- they were contributing money to a committee entitled to take and spend corporate cash, and then a committee that took only individual contributions sent money back to Texas candidates.

That's not illegal unless the Texas law expressly forbids it. It is a general legal rule that criminal laws are narrowly construed, against the government. If the government wants to criminalize conduct, then it must do so very clearly. Otherwise, a citizen could be sent to jail for doing things he had no way to know were criminal.

Was Earle acting out of political malice? There's strong evidence for that proposition, including some of his own recent public statements....

In the short run, and quite possibly the long run, the DeLay indictment will hurt Republicans nationally and give the Democrats ammunition to charge the Republican Party with corruption. »»»

Posted by Danny Carlton at October 4, 2005 07:16 AM

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Posted by: theroxylandr at October 4, 2005 10:37 AM

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