There's more bad news for U.S. Representative Tom DeLay (R-TX-Sugarland): he just got indicted
by a Travis County, Texas grand jury for criminal conspiracy in connection with illegal corporate donations that helped Republicans take over the Texas state legislature. If convicted, DeLay would face up to two years in prison. Under the ethics rules, DeLay was forced to step aside as House Majority Leader. Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri replaced him.
DeLay -- known as "the Hammer" because he has used a combination of threats and favors to keep a narrow Republican majority in line for more than a decade -- said the indictment is "blatant political partisanship." Speaking at a news conference in Washington, he called Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, a Democrat who is leading the investigation, a "partisan zealot" who is using his office for "personal revenge."
DeLay is the first House majority leader to be indicted since the post was created in 1899, according to Fred Beuttler, the deputy House historian.
Two former campaign aides, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, were also charged with conspiracy by the state grand jury in Travis County, according to the single-count indictment.
The charge stems from an investigation into alleged use of illegal corporate contributions by DeLay's political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, in the 2002 races for the state House of Representatives.
The four-page indictment charges that DeLay conspired with Ellis and Colyandro to use donations from companies including Williams Companies Inc. and Sears, Roebuck and Co., now Sears Holdings Corp., to help finance the election campaigns of seven members of the Texas House in 2002. Under Texas law, corporations aren't permitted to donate to candidates.
Rumors were swirling around Capitol Hill that Representative David Dreier (R-Calif.) was in line to take over for Delay during his impending trial. But apparently, the idea of electing the first gay Republican
House Majority Leader was too much for the Republican caucus, and they went with the more low-profile House Whip, Blount.
Delay is telling anyone that will listen that the whole thing is a set-up, that the D.A. hates him and is doing this for revenge, etc. etc. But the indictments keep piling up around Delay and his cronies. And if one of them turns on him, well this may be one political mess that he can't wiggle out of.