In 2005, Tom Delay, along with 2 others, were convicted by a Texas jury of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering through his re-channeling of corporate funds to pay for campaign financing. Today, the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals overturned this conviction, stating that prosecutors "failed in its burden to prove that the funds that were delivered to the seven candidates were ever tainted."
The original case was filed by Texans for Public Justice and tried by the Travis County district attorney's office. The group claimed that DeLay and his political action committee collected contributions from corporations, the most notable of which being Enron, in the total of $190,000. Campaign finance laws state that this money cannot be used in the same state to finance campaigns. Thus, DeLay and two staffers sent said money to the RNC, which then dispersed the same amount of money to 7 Texas House candidates.
The Republican candidates who won election using this money then want on to influence important redistricting legislation in Texas, resulting in increased numbers of Republicans in the House of Representatives in Washington D.C., where DeLay was Majority Speaker.
Before the original jury handed out the verdict, they had asked whether or not it was still considered money laundering if the funds were not obtained through illegal means originally. Justice Melissa Goodwin, who wrote the majority opinion for the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals, stated that "The jury's questions to the trial judge ... point to the lack of evidence showing that the funds involved in the transaction were the proceeds of criminal activity."
The Travis County district attorney's office released the following statement concerning the ruling:
"We strongly disagree with the opinion of Judges Goodwin and Gaultney that the evidence was insufficient. We are concerned and disappointed that two judges substituted their assessment of the facts for that of 12 jurors who personally heard the testimony of over 40 witnesses over the course of several weeks and found that the evidence was sufficient and proved DeLay's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. We are preparing a response to this opinion and will ask the full Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to review the ruling."
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this appeal victory, however, is that the two other people who were originally indicted by the Texans for Public Justice case plead guilty to the accusations. This can only result in one questioning how DeLay can be innocent if his two compatriots were obviously guilty.
When asked if he would use his pronounced innocence to return to Washington, DeLay said that he most likely would not because "There's too much other things that the Lord wants me to do." DeLay has been spending his time working with a new national prayer organization, and was meeting with groups whenever he was called to receive the good news: "We were all basically on our knees praying and our lawyer calls and says, 'You're a free man,' " said DeLay.
Texas, Jesus, and Tom DeLay - 1, Liberal Do-Gooders - 0.
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