DeLay Indictment Stands (In Part)
HOUSTON (Reuters) - A Texas judge dismissed part of a criminal indictment against U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay on Monday, but upheld other charges that will put the powerful Republican lawmaker on trial for money laundering.
Texas District Judge Pat Priest dismissed conspiracy charges against DeLay and two co-defendants, saying the actions were not a crime at the time DeLay was charged with violating them.
But Priest upheld the money laundering charges against DeLay, who was forced to step down as House Majority Leader in September when he was first indicted for his role in the Texas campaign financing controversy.
So anyway, what are the ramifications? Well, as you may know, DeLay has stepped aside as majority leader in the House. (He's still there as a member, just not in the leadership.) As Josh Marshall points out, there will be new leadership elections in the House in January, and DeLay is likely to still be under indictment then. That means he can't run. The DCCC's Stakeholder has more on who could replace DeLay:
The three main factions should be something like the following:
A Boehner ticket, possibly with Tom Reynolds of the NRCC or Zach Wamp running for Whip, claiming to be cleaning up the House but really just replacing one K Street empire with another. A DeLay, Inc. ticket, featuring Roy Blunt and the DeLay deputies. This ticket will have the disadvantage of toeing the line between loyalty to DeLay and distancing themselves. DeLay will probably be angry if they do anything short of promise him his spot back if they win, which would in turn be enough to sink their chances for sure. And, of coursethere's Abramoff Third will be the Wingnut Caucus, or the Republican Study Committee led by Mike Pence and featuring Jeff Flake as hatchetman recently. These are the extreme conservatives who most recently brought you cuts to food stamps to pay for high-end tax cuts. They're going to be fun, they fight rough and they've already started taking shots at the other two...``We can't afford to be portrayed as `K Street conservatives,''' Flake said, referring to the Washington area that is home to many lobbying firms and trade groups. ``That's what we're looking like.''
So you either get DeLay's K-Street Gang, the Rival K-Street Gang, or the Wingnuts. They all sound like losers to me. But, of course, I'm biased.
Anyway, legally speaking, it's undeniably good news for DeLay that the conspiracy charge was thrown out. Personally, I feel DeLay is one of the worst sort of slimebags in politics and it wouldn't surprise me if he were convicted, but he might not be. In that case, I doubt I could vote for Ronnie Earle again. If you're going to strike at DeLay, you have to take him down completely. Otherwise, he'll take you down. I want my DA to do what's right, but I want him to be a smart politician as well.