An appeals court Wednesday upheld a judge’s ruling throwing out a conspiracy charge against former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
DeLay, who announced this month that he is resigning his congressional seat, still faces a money-laundering charge and another conspiracy charge stemming from the financing of state legislative races in 2002.
A lower court judge dismissed one conspiracy charge against DeLay in December, agreeing with defense arguments that a conspiracy law did not cover election code violations when the offense allegedly was committed in 2002.
Prosecutors had urged a three-judge panel of the appeals court to reinstate the charge. They argued that Texas’ prohibition on using corporate money in political campaigns is a felony and should be subject to the state’s criminal conspiracy law.
DeLay, a Republican from Sugar Land, stepped aside as majority leader last fall after he was indicted in Texas. He won his GOP primary in March, but later announced he would resign from Congress in the coming weeks.
No trial date has been set on the criminal charges in Travis County. District Attorney Ronnie Earle’s office had no immediate comment on the ruling.
DeLay attorney Dick DeGuerin said he expects Earle will appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeals, the state highest court for criminal matters.
“We’ve been right all along that Ronnie Earle charged a crime that didn’t exist and there’s 30 years of precedent that backs that up,” DeGuerin said. “We want to get to trial and hope once we do, a jury will find Tom Delay didn’t do anything illegal.”