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, contained two counts. The money laundering charge carries a penalty of up to life in prison. The charge of conspiracy to launder money is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Last week, DeLay was charged with conspiracy to violate campaign-finance laws, forcing him to leave his leadership position.
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.
“Ronnie Earle has stooped to a new low with his brand of prosecutorial abuse,” DeLay said in a statement. “He is trying to pull the legal equivalent of a ‘do-over’ since he knows very well that the charges he brought against me last week are totally manufactured and illegitimate. This is an abomination of justice.”
DeLay and two political associates are accused of conspiring to get around a state ban on corporate campaign contributions by funneling the money through the DeLay-founded Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee to the Republican National Committee in Washington. The RNC then sent back like amounts to distribute to Texas candidates in 2002, the indictment alleges.
DeLay attorney Dick DeGuerin said the money spent on Texas candidates was “lawfully collected from individuals who knew what they were contributing to.”
The indictment alleges that DeLay knowingly aided the transfer of the corporate money to help the GOP win a majority in the Texas Legislature.
Once the Republicans had secured control of the Legislature, state lawmakers adopted a DeLay-engineered congressional redistricting plan that gave the GOP a stronger grasp on Congress as well.
DeLay’s associates, John Colyandro of Austin and Jim Ellis of Washington, were each previously indicted on charges of conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws and money laundering.
The judge who will preside in DeLay’s case is out of the country on vacation and couldn’t rule on the defense motion. Other state district judges declined to rule on the motion in his place.