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Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay convicted of money laundering

A jury on Wednesday found former Republican U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, dubbed “The Hammer” for his autocratic style, guilty of money laundering and conspiracy.

DeLay was accused of conspiring to illegally funnel $190,000 in corporate campaign donations to Republican candidates for the Texas Legislature in the 2002 elections.

“The public officials people elect to represent them must do so honestly and ethically, and if not, they will be held accountable,” said Travis County Dist. Atty. Rosemary Lehmberg.

DeLay faces five to 99 years in prison for the money laundering conviction and two to 20 years for a conspiracy count, plus fines. He is free on bond until his sentencing in a Texas state court Dec. 20.

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“This is an abuse of power; it is a miscarriage of justice. I am very disappointed. But it is what it is … and we will carry on. Hopefully we can get this before people who understand the law,” DeLay said after the jury gave its verdict.

“We will appeal,” DeLay attorney Dick DeGuerin said in an interview. “I’m afraid it was an emotional verdict because of all the money and politics, but we will eventually prevail.”

A former owner of a pest control company, DeLay was elected to the House of Representatives in 1984 and rose quickly through the ranks, earning a reputation as a master vote-counter and prolific fundraiser.

In 1994, DeLay was part of the “Republican revolution” that won control of the House for the first time in 40 years. He then got the job of House majority whip, making him the chamber’s third-ranking Republican.

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DeLay assembled a political machine that churned out narrow and largely partisan victories on legislation that included cutting taxes and easing federal regulations.

DeLay resigned from the House in 2006 after being linked to Jack Abramoff, a former Republican lobbyist snared in a federal investigation of influence peddling on Capitol Hill. Two of DeLay’s former aides pleaded guilty to corruption. DeLay denied any wrongdoing.

DeLay had stepped down as majority leader the previous year after he was indicted in Texas on the campaign finance charges.

During the 2006 congressional election, Democrats criticized DeLay’s actions, saying that they illustrated a pattern of corruption in the Republican-led Congress. Democrats won the 2006 election and took back control of Congress.


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