Texas judge dismisses part of DeLay indictment

HOUSTON - A Texas judge dismissed part of a criminal indictment against US 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.

The charges are part of a widening political scandal around DeLay, who has been accused of several ethical violations in recent years and whose former top aide and press secretary, Michael Scanlon, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bribe public officials in a separate case in Washington.

DeLay has denied any wrongdoing in the case involving his Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee (TRMPAC) and has said the case was a Democratic plot to remove him from power because of his success in advancing a conservative political agenda.

DeLay and colleagues Jim Ellis and John Colyandro are accused of laundering US$190,000 ($267,530) in corporate donations to TRMPAC through the RNC for distribution to Republican candidates to the Texas Legislature in the 2002 state campaign.

TRMPAC helped the party take control of the state legislature in 2002 for the first time since the post-Civil War Reconstruction era.

Under DeLay's guidance, the legislature then redrew congressional districts to increase the number of Republicans elected to Congress from Texas.

Texas law forbids the use of corporate money in political campaigns.

A number of other leading Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Sen. Bill Frist, are also being investigated for alleged financial wrongdoing.

- REUTERS

 

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