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DeLay files appeal of his conviction

The man has been a boon for the defense bar, I’ll say that much for him.

Tom DeLay’s appellate lawyer tapped a movie musical and Shakespeare in a wide-ranging appeal that argues the former U.S. House majority leader was wrongly convicted of conspiring to launder corporate dollars into campaign donations.

In 2002, DeLay’s political committee sent a $190,000 corporate check to the Republican National Committee that, in turn, agreed to donate the same amount from its noncorporate account to Texas candidates. State law prohibits corporate donations to candidates.

The monthlong trial before a Travis County jury last fall turned on the question: Were DeLay and his co-defendants laundering corporate money, or making the kind of “money swaps” both parties had done in the past?

To sum up the legal points in Houston lawyer Brian Wice’s appeal: DeLay didn’t do anything as part of a conspiracy. If he did, it wasn’t a crime. If it was, he couldn’t have known it was a crime. And, besides, the ban against corporate donations is a constitutional infringement on free speech.

Wice also requested a hearing to explain it all.

Judge Pat Priest, a visiting judge from San Antonio, sentenced the Sugar Land Republican, who was once one of the most powerful leaders in Washington D.C., to three years in prison. DeLay remains free pending an appeal that could take months, if not years. Prosecutors have weeks to respond to the brief filed late Thursday.

I should note that convicted felon Tom DeLay had previously filed a motion for a new trial. I have no idea what the status of that is. Also, Judge Priest had previously recused himself from the trial of DeLay’s cronies Jim Ellis and John Colyandro. A new judge has been named, but I have no idea when that trial may get underway. We may all be dead from old age by the time this finally gets adjudicated.

I have to say, DeLay has good taste in attorneys. He had Dick DeGuerin at trial, and Brian Wice is one of the top guys for appeals. As the story notes, he has a decent chance of winning thanks to the ridiculous “checks aren’t cash” ruling the Third Court of Appeals made a few years ago, for which it later received a spanking from the Court of Criminal Appeals. I had never expected DeLay to be found guilty in the first place, so even if he is ultimately freed the fact that I have been able to refer to him as “convicted felon Tom DeLay” in the interim will still have been sweet. And he’ll always be a convicted felon to me, no matter what the courts ultimately say.

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3 Comments

  1. Jeannon Kralj says:

    Thanks for this article. I had to search quite a while to find out if Delay was in prison yet and if not, why.

    “To sum up the legal points in Houston lawyer Brian Wice’s appeal: DeLay didn’t do anything as part of a conspiracy. If he did, it wasn’t a crime. If it was, he couldn’t have known it was a crime. And, besides, the ban against corporate donations is a constitutional infringement on free speech.”

    Does not make any difference if Delay did it “as part of a conspiracy.” He did it and he was rightly convicted.

    Why wasn’t it a crime? The law says it is a crime.

    He definitely knew it was a crime because the law has been on the books in Texas for many many years.

    Right now the law says the ban against corporate donations is NOT a constitutional infringement on free speech.

    What I think is funny about this case is that the only reason Delay got caught this time, as compared to the many times this same money laundering transaction with the DNC and RNC has happened in the past, is because his PAC made an incredibly stupid and careless “mistake.” They sent $190,000 check to RNC and got checks totaling $190,000 cranked out to his buddies.

    Delay’s attorneys made the argument that the RNC had a “firewall” in their internal accounts and therefore argued it was not the same $190,000.

    I think the issue of money’s fungibility still needs to be addressed so that even if Delay had sent $190,000 to the RNC and the checks sent out by the RNC were for a total amount other than $190,000, a breaking of the law regarding corporate donations would have still occurred. If this matter of fungibility (or to say it another way, the money really goes in to one big pot) is never addressed in the courts, we will never have honest implementation of the law against corporate donations.

  2. […] here, here, and here for background. I seriously doubt this ruling would make any difference in the outcome of […]

  3. lewis swanson says:

    Tom Delay is a convicted felon. He should have been sent to prison the day the jury found him guilty It just goes to show how corrupt the court system is in this country.If you have money you can stay out of prison,even after you have been found guilty,by a jury.But if you are just a common person with very little,or no money, you will be sent to prison the day you are found guilty.Delay should be sent off,and serve every day of his three year sentence……..Today 11-2 12.

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