Lawyers for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) tried unsuccessfully in late September to head off felony criminal indictments against the then-majority leader on charges of violating Texas campaign law by signaling that DeLay might plead guilty to a misdemeanor, according to four sources familiar with the events.
The lawyers' principal aim was to try to preserve DeLay's leadership position under House Republican rules that bar lawmakers accused of felonies from holding such posts. DeLay was forced to step down as leader on Sept. 28 after the first of two grand jury indictments.
The last-minute negotiations between the lawyers and Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle were arranged after DeLay made what Earle considered a seriously damaging admission about his fundraising activities during an Aug. 17 meeting with the prosecutor in Austin.
At that session, DeLay acknowledged that in 2002 he was informed about and expressed his support for transfers of $190,000 in mostly corporate funds from his Texas political action committee to an arm of the Republican National Committee in Washington and then back to Texas, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition that they not be named.
I’d have to agree with Smith’s assessment that Earle might not win a money laundering charge. However, if the courts find that DeLay is liable for conspiracy charges, I think that’s provable.