Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Developing... Conspiracy charges against DeLay?

Developing... Stay tuned here all day, folks. There's a growing buzz out of Austin since last night about today's wrap up of the grand jury in Travis County surrounding DeLay's TRMPAC. I'll be in New York City most of the day, but Meghan will be following developments. Drop me an email [ddonnelly at campaignmoney dot org] with any thoughts, ideas, interesting tidbuts, etc. -- I'll be getting email, or leave a comment below.

Here are two things you can do while you wait for more news:

1. Sign our petition to demand DeLay's resignation, and tell your friends to do the same.

2. Make a donation to a fund we're establishing to help advance this story if DeLay is named as a co-conspirator, indicted or unindicted, today. You can get help us get a critical jumpstart.

Here's how the Associated Press opens its story:

The Texas grand jury investigating House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's state political organization was completing its term Wednesday after demonstrating a recent interest in conspiracy charges that could bring more indictments.

Lawyers with knowledge of the case said the DeLay defense team was concerned that the Travis County grand jury might consider counts of conspiracy to violate the state election code.

Their concern was triggered when similar charges were handed down two weeks ago in an expanded indictment against two DeLay political associates. The associates were accused of conspiring to violate the state election code by using corporate donations for illegal purposes.

House GOP rules require any member of the elected leadership to step down temporarily if indicted, and it would be up to the rank and file to select an interim replacement. Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., could make a recommendation, whether choosing to elevate another member of the leadership or tapping an alternative to reduce the possibility of a struggle if DeLay were cleared and then sought to reclaim his post.

The Associated Press spoke to several lawyers familiar with the case, all of whom requested anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly. DeLay, R-Texas, said Tuesday that prosecutors have interviewed him. He has insisted he committed no crimes and says Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, a Democrat, was pursuing the case for political reasons.

Before the recent conspiracy counts, the investigation was more narrowly focused on the state election code. By expanding the charges to include conspiracy, prosecutors made it possible for the grand jury to bring charges against DeLay. Otherwise, the grand jury would have lacked jurisdiction under state laws.

Asked Tuesday what he had heard of any late developments, DeLay said Tuesday, "Not a word."


Also interesting is the palace intrigue that is perculating beneath the surface in the GOP caucus. Expect some fissures to widen. DeLay's recent comments about "ongoing victory" in controlling federal spending angered House conservatives, so look for someone from the Republican Study Group (Mike Pence?) to make a move for a coveted leadership post if DeLay is named today. Here's a snippet from the AP story:

House GOP rules require any member of the elected leadership to step down temporarily if indicted, and it would be up to the rank and file to select an interim replacement. Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., could make a recommendation, whether choosing to elevate another member of the leadership or tapping an alternative to reduce the possibility of a struggle if DeLay were cleared and then sought to reclaim his post.


Do you remember why House rules require a member step down? Because we and others organized after the 2004 elections to prevent the Republicans from repealing the "DeLay rule" and they backed down. We can shape this debate the same way.

UPDATE: Again, adding to his already well-established body of solid reporting, Laylan Copeland of the Austin American Statesman has a good round up of the legal issues in this morning's paper. Go read it...

1 Comments:

  • Well, it's official! The indictment has indeed been handed down! Score another one for the "good guys." Now, we have to pursue it and see that it "sticks." <*G*>

    By Anonymous Gillian, at 12:09 PM  

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