Wednesday, September 28, 2005
As RJ Ratcliffe reports in the Houston Chronicle, Rep. Tom DeLay has been indicted for criminal conspiracy by a Texas grand jury. Per the ethics rules of the House Republican caucus, DeLay stepped down for the time being from his position as House Majority leader.
The case stems from the 2002 Texas legislative elections. DeLay's PAC - Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC) - raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from corporations, then shipped that money to the Republican National Committee, which then shipped the money to seven Texas candidates. Texas law prohibits the use of corporate contributions for anything other than administrative expenses like rent and overhead.
Two former DeLay aides have already been indicted for money laundering in connection with the case, and were both reindicted today on conspiracy charges.
Corporate money has no place in elections. If shareholders, officers, or directors want to make contributions, they can do so as individuals. By funneling corporate money through a series of committees, DeLay and his cronies both appear to have broken Texas law and undermined the ability of Texas citizens to know who was funding those legislative races.
While DeLay has stepped down from his leadership position, further action may be necessary to preserve the integrity of democracy in Texas and the United States. While his fellow representatives may resist opening up an impeachment investigation into DeLay's alleged criminal activity (DeLay is one of the biggest sugar daddies in Congress for his fellow representatives), DeLay's alleged conduct may rise to the level that warrants impeachment. If impeachment is not appropriate, DeLay should resign if the charges against him should prove true.