UPDATE 10-4-05: In response to the DeLay team's motion to dismiss the conspiracy endictment, Travis County DA Ronnie Earle got a newly-seated grand jury to indict DeLay on charges of money laundering. If at first you don't succeed ... Details and good legal analysis at PowerLine.
Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has been indicted by a grand jury in Travis County, TX on charges of conspiracy. You can read the full document (it's only 4 pages long) at The Smoking Gun.
The gist of the criminal activity alleged in the indictment involves corporations contributing money to a political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, which in turn contributed money to several state campaigns. In Texas, under Subchapter D of Chapter 253 of the Texas Election Code, it is now illegal for a corporation or a labor organization to make a direct contribution to a political candidate if the election is less than 60 days away.
Interestingly, the bulk of the indictment implicates James Ellis and John Colyandro as the architects of the plan. DeLay is only mentioned in the defendent's list at the beginning of the endictment, and in the conclusion of the indictment, presumably because he is the founder of Texans for a Republican Majority. DeLay is not mentioned anywhere in the description of the commission of the alleged crime, so it is difficult to understand how he conspired with Ellis and Colyandro to funnel money to political campaigns. In addition, the Texas law cited in the indictment specifically applies to corporations and labor organizations; the indictment contains no charges against corporations or labor organizations.
What we are seeing here is yet another example of what I call "Watergate Syndrome," which is the belief that election losses can be offset by scandal-mongering and criminal allegations. Both parties have suffered from this syndrome, although the Democrats have seemed to come down with the most serious cases in recent years.
The Democrats will try to score political points with this scandal, and God forbid if a DeLay arraignment photo ever gets released -- we'll see it more often than that stupid picture of Lynndie England pointing at the naked Abu Graib prisoner, with a cigarette dangling out of her mouth.
But I would caution Democrats to be careful what they wish for -- campaign finances are a very, very dangerous place to start poking around. When DeLay was smeared in April as a fatcat who put friends and relatives on his payroll, it only took hours for conservatives to find numerous stories linking Democrats to similar behavior.
And how many of you remember this? From Roll Call:
"A controversial fundraising committee run by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was slapped with a $21,000 fine by the Federal Election Commission for enabling Pelosi to funnel more than $100,000 in illegal contributions to Democratic candidates in late 2002 as she was vying to become Democratic leader." (emphasis added)
Despite the fact that Democrats feel that they have "defeated" DeLay because of this indictment, they should remeber that the conservative blogosphere and talk radio media share are both very large. Again, it will only take a few days to dig up just as large a pile of dirt on prominent Democrats.
Anybody wonder how MoveOn.org distributed George Soros' millions?
UPDATE: This could be the first counterpunch by the GOP; these were linked to Drudge on Friday:
You should read the story about the film crew and their project, "The Big Buy." Apparently these guys are angling to be come the left's next Michael Moore (I could make a snarky comment here about the fact that it takes two guys to equal Moore, but I won't). Their film, according to their website, "follows maverick Austin DA Ronnie Earle's investigation into what really happened when corporate money joined forces with relentless political ambitions to help swing the pivotal 2002 Texas elections, cementing Republican control from Austin to Washington DC." There's that word "maverick" again.
This whole DeLay thing is starting to look less and less objective to me.