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A Travis County grand jury today indicted U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on one count of criminal conspiracy, jeopardizing the Sugar Land Republican's leadership role as the second most powerful Texan in Washington, D.C.The charge, a state jail felony punishable by up to two years incarceration, stems from his role with his political committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, a now-defunct organization that already had been indicted on charges of illegally using corporate money during the 2002 legislative elections
WASHINGTON - A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep.
Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, forcing the House majority leader to temporarily relinquish his post.
DeLay, 58, was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee.
"I have notified the speaker that I will temporarily step aside from my position as majority leader pursuant to rules of the House Republican Conference and the actions of the Travis County district attorney today," DeLay said in a statement.
GOP congressional officials said Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., will recommend that Rep. David Dreier (news, bio, voting record) of California step into those duties. Some of the duties may go to the GOP whip, Rep. Roy Blunt (news, bio, voting record) of Missouri. The Republican rank and file may meet as early as Wednesday night to act on Hastert's recommendation.
Criminal conspiracy is a state felony punishable by six months to two years in a state jail and a fine of up to $10,000. The potential two-year sentence forces DeLay to step down under House Republican rules.
My first response to this is - "YEsssSSSSSsssss!!!!"
My second response is just how quickly the other cockroaches in congress start to scurry now that the light has been turned on? At this point in time there are only 5 Republican members of the House who have not received funds from Delay's ARMPAC or given to his criminal defense fund. (Joe Swarz-MI, Tom Osborne-NE, Todd Platts-PA, Frank R. Wolve-VA and Mark Kirk-IL) /
With his primary crony Jack Abramoff already under indictment we could begin to see the entire house of currupt cards that has propped up this Congress begin to fall. Timing wise, this may be a bit early to have a serious impact on the '05 elections unless more and more scandals are discovered and more and more of Delay's inner Circle are brought into the mess. But then again, as these types of things tend to be quite draw out, it could be just about a year before Delay goes on Trial - and wouldn't that just be just peachy during election time?
Full Text of Indictment courtesy of FindLaw.