Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Tom DeLay indicted, steps down temporarily as a house leader.
The accusations, by a Democratic DA, are that he conspired to have a PAC funnel $100 grand of corporate contributions. Could face up to six months.
This is a situation where a bright guy tried to follow the rules, followed his lawyer's advice, and got busted anyway. I am skeptical of his guilt, but open-minded.
Some of his duties are being picked up by LeRoy Blunt, the GOP's #3 man in the house.
I don't like Blunt. In 1992 he illegally kept my friends laura and tony off the ballot.
In Missouri ex rel Coker-Garcia v Blunt, the court said we were right and Blunt was wrong, but did not order any meaningful relief. I was probably naive in thinking the courts could be used to fix injustices by the election officials against the little guy.
Google shows 500 articles on the DeLay story.
Mother Jones article, while hostile, has more info than most.
DeLay is/was majority leader, and arguably more powerful than the Speaker of the House. He has raised 12 million. Under Texas law, he's allowed to raise corporate funds for administrative expenses. He claims, reasonably I think, that the money was spend on administrative purposes. There was nothing in the newspaper article saying otherwise. I'll read further in the Mother Jones.. developing...
Delay is linked somehow to Jack Abramahof, a lobbyist whose over the top antics have been getting a lot of attention. Abrahahof is doing the same stuff the whiteshoe law firms do. DeLay is somewhere in the middle between business as usual and not following the "honor among theives" ethical codes of those who deal in political capital. "Master of the Senate" told a story like that; how a ruthless texan politico used Texas business money to buy his way to control of the Senate and beyond.
When I was a kid I was in one of those Youth and Government programs and got to sit in the Speaker's Chair in our state house and play speaker for a weekend. A little taste of power like that can lead to wanting more.
Lou Dubose is the former editor of the Texas Observer, where he followed the career of George W. Bush. He has cowritten two Bush books with Molly Ivins, Shrub and Bushwhacked; he is the coauthor, with Jan Reid, of the just-published The Hammer: Tom DeLay: God, Money, and the Rise of the Republican Congress. Nothing in the article says the money wasn't spent on administrative costs. I lean towards innocent until proven guilty on this one - I would need to see more.
update: volokh has the indictment, in pdf.

A few thoughts: Why would DeLay have waived the statute of limitiations? The check in question was just over 3 years old at the time of the indictment.
update: oh, because they would have had it ready by the deadline.
It looks like the corporate and noncorporate funds were commingled in the same account. That's legal, but unadvisable. In order to make the case, the state will have to prove that there was an offense, and that there was intent. It's not clear whether there was either.

There's a strong defense as to the corporate contributions. There's a possible charge of making a contribution too close to the election; Texas may have rules about when bribes have to be in by. It's not exactly up there with stealing babies or horses. It's a paperwork felony. I'm not overly impressed.
Now the general idea is, reformers are aware that democracy is for sale to the highest bidder, that people like DeLay are the whores that work the system, so the reformers have come up with all sort of rules about what color tghe checkbook has to be and which dates the bribes have to be paid by, and the rules are too complex for anyone to follow, including their drafters. McCain with the McCain ad that screwed up the disclaimer.
But this "reformed" system is unjust. If you want to make rules, make them simple and comprehensible.

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