After six days of testimony, prosecutors in the corruption trial of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay have yet to directly tie DeLay to an alleged money-laundering scheme that benefited Texas Republicans in 2002.
But, according to the Austin American-Statesman, they hope to change that today by introducing DeLay’s own words, in the form of a statement he gave to investigators before he was indicted in 2005.
According to prosecutors, DeLay’s Texas PAC, Texans for a Republican Majority, funneled $190,000 in corporate donations to the Republican National Committee, which then gave the same amount to several Republican candidates for the Texas statehouse. Corporate donations to political campaigns are illegal in Texas.
At the time, DeLay told investigators that he knew about the $190,000 money transfer at the center of the case before it was made.
DeLay later said he misspoke, and did not know about the transfer until after it was made.
“They hung the indictment on one statement that they twisted,” DeLay told reporters outside the courtroom this week.
Since his indictment five years ago, DeLay’s defense team has repeatedly accused the Travis County district attorney of a political crusade against him. Prosecutors deny this.
So far, the prosecution has called 22 witnesses. Those witnesses have included former employees and fundraisers of the PAC, who testified that DeLay was not closely involved in the day-to-day-operations and that they accepted corporate money, but only for legal administrative costs. Three of the candidates DeLay allegedly helped also testified, saying they believed the donations were made legally.
Lobbyists for the corporations that made the donations, include Sears and Bacardi, have also testified, saying they donated to the PAC in order to get closer to DeLay.
DeLay’s defense team used the lobbyists’ testimony to try to prove that the charges are politically motivated by attacking the DA who indicted DeLay. The former DA, Ronnie Earle, in 2005 dismissed charges against four corporations that made political contributions. Critics alleged that Earle dropped the charges in exchange for donations to the LBJ School of Public Affairs, for a program on corporations’ role in democracy.
The donations, to the tune of $250,000, were made but the program never materialized. Earle resigned as DA last year.