Because things were getting boring, another heated political battle had to come to head this week:
A Texas grand jury today indicted Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) on a criminal count of conspiring with two political associates to violate state campaign finance law, and DeLay announced he would temporarily step down as House majority leader.
The indictment was disclosed in Travis County, Tex., on the last day of a grand jury investigating a campaign financing scheme involving allegedly illegal use of corporate funds.
DeLay, 58, attended a meeting in the office of House Speaker Dennis Hastert shortly after receiving word of the indictment and said afterward he notified Hastert that he would “temporarily step aside” as majority leader. GOP House rules require that any member of Congress who is indicted must step down from a leadership position. However, there is no requirement that DeLay leave his congressional seat.
In the indictment, DeLay is accused of conspiring with two associates: John D. Colyandro, the former executive director of a political action committee in Texas that was formed by DeLay, and James W. Ellis, the head of DeLay’s national political committee. Colyandro and Ellis had previously been charged in an indictment that did not name DeLay.
At the heart of the case are corporate contributions of about $190,000 that prosecutors allege were essentially laundered by DeLay and his associates through transfers from a federal fund into a state fund.
DeLay has denounced the investigation as politically motivated, noting that the Travis County district attorney, Ronnie Earle, is a Democrat.
Project Nothing has a big round-up of reactions.