Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 26, 2010

TOM DELAY, CONVICTED FELON.... Late Wednesday afternoon, disgraced former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) picked up a new title: convicted felon. A New York Times editorial summarized the story nicely.

During his tenure leading House Republicans, Mr. DeLay established a new low in ethical conduct among Congressional leaders. He put family members on his campaign payroll, took lavish trips paid for by lobbyists and twisted the arms of K Street lobbyists to ante up and donate to his party's candidates and hire more Republicans. But his conviction on Wednesday came from something else entirely, a scheme to steer corporate contributions to Republicans in the Texas Legislature.

Texas bans corporations from giving money directly to state candidates, just as federal law does at the national level. But Mr. DeLay figured out a way around that barrier: In 2002, he used his state political action committee to channel $190,000 in corporate contributions to the Republican National Committee, which then donated the same amount to seven Texas House candidates.

The scheme wasn't lacking in ingenuity. Texas had completed its post-2000-census redistricting, but DeLay wasn't satisfied with the way in which state lawmakers had drawn the lines. So he hatched a plan without modern precedent, deciding to pursue re-redistricting. But in order to hatch his gambit, he'd need some more GOP allies in the Texas legislature, so he arranged to launder some corporate money into the accounts of seven Republican candidates.

Six of them won; re-redistricting occurred; and the GOP majority in Congress grew, just as DeLay had planned.

The minor flaw in all of this is that DeLay's scheme happened to be a felony, at least according to prosecutors and the members of a Texas jury. DeLay's defense was largely built around the notion that he didn't know about the money-laundering until after it had occurred, but prosecutors pointed to a 2005 interview with investigators in which the right-wing lawmaker said he was aware of the plan in advance. (DeLay later said he misspoke.)

At this point, DeLay is free on bail, leading up to his Dec. 20 sentencing. The convictions could carry a maximum penalty of life in prison, though no one considers that likely. DeLay's fate, at least in the short term, is in the hands of Senior Judge Pat Priest, who may end up giving him probation. In the meantime, of course, DeLay is appealing the ruling.

As for the larger context, it's hard not to feel a sense of schadenfreude about the developments. Tom DeLay has represented American politics at its worst -- corruption, sleaze, deception, and routine abuses of power. Whatever the outcome of the appeal, Wednesday's conviction couldn't have happened to a more appropriate person.

It's also worth noting that the political establishment's approach to DeLay was, in light of the jury's conclusion, quite wrong. We've been told for years that the case was a partisan witch-hunt, launched by a prosecutor intent on "criminalizing politics."

As of late Wednesday afternoon, the conventional wisdom on DeLay is in need of an overhaul.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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Comments

Maybe it's not OKIYAR?

Posted by: SteinL on November 26, 2010 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe it's not OKIYAR?

Appreciate the optimism, but I expect DeLay will spend no time in jail, and will rake in the cash for his martyrdom to conservative principles.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on November 26, 2010 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah , he will commiserate with the post PBS clown . The two of them will provide incisive analysis of who , what , why , when and , how they just naturally hate Democrats .

Posted by: FRP on November 26, 2010 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK
As for the larger context, it's hard not to feel a sense of schadenfreude about the developments.

I find it to be schadenfreudelicious.

Posted by: navamske on November 26, 2010 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

DeLay will spend zero time in prison. His conviction merely gives republic-baggers another example of what they use so well -- victimization. The meme will be more fully developed by Beck, Limbaugh and Hannity next week and goes something like this: "A patriotic Speaker of the House was taken down by petty liberal thugs who hate America".

Posted by: Bo on November 26, 2010 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

So I'm sure the redistricting will become null and void defaulting to pre-criminalized districting, and DeLay will spend years in prison with a cell mate named Bubba.

Oh, what's that you say? Tom DeLay will get off scot free and the redistricting will stand?

Sorry no schadenfreude here.

Posted by: AndThenThere'sThat on November 26, 2010 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

It's about time. Now, maybe, he can dance with the boys in D Block where he belongs.

Posted by: max on November 26, 2010 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

What are the odds that Rick Perry pardons DeLay?

Posted by: Jim Ramsey on November 26, 2010 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

How delicious would it be if Tom DeLay had to do "HAMMER-TIME!!!"
Especially if he has to share a cell with a 300lb, angry and violent, weightlifting, gay Muslim Democratic entomologist who's in jail for life sentenced on cannibalism charges!
SAAAAWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET!!!!!!

I know he won't, and this won't happen. But, it's nice to dream once in awhile...

Posted by: c u n d gulag on November 26, 2010 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

Sigh. Prison -- last refuge for rape and homophobia jokes. Not funny, actually.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on November 26, 2010 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Tweety will be depressed. As nauseating as it was to see him pander to the felon Matthews was at his very worst when he licked Delay's butt while soft balling him with questions. Wonder how Tweety sleeps at night? Like Glen Beck.

Posted by: stevio on November 26, 2010 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Steve writes:"American politics at its worst -- corruption, sleaze, deception, and routine abuses of power. "

-I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, that there is gambling in Rick's!

Posted by: DAY on November 26, 2010 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

What are the odds that Rick Perry pardons DeLay?

More likely some court will cite the Citizens United case and conclude that there is nothing wrong with corporations giving money to political campaigns, even if the legislatures decided to make it illegal, and even if there was a strong effort by Delay to circumvent the law by laundering the money.

Posted by: Danp on November 26, 2010 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

As of late Wednesday afternoon, the conventional wisdom on DeLay is in need of an overhaul.

Conventional wisdom needs an overhaul, indeed. Tom Delay hatch's a scheme that breaks state law in order to effect national representation and what's the weighty consequence?

Senior Judge Pat Priest, who may end up giving him probation....

We all know that is what he's likely to get. And Perry will be waiting in the wings ready to pardon the sentence but not the conviction a la Bush.

Yes, this will send a chilling message to Republicans. Seriously fuck around with representation and democracy in this country and we'll put you on........... probation.

Posted by: Tired of That on November 26, 2010 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

"Tom DeLay has represented American politics at its worst"

And then along came Shrub, Cheney and Turdblossom - true felons and war criminals no one in the "justice" department will even investigat for fear of inciting the felon party.

Posted by: chopin on November 26, 2010 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

hells littlest angel,
Actually, you're right. It's NOT funny!
And I should know better, I spent 3+ years teaching in a Maximum Security Prison in upstate NY years ago.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on November 26, 2010 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

Verdict announced on Wed afternoon before Thanksgiving, well after the midterms. Hmmmm.

The court system in Texas is as much a part of the machine as the rest of the government. Sounds like they had to convict in the face of overwhleming evidence, but I'm with those expecting him to either win on appeal on a technicality, get probation, or be pardoned (in decreasing order of likelihood).

Posted by: Basilisc on November 26, 2010 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

"DeLay's scheme happened to be a felony, at least according to prosecutors and the members of a Texas jury"

No, it's not a matter of opinion or what someone happens to believe; see the "members of a Texas Jury" part above. DeLay has conclusively been determined to be a felon as a mater of law. He is a criminal.

Posted by: bloviator on November 26, 2010 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

"Criminalizing politics" is what's done by performing criminal activities to gain political advantage, and then afterward claiming that "it's just politics" and therefore immune to prosecution.

Frankly, it's brilliant. Tom Delay is clearly "a political prisoner." This is what comes of a political party that knows how to finesse the semantics, knows every rhetorical trick in the book, and moreover, has no reluctance to make up facts ... and then attach them to half-truths, to give them unwarranted plausibility.

In all seriousness: the truth just can't compete. And it's a national tragedy that those of us who actually CAN string two thoughts together, write prose and images that grab and motivate people, and ARE lib/progressives are too good to involve ourselves in Democratic politics.

Dem sympathizers and sometime voters are hooked on cynicism, despair and snark every bit as much as Rep voters are hooked on rage.

Posted by: zandru on November 26, 2010 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

He's shown no remorse. Quite the opposite. I think that should be grounds for a real sentence. Do we really want felons scolding society for find them guilty?

Posted by: Bob M on November 26, 2010 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

He'll have his own TV show on Fox soon enough.

My former mayor of San Diego, Roger Hedgecock, had to resign in a corruption scandal but is now a successful right-wing radio show host. All is forgotten if you're a Republican.

Posted by: Speed on November 26, 2010 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Ollie North, Dick Morris, Bill "loofah" O'Reilly, Judith Miller - now that Tom Delay has earned his bona fides, he'll settle right in over there at that FAUXNEWS station! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on November 26, 2010 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Has Meet the Press booked the 'convicted felon" for Sunday yet?

Posted by: ckelly on November 26, 2010 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Thoae damn liberal Texas judges will probably just give him a slap on the wrist. What ever happened to law and order, mandatory sentences and all that sort of thing.

Posted by: nonheroicvet on November 26, 2010 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Delay will spend no time in jail. You need to understand something about Texas law. Down there, it is perfectly legal for a defendant to give campaign donations to a judge while that judge is hearing his case. So $500K before the verdict, another $500K if the judge gives DeLay probation. Yes, it's buying a sentence, but that's perfectly legal in Texas. Texas most certainly has the best judicial system that money can buy. And I mean buy.

Posted by: fostert on November 26, 2010 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

DeLay's fate, at least in the short term, is in the hands of Senior Judge Pat Priest

Nice to see she found work after The Munsters ended.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on November 26, 2010 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

I hope he gets a cellmate who REALLY enjoyed watching him on "Dancing with the Stars."

Posted by: Kevin Carson on November 26, 2010 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Roy Blunt (R-MO) claims DeLay was just a targeted 'victim'. He just can't seem to get it in his head that DeLay is a convicted felon...guilty of a crime.

But then Roy Blunt doesn't consider any of his mis deeds 'crime's either. I'll bet he considers DeLay a victim only because he got caught doing what Blunt and his pals do all the time being that his biggest contributor is Phillip-Morris Tobacco where his son and son's wife are both lobbyists...in this day and age where it's been proven how poisonous and toxic cigarettes really are. Ethics...ha.

Laundering money for Pakistan donors in exchange for nuclear secrets according to whistleblower for CIA (Cybil Edmunds) who was gagged so couldn't mention Blunt's name but did put his picture up on her web site without naming him-ha. To Blunt nothing is wrong as long as you don't get caught and DeLay getting caught for what they all do means he was just a "targeted victim".

Legal permission or not what kind of human seeks permission to torture...or even thinks like that...liars who should be in prison.

Posted by: bjobotts on November 26, 2010 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

As of late Wednesday afternoon, the conventional wisdom on DeLay is in need of an overhaul.

I'm not one to praise the purveyors of conventional wisdom, but in fairness, even conventional wisdom held that DeLay was a first-class shitbird for a long time prior to his conviction. There were a few Republicans who defended him while he was Majority Leader on the grounds that he was their shitbird, or that every party has its shitbirds, or that he might be a shitbird but he's right about ______. But the moment he lost power, they cut him loose faster than you can say "Trent Lott."

But yeah, "convicted shitbird felon" is now the new standard for accuracy.

Posted by: Matt on November 27, 2010 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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