On Thanksgiving eve, after a three-week trial on two felony counts of illegally laundering corporate cash into Texas elections, the jury pronounced him guilty. Tommy-the-Powerful is now Tommy-the-Felon.
What happened is that DeLay finally got exposed as an ethically-unhinged lawmaker willing to run political errands for corporations that fund his political ambitions. The story of his fall, however, is really the story of a few people who stood up to power and did what’s right.
First came the feisty crew at Texans for Public Justice, a watchdog group that tracks the corporate money in politics. In 2002, they noted that a DeLay front group had given $190,000 in corporate funds to the national Republican party, which then sent the exact same sum to seven Texas candidates. This smelled like a dirty laundering job, so TPJ went to the district attorney.
That DA was Ronnie Earle. Foes demanded (and even friends urged) that he not touch this case – DeLay is too powerful to defeat on such charges, they said. But Earle could also sniff the stink, so he launched his own investigation. DeLay squealed, squirmed, and stalled, but Earle weathered it all – and in 2005, DeLay was indicted.
This November after five more years of ducking and dodging, DeLay finally had to face a force that he couldn’t buy or intimidate: a jury of 12 ordinary citizens.
DeLay whined that the jurors were Democrats out to get him. But half were independents or Republican. Indeed any one juror has the power to stop a verdict. But none did – after three days of careful deliberation, they voted unanimously to convict Mr. “I-Am-The-Government.”
"Two wrongs don't make a right, but three left turns do." --Jim Hightower