Wednesday, September 28, 2005

DeLay Indicted

From the New York Times / AP:

A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, an indictment that could force him to step down as House majority leader.

DeLay attorney Steve Brittain said DeLay was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay’s national political committee.

The indictment against the second-ranking, and most assertive Republican leader came on the final day of the grand jury’s term. It followed earlier indictments of a state political action committee founded by DeLay and three of his political associates.

The grand jury action is expected to have immediate consequences in the House, where DeLay is largely responsible for winning passage of the Republican legislative program. House Republican Party rules require leaders who are indicted to temporarily step aside from their leadership posts.

However, DeLay retains his seat representing Texas’ 22nd congressional district, suburbs southwest of Houston.

DeLay has denied committing any crime and accused the Democratic district attorney leading the investigation, Ronnie Earle, of pursuing the case for political motives.

Democrats have kept up a crescendo of criticism of DeLay’s ethics, citing three times last year that the House ethics committee admonished DeLay for his conduct.

I can think of at least one or two Republicans who are privately doing the Myposian Dance of Joy over this news. If he goes, there goes the biggest target the Democrats have had for the mid-terms since Newt Gingrich. And some people in his own party just think he’s a jerk.

Mr. DeLay claims he’s the victim of a political witchhunt. Oh, the irony.

Note also that this is a criminal conspiracy charge; that means if he’s convicted, it’s not just a fine; he could end up in the joint married to the guy with the most cigarettes.

Rumor has it that the next in line to be House Majority Leader is Rep. David Dreier of California. That could prove to be an interesting choice. Why, you ask? Hmmm. Not that there’s anything wrong with it…