Arrest warrant issued for Tom DeLay

Thursday, October 20, 2005

An arrest warrant was issued on Wednesday for former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Bail was set at US$10,000 ahead of his scheduled court appearance in Austin, Texas for two separate charges of money laundering and conspiracy.

The warrant is being treated as a procedural formality of law, and court officials said DeLay was expected to go to Fort Bend County Jail in his district near Houston for booking, but this has not yet been confirmed. The warrant lists two felony charges, conspiracy and money laundering in a campaign finance scheme tied to his political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority. Texas law forbids the use of corporate money in political campaigns. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Friday before state District Judge Bob Perkins.

DeLay has denied any wrongdoing. He is accused of laundering $190,000 in corporate campaign contributions through the Republican National Committee for distribution to Republican candidates for the Texas Legislature in 2002. The money helped the Republicans to take control of the Texas Legislature, which then redistricted congressional voting boundaries. As a result this lead to an expanded majority of the house Republicans.

In response to questions DeLay's lawyer Dick DeGuerin characterized the warrant as "a matter of routine" and assured that "bond will be posted". The warrant followed a series of grand jury indictments handed down in late September and early October and prompted DeLay to step down temporarily as house majority leader.