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Second grand jury returns new indictment against Tom DeLay

By J. Lyn Carl,

Austin, TX –

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle today trumped U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's attorney's attempts to have a criminal conspiracy charge against DeLay dismissed by announcing yet another grand jury indictment against the Texas congressman.

An indictment last week by a Travis County grand jury forced DeLay to step down from his Majority Leader post in the U.S. House.

Insult was added to injury today as yet another Travis County grand jury handed down an indictment of DeLay on a new charge of money laundering, a first degree felony charge. He was also indicted on a charge of criminal conspiracy, a second degree felony.

The indictment today as well as the one last week accuse DeLay and two political associates - John Colyandro, executive director of the Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee (TRMPAC), and James Ellis, executive director of Americans for a Republican Majority - of violating state election laws that prohibit corporate contributions to election campaigns. They accuse the three of funneling the money to the Republican National Committee through a political action committee as a means of skirting the prohibition.

Earlier today, DeLay's attorney argued that the conspiracy statute was not in effect relative to the Texas Election Code until after it was amended by the Legislature, and did not go into effect until Sept. 1, 2003. The elections in question took place in 2002. Thus, argued DeLay attorney Dick DeGuerin, the charges should be dismissed.

In DeGuerin's pleading, he argues that the Texas Conspiracy Statute is part of the Texas Penal Code. The conspiracy statute was added to the Election Code, effective in September, 2003. "Before September 1, 2002," states the filing, "the Conspiracy Statute was NOT applicable to the Texas Election Code."