One of the most powerful Republican politicians in Washington, D.C. during the George W. Bush presidency will now face a three-year prison term and 10 years of community service, as of Monday.
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, of Texas, was sentenced by State Senior Judge Pat Priest in Austin for a plot to redirect corporate campaign contributions to Texas legislative candidates. The additional community service sentence is the result of a separate felony money laundering charge. Originally, the money laundering charge carried an extra five-year prison term, but it was reduced by the judge.
The state of Texas, along with 21 other states, bans the use of corporate funds in its elections. Prosecutors found evidence of money transfers totaling $190,000 between the Republican National Committee, DeLay, and Texas state candidates. DeLay’s defense suggested that the money transfers did not indicate wrongdoing since the funds were replenished from a separate bank account.
DeLay has maintained his innocence since the charges were leveled against him in 2005. Even during the trial, DeLay showed no remorse and insisted that he acted within the lawful suggestions of his advisers.
“I can’t be remorseful for something I don’t think I did,” said DeLay in the courtroom. It was that lack of reflection that most likely caused his prison sentence.
DeLay’s career of public service dates back to 1978 when he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives. He moved on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1984 to 2006. His 22nd Congressional district covered an area just south of Houston. As a born again Christian, his personal beliefs strongly influenced his political decisions.
During his tenure in Congress, DeLay was known as one of the staunchest conservatives in Washington, D.C. He was elected House Majority Whip in 1995, shortly after the Republican takeover of Congress under President Bill Clinton. In 2003, he was elected to the House Majority Leader position. His leadership style was strict and he was known for successfully swaying the votes of other members of his party.
Since leaving Congress, DeLay has authored a booked titled, “No Retreat, No Surrender: One American’s Fight.” In addition, he founded a conservative political consulting firm. He also appeared as a contestant on the ninth season of ABC’s television program Dancing With the Stars.