Tom DeLay still fighting for his freedom
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is still fighting for his freedom. He was convicted of money laundering in January 2011 and then sentenced to three years in prison. But DeLay's appeal is about to head to court.
DeLay was a member of Congress for 21 years. He rose to through the ranks of the Republican party leadership and was House majority leader when he resigned in April 2006. Since then, he's been fighting accusations that he took $190,000 of corporate money and funneled it illegally to Texas Republican candidates. And despite a conviction, he's adamant he did nothing wrong.
"This is the criminalization of politics at its worst," DeLay said.
He is never one to tread lightly. And he says he's the victim of a political prosecution, tried almost two years ago in what he called the Liberal Republic of Travis County.
"We're just trying to get people to look at the law. And we feel very confident that if they just look at the law, they will find that I was not involved in conspiracy to launder money or money laundering," he told us.
DeLay will get that chance. The Court of Appeals will hear his challenge later this fall. A hearing was postponed after DeLay's attorneys argued one of the three judges on the panel was biased. It was an argument they won.
"We're very happy that we have a panel of judges that I think will be unbiased," DeLay said.
"In a case that's as purely partisan as this has been, it's all the more reason for the playing field on appeal to be level. That's all we've ever wanted and now we're convinced that it is," said Brian Wice, defense attorney for DeLay.
Prosecutors are equally sure.
"We are confident in the case we tried and we are confident that we too will get a fair hearing," Travis Co. DA Rosemary Lehmburg told us by phone.
Whoever loses likely will appeal to the State Court of Criminal Appeals. And ultimately it could go to the United States Supreme Court. Neither side will concede defeat though DeLay admits it is something about which he's given a lot of thought.
"Have you even contemplated the thought of not winning this?" we asked DeLay.
He replied, "Oh, sure. Sure. And I'm very prepared for that. I draw my strength from my faith and I am ready for whatever the Lord brings."
DeLay's appeal date is not set yet, but his attorney expects it will be sometime in October.
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