HOUSTON — Tom DeLay, who was forced out as Republican House majority leader in 2005 because of felony money laundering charges, was exonerated Thursday by a Texas appeals court.
The Texas 3rd Court of Appeals said the evidence in the case was “legally insufficient,” and in a 2-1 vote, the court cleared DeLay. The conservative Delay had represented a Houston district, and as House leader earned the nickname “the Hammer” for his iron-fisted control of his colleagues.
In 2011, a jury convicted DeLay, now 66, of helping to funnel corporate money to Texas candidates. He was accused of conspiring with two associates to use his Texas-based political action committee to send a check for $190,000, raised from corporate donors, to the Republican National Committee. The RNC then sent the same amount to seven candidates for the Texas House of Representatives.
Prosecutors had argued that the money helped the GOP take control of the Texas House, which redrew congressional districts so that more Republicans were sent to Congress in 2004, strengthening DeLay’s power. DeLay, who was sentenced to three years in prison, was free on bail while appealing his conviction.