Former Congressman and DWTS contestant Tom “Twinkle Toes” DeLay, can now say that he is firmly in exactly the same position as the three members of the New Black Panther Party whose offenses were also cleared by the Department of Justice earlier this summer: they’ll not file charges against neither DeLay nor the New Black Panthers.
You see, like the New Black Panther members that stood in front of a polling place with baseball bats on Election Day, Tom DeLay is as guiltless as a newborn lamb.
Try telling that to Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg. Lehmberg is set to return to court next week to pick up where retired DA Ronnie Earle left off in trying to hang a prison sentence around DeLay and his two henchmen John Colyandro and Jim Ellis for money laundering.
A pre-trial hearing is set for August 24th, the first hearing since this past April when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused to throw out the money laundering indictment against Colyandro and Ellis. Had they done that, Ellis, Colyandro and DeLay would have all been off the hook.
The lawyers representing Colyandro and Ellis argued that the money laundering law that they were accused of having broken was “too vague.” The law, they said, didn’t say anything about laundering checks. The $190,000 they were accused of laundering, they said, all came to them in checks.
That is, when you launder money, we’re talking cash. Checks are OK. Here is what the Court said about cash versus checks and vagueness:
“With respect to the appellants’ vagueness claims, the court of appeals concluded that the Election Code provisions, though broad and complex, were not so indefinite as to deprive a person of ordinary intelligence of the ability to understand what was prohibited.”
That’s a compliment, by the way. The Court went out of its way to rate the intelligence of Colyandro and Ellis as at least ordinary.
So Tom DeLay can breathe the sweet air of freedom as the Feds have backed off. Maybe he will share a brewsky with the NBPP members who he now finds himself with some shared experiences.
But given the fact that the 9 appellate court justices were unanimous in this decision last April, DeLay would be well-advised to breathe deeply of those freedom-bearing molecules. The Feds may have decided that things are well in hand in Texas and that it would be too costly as well as redundant to make a federal case out of it.