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Tom DeLay Conviction Overturned

2-1 decision of 3rd Court says state didn't prove case

By Jordan Smith, 11:05AM, Thu. Sep. 19, 2013

Tom DeLay outside Travis County court, before his November 2010 conviction, overturned today by the Third Court of Appeals
Tom DeLay outside Travis County court, before his November 2010 conviction, overturned today by the Third Court of Appeals
Photo by John Anderson

Nearly three years after he was convicted of money laundering by a Travis County jury, a three-judge panel of Texas' Third Court of Appeals has overturned the judgment against former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, opining that the state simply did not prove its case.

Writing for a two-judge majority, Judge Melissa Goodwin concludes that the state did not prove the elements of the crime of money laundering in its case against DeLay, which charged that he had channeled funds from corporate donors into Texas House races in 2002 in violation of state election law that bans corporate donations. "Practically speaking, lawful corporate contributions to the administration of a [political action] committee ultimately support the committee's principal purpose, and funds given for the administration are not transformed into 'proceeds of criminal activity' merely because the funds were from corporations," she wrote.

"Based on the totality of the evidence, we conclude that the evidence presented [by the state] does not support a conclusion that DeLay committed the crimes that were charged," she concluded in writing for herself and Judge David Gaultney, tapped from the 9th Court of Appeals to hear the case.

In dissent, Chief Judge Woody Jones concluded that the state had proven its case, in part because the corporate contributions in question did not fit into any of the then-defined exceptions to the no-corporate-contributions rules. "The lion's share of the corporate contributions to [the Texans for a Republican Majority PAC] in the present case do not fall within any of the categories authorized" by the election code, he wrote.

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