The Austin Chronicle

The Indictment Tango

By Richard Whittaker, September 22, 2009, 4:54pm, Newsdesk

Oh, isn't it all so grand? Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay can dance! Woo-hoo! Oh, hang on, isn't he still under indictment? Yes, he is, and it's still a serious issue. It just seems like this season of Dancing With the Stars will finished before the court case.

According to the Travis County District Attorney's office, here's the current situation. DeLay is still under criminal indictment in Travis County, along with former Texans for a Republican Majority PAC executive director John Colyandro and former Americans for a Republican Majority PAC executive director Jim Ellis, over allegations that they illegally funneled money to candidates through the Republican National State Elections Committee. That case is now with Senior District Judge Pat Priest, who has thrown out a count against DeLay of conspiracy to violate election law, but still has yet to rule on the money laundering and conspiracy to money launder indictments. Even with fewer charges, the case is moving slowly.

The hold up comes from the incredibly complex decision from the 3rd Court of Appeals in the Colyandro-Ellis case in August 2008 that, under the old election code, money laundering didn't include checks. However, the DA kinda won because the court upheld the constitutionality of the old election code, which means they are still facing indictments for multiple election code violations.

Confused yet? You will be.

So both sides are treating that as a sort-of victory, or at least grounds for another fight. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals accepted appeals from both the DA (which argues that money laundering should be covered) and from Colyandro and Ellis (who want the constitutionality of the election code to be overturned).

Priest is waiting for the result of that hearing before proceeding. If the criminal court holds that checks should be included, then the money laundering charges will proceed; if not, then DeLay's defense will ask for their motion to quash be granted. Either way, just don't hold your breath that ol' Twinkle Toes Tom will be in court any time soon.

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