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More on the DeLay indictment

As the old legal saying goes, you can indict a ham sandwich. This maxim is meant to be taken figuratively, I presume, but if any prosecutor were ever to indict an actual ham sandwich, my money would be on Ronnie Earle (Legal trivia: Is there anyone else in the history of American law who has ever indicted himself?)

Many conservatives rushed to DeLay's defense after the indictment was handed down yesterday. I held my fire, because I neither like nor trust the guy, and I've thought for a long time that the Republicans would be better off without him.

That does not mean that I believe this indictment has merit, however. It may well be politically-motivated BS -- or not. We shall see. But in the meantime, please note that it's not merely right-wing pundits and bloggers who find DeLay's indictment to be on the "thin" side -- today's Washington Post weighs in as well. The Post is no fan of DeLay, and they begin by stating the obvious -- that DeLay is no poster boy for congressional ethics. They go on, however, to express their reservations about yesterday's big bombshell:

Nonetheless, at least on the evidence presented so far, the indictment of Mr. DeLay by a state prosecutor in Texas gives us pause. The charge concerns the activities of Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC), a political action committee created by Mr. DeLay and his aides to orchestrate the GOP's takeover of the Texas legislature in 2002. The issue is whether Mr. DeLay and his political aides illegally used the group to evade the state's ban on corporate contributions to candidates. The indictment alleges that TRMPAC took $155,000 in corporate contributions and then sent a check for $190,000 to the national Republican Party's "soft money" arm. The national committee then wrote $190,000 in checks from its noncorporate accounts to seven Texas candidates. Perhaps most damning, TRMPAC dictated the precise amount and recipients of those donations.

This was an obvious end run around the corporate contribution rule. The more difficult question is whether it was an illegal end run -- or, to be more precise, one so blatantly illegal that it amounts to a criminal felony rather than a civil violation. For Mr. DeLay to be convicted, prosecutors will have to show not only that he took part in the dodge but also that he knew it amounted to a violation of state law -- rather than the kind of clever money-trade that election lawyers engineer all the time.

Mr. DeLay's spokesman said this month that "to his knowledge all activities were properly reviewed and approved by lawyers" for TRMPAC. If so, the criminal law seems like an awfully blunt instrument to wield against Mr. DeLay. If not, we look forward to seeing the evidence. In the meantime, as required by party rules, Mr. DeLay has stepped aside as majority leader. Whatever happens in the criminal case, perhaps this latest controversy will cause his colleagues to rethink whether he is, in fact, the person they really want as their leader.


They will not have to think much whether they want him as their leader, as he most likely will end up in jail.

I can't wait for the mug shots.

Where will they get him to do his perp walk?

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