Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
The Department of Justice may have dropped its case against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, but he's not off the hook entirely—at least just yet. DeLay still faces criminal money laundering and conspiracy charges for funneling money into 2002 state legislative races in Texas. The criminal case is up for a hearing next week.
The scheme was part of DeLay's 2003 effort to redraw the state's Congressional map to favor Republicans, as state legislators must approve redistricting changes. As the AP reminds us, DeLay and his two co-defendants are accused of funneling $190,000 in corporate money through the Republican National Committee, then back to state legislative candidates, in violation of state law. DeLay blames the "politics of personal destruction" for the charges against him. "I know this is the price of leadership, but it doesn't have to happen this way...I still have a trial to go through," he told reporters Monday, referring to the Texas case. "I'm hoping to win that. I know I will."
Both cases against the man-formerly-known-as-the-Hammer have spent years churning through the system, but the timing of DeLay's Texas case seems particularly apt, as the next round of redistricting will happen nationwide in 2011, to reflect population changes recorded in the 2010 Census. The American Prospect's Paul Waldman has a good overview of the new organizations, both Democratic and Republican, that have raised millions to put their party in a better position for 2011. Stay tuned for my own story on the next big redistricting battle.