The federal grand jury investigating the outing of Valerie Plame isn't supposed to wrap up its work until late October, but the Texas grand jury investigating the work of Tom DeLay's political action committee is finishing its term today. Will DeLay be indicted? The Associated Press says lawyers for the Republican House majority leader are "concerned."
For a time, the grand jury probe appeared to be focused on potential violations of the Texas elections code. But earlier this month, the grand jury indicted two of DeLay's associates -- Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority, and John Colyandro, the former executive director of Texans for a Republican Majority -- on conspiracy charges related to their work in the 2002 legislative races in Texas. The conspiracy charge may be a sign, lawyers have told the AP, that the grand jury is casting a net wide enough to ensnare DeLay himself.
The case revolves around charges that DeLay's associates tried to hide what would have been illegal corporate campaign contributions to Texas legislative candidates by laundering $190,000 through the coffers of the national Republican Party first. After the $190,000 from Texas arrived in Washington, $190,000 from Washington arrived in the campaign accounts of seven Republicans running for the Texas Legislature in 2002. The Republicans gained control of the Texas House that year, and DeLay used the Republicans' newfound legislative power to redraw the state's congressional districts and increase the number of Texas Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives.
DeLay has been interviewed by prosecutors in the case, but he said Tuesday that he had heard "not a word" recently as to whether he will be indicted. If he is, House rules would require the Republicans to replace him as majority leader, at least temporarily.