The DeLay indictment

The charge against the House majority leader doesn't say what "overt act" he might have committed to further a criminal conspiracy. The district attorney says it doesn't have to.

Published September 28, 2005 6:37PM (EDT)

We've just received a copy of the indictment filed today against Tom DeLay and his associates, John Colyandro and James Ellis. If you're dying to read the fine print, here it is:

"The Grand Jury of the County of Travis, State of Texas, duly selected, organized, sworn, and charged as such at the April term, A.D., 2005, of the 147th Judicial District Court of said county, in said court at said term, upon their oaths do present that on or about the thirteenth day of September, A.D., 2002, in the County of Travis and State of Texas, John Dominick Colyandro, James Walter Ellis and Thomas Dale DeLay, the defendants herein, with the intent that a felony be committed, did enter into an agreement with one or more of each other or with a general purpose political committee known as Texans for a Republican Majority PAC that one or more of them would engage in conduct that would constitute the offense of knowingly making a political contribution in violation of Subchapter D of Chapter 253 of the Texas Election Code, a violation of Sections 253.003 and 253.094 and 253.104 of the Election Code, in that said contribution was made directly to the Republican National Committee, a political party, during a period beginning sixty days before the date of a general election for state and county officers and continuing through the date of the election, and indirectly to candidates for the Texas House of Representatives, and that said contribution included a prohibited political contribution by a corporation."

The indictment charges that Colyandro, Ellis, and DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority PAC performed "overt acts in pursuance of the agreement," by (1) accepting $190,000 in corporate contributions from Diversified Collection Services, Inc., Sears, Roebuck and Co., Williams Companies, Inc., Cornell Companies, Inc., Bacardi U.S.A., Inc., and Questerra Corporation; (2) turning those contributions over to the Republican National Committee through a $190,000 check made payable to the Republican National State Elections Committee; (3) providing a representative of the RNC with a document that "contained the names of candidates for the Texas House of Representatives and amounts to be contributed to each of the said candidates, namely, Todd Baxter, Dwayne Bohac, Glenda Dawson, Dan Flynn, Rick Green, Jack Stick, and Larry Taylor"; and (4) requesting, soliciting and proposing that the RNC and the Republican National State Elections Committee make political contributions to those legislative candidates.

While the indictment does not charge that DeLay himself engaged in an "overt act" in furtherance of the conspiracy, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle just said at a press conference that he's not required to allege any such act to bring a charge against DeLay. It is enough to charge that DeLay entered into the conspiracy and that others took overt acts in furtherance of it, he said.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

MORE FROM Tim Grieve

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Tom Delay War Room