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Ex-US House leader DeLay says conviction overturn means liberals failed

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said Thursday that the left and liberals "didn't accomplish their goal" after a Texas appeals court overturned his money laundering conviction, saying there was insufficient evidence.

The Texas 3rd Court of Appeals said in a 2-1 ruling that it decided to "reverse the judgments of the trial court and render judgments of acquittal." DeLay was found guilty in November 2010 of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering for helping illegally funnel corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002.

He was sentenced to three years in prison, but his sentence was on hold while his case made its way through the appellate process.

Speaking to Fox News at the U.S. Capitol in Washington shortly after the decision was announced, the Texas Republican said. "It's times like these people like to say they have a burden removed from their shoulders. I can't say that. I didn't have a burden on my shoulders. Jesus had the burden. That got me through it."

He added, "the left and liberals may think they won the war. They didn't accomplish their goal. Bankrupt you. Destroy you. And then jump on your grave."

Calling the ruling "powerful," he said it "criticizes the prosecutors and the judge. They abused the system and the judiciary."

A jury in Austin had determined that DeLay conspired with two associates, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, to use his Texas-based political action committee to send a check for $190,000 in corporate money to an arm of the Washington-based Republican National Committee. The RNC then sent the same amount to seven Texas House candidates. Under state law, corporate money cannot be given directly to political campaigns.

Prosecutors said the money helped the GOP take control of the Texas House, enabling them to push through a DeLay-engineered congressional redistricting plan that sent more Republicans to Congress in 2004, strengthening his political power.

But in a 22-page opinion, the appeals court said prosecutors "failed in its burden to prove that the funds that were delivered to the seven candidates were ever tainted."

Gregg Cox, the Travis County prosecutor whose office convicted DeLay, did not immediately return a phone message Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report