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Texas Court Issues Warrant for DeLay

A state court issued an arrest warrant on Wednesday for Rep. Tom DeLay (search), requiring him to appear in Texas for booking on state conspiracy and money laundering charges.

The court set an initial $10,000 bail as a routine step before the Texas Republican's first court appearance Friday.

DeLay, R-Texas, could be fingerprinted and photographed, although his lawyers had hoped to avoid this step. DeLay probably will surrender in his home county of Fort Bend, near Houston, but he could go to any law enforcement office in Texas. His court appearance will be in Austin.

The warrant, known as a capias, is "a matter of routine and bond will be posted," said DeLay's lawyer, Dick DeGuerin (search).

DeLay has stepped down as U.S. House majority leader — at least temporarily — under a Republican rule requiring him to relinquish the post if charged with a felony.

Two grand juries have charged DeLay and two political associates in an alleged scheme to violate state election law, by funneling corporate donations to candidates for the Texas Legislature. State law prohibits use of corporate donations to finance state campaigns, although the money can be used for administrative expenses.

The indictments charge that a DeLay-founded Texas political committee sent corporate donations to the Republican National Committee (search) in Washington, and the national party sent funds back to the state for 2002 campaigns.

DeLay has denied wrongdoing and accused Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle (search) — a Democrat — of having partisan motives. Earle has denied the accusation.

Earle did not ask for the arrest warrant for DeLay, but approved the court's request, his office said Wednesday.

DeLay's Republican fund-raising in 2002 had major political consequences, allowing the GOP to take control of the Texas Legislature. The Legislature then redrew congressional boundaries according to a DeLay-inspired plan, took command of the state's U.S. House delegation and helped the GOP retain its House majority.