Published February 17, 2006
AUSTIN, Texas – An appeals court will hear arguments from attorneys March 22 over whether a conspiracy charge against U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay should stand.
The 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin notified lawyers in the case Thursday that oral arguments had been set before a three-judge panel.
Prosecutors appealed to the court after Judge Pat Priest in December threw out a charge against the former House majority leader and two associates that alleged conspiracy based on a supposed plan to violate at the Texas election code.
Two other charges against the defendants, including money laundering and conspiracy to launder money, were left in place.
The charges against DeLay, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis involve donations to DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority political action committee. The defendants are accused of funneling $190,000 in corporate contributions through the Texas committee and an arm of the National Republican Committee to seven GOP legislative candidates in 2002.
Texas law bans spending corporate money on state elections, except for administrative purposes.
The first charge — the one that Priest dismissed — came in an indictment Sept. 28. Defense attorney Dick DeGuerin argued that the charge was bogus because the conspiracy law didn't apply to the election code at the time of the alleged offense, in 2002. It didn't cover the election code until the following year, he said.
Prosecutors rejected that notion and argued their position before Priest and in briefs filed before the 3rd Court. Their latest filing on Wednesday stated again that the conspiracy law at the time would have applied to the election code.