WASHINGTON – Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay will announce that he will not seek re-election to Congress and will not finish his current term, sources told FOX News late Monday.
The Texas Republican will likely make a farewell speech on Tuesday via video on his Web site with a transcript included. DeLay will resign his seat effective in the late spring or summer after the House Appropriations Committee, of which DeLay is a member, is done with its business, a high level Republican source said.
DeLay notified colleagues in Congress of his decision ahead of the announcement.
"Simply put, Tom is one of the most effective and gifted leaders the Republican Party has ever known. He was a tireless advocate for his constituents, the state of Texas and all Americans who shared a commitment to the principles of smaller government, more freedom and family values," said Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, who succeeded DeLay as majority leader.
"The country owes Tom a great debt of gratitude for helping lead America in a new direction — a direction outlined in the Contract with America that saw balanced budgets, historic welfare reforms, lower taxes, regulatory relief and a renewed respect for the sanctity of life," Boehner said.
The announcement comes just days after former DeLay deputy chief of staff Tony Rudy pleaded guilty to conspiracy and promised to cooperate with a federal investigation of bribery and lobbying fraud involving convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Rudy's plea agreement contains no allegations that DeLay did anything wrong. Abramoff is also cooperating in a federal probe, and was sentenced last week to five years and 10 months on separate charges relating to the fraudulent purchase of a Florida casino boat.
Chris Bell, the former Democratic congressman who first filed the complaint against DeLay, said DeLay's resignation is a small step toward vindication.
"Tom DeLay’s resignation is a great victory in the fight to clean up corruption in politics, but the war is far from over. The culture of corruption is about a heck of a lot more than Tom DeLay. We need to move toward real progress by turning the conversation from how bad one man is to how good we can all be," Bell said in a statement.
"Unfortunately for Texas, Tom DeLay’s protégé, Gov. Rick Perry, has institutionalized Washington-style politics in Austin. The problem with the culture both in Washington and Texas is an excessive tolerance for corruption in which what they do that’s illegal isn’t as bad as what they do that’s legal," Bell added.
Senior Republican sources tell FOX News that when DeLay steps down he will immediately establish residency in Virginia, thereby vacating the House seat he currently occupies.
DeLay won the Texas Republican primary election last month with more than 60 percent of the vote and was set to face Nick Lampson, a former Democratic representative who blamed the Texas redistricting plan orchestrated by DeLay for his defeat in 2004. In the primary, DeLay defeated three candidates in the GOP primary by at least a two-to-one margin, including lawyer Tom Campbell, who had ties to the first President Bush's administration, and won 30 percent of the vote.
With the seat vacant and the filing deadline passed, the Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Texas will have to choose its preference for a candidate to take on Lampson. However, Republican Gov. Perry will likely have to call a special election to fill the vacancy before the November vote.
In interviews Monday with The Galveston County Daily News and Time magazine, DeLay said his decision was best for his district, and internal polling numbers contributed to his decision to step down.
"Even though I thought I could win, it was a little too risky," DeLay said.
DeLay was indicted last year by a Travis County grand jury on charges of conspiracy and money laundering. A judge dismissed some counts. But the Sugar Land representative still faced a charge of money laundering, which is a first-degree felony. Republican House ethics rules mandated that DeLay resign his leadership post because a conviction on the charges carries at least a two-year sentence.
Until last September, DeLay served as the No. 2 man for the GOP, and was known as the "Hammer" for his ability to convince fellow Republicans to fall into party line.
The charges stem from accusations that DeLay funneled illegal corporate donations to Republican candidates for the Texas House during 2002 campaigns. The newly won state Republican majority then pushed through the redistricting plan that caused Lampson and four other Democrats to lose their U.S. House seats and hand the congressional delegation's majority to Republicans.
FOX News' Major Garrett, Brian Wilson and Jim Mills and The Associated Press contributed to this report.