AUSTIN, Texas – The state's highest criminal court on Monday denied Rep. Tom DeLay's request that the money laundering charges against him be dismissed or sent back to a lower court for an immediate trial.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied the requests with no written order two days after the Sugar Land Republican announced he was stepping down as House majority leader. DeLay was forced to temporarily relinquish the post after he was indicted on money laundering and conspiracy charges in September.
DeLay, who denies wrongdoing, had been trying to rush to trial in Texas in hopes of clearing his name and regaining the position. His attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said they will continue to push for a quick trial because DeLay faces opposition in the March Republican primary.
"We'd like to get it over with before then, but it's not as crucial as it would have been if he were still in the running for his leadership post," DeGuerin said.
But DeLay's decision to abandon the powerful position in no way lessens his desire to clear his name, DeGuerin said.
"Tom DeLay's not going to plead guilty to anything, even spitting on the sidewalk," he said.
DeLay spokesman Kevin Madden once again derided Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, saying he has "gamed the justice system" in an effort to delay the congressman's exoneration.
A spokesman for Earle had no immediate comment.
The trial court judge in December dismissed a conspiracy charge against DeLay but refused to throw out more serious allegations of money laundering. Prosecutors appealed that decision, and the judge decided not to proceed with the case until the appeal is resolved.
The 3rd Court of Appeals is still considering the case.
Prosecutors allege DeLay and two GOP fundraisers, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, funneled $190,000 in corporate contributions through the Texas political committee and an arm of the National Republican Committee to seven Republican state legislative candidates.
They accuse the three men of trying to circumvent Texas' law prohibiting spending corporate money on campaigns, except for administrative expenses.
Ellis and Colyandro want later trials so their attorneys will have more time to persuade an appeals courts to dismiss the charges.