Justice DeLayed, Again (And Again)

Tom DeLay | US Government photo.

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

The Justice Department has chosen not to prosecute Jack Abramoff associate and former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay, the ex-congressman’s attorney said Friday.

Here’s a quick refresher on the gerrymandering, permanent majority-building, bug-zapping, Clinton-impeaching, samba-dancing, power-buying, Texas Republican’s misdeeds. In brief: DeLay was indicted on conspiracy and money laundering charges in 2005 for allegedly conspiring to launder corporate money during the 2002 elections in an effort to guarantee a GOP majority in the Texas State House. (That case is still pending.)* His ties with Abramoff were the focus of a six-year-long investigation by federal authorities that is now apparently closed.

Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), responds to the news: 

It’s a sad day for America when one of the most corrupt members to ever walk the halls of Congress gets a free pass. As we continue the work of building a Washington that is worthy of the American people, the Justice Department’s decision not to prosecute Mr. DeLay for his actions sends exactly the wrong message to current and future members. The fact that Jack Abramoff and Bob Ney (R-OH) are the only two people who went to prison for one of the worst corruption scandals in congressional history is shocking. The Hammer belongs in the slammer. Mr. DeLay still has crimes to answer for in Texas—generally not considered the best place to be a criminal defendant.

Why does this matter? Because thanks to upcoming gubernatorial elections and the 2010 census, redistricting is back on the political menu for next year (though his indictment for the Texas campaign finance charges is a separate, still pending case). Sloan’s “wrong message”—that opportunistic power grabbers around the country need take no heed and fear no retribution for artless political engineering—is that politics continues. As usual.

* This post has been edited since it was first published.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend