Think back to the long gone days of 2006. In the pleasing sepia-tones of your memories, you can see a booming job market, Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley, and a time when Barack Obama was a random black dude who made a good speech that one time.
This is the world of Tom “The Hammer” DeLay. A world where a “tea party” was a game for little girls. A world where corporations were not allowed to openly buy Congressional elections.
That was a long time ago: before allegations of campaign finance shenanigans brought DeLay down and turned him into an extra on Dancing with the Stars.
The days of DeLay’s political relevance might be over, but the slow pace of the justice system is now putting DeLay back in the spotlight. His long awaited trial starts today…
For those who have forgotten the mess DeLay got himself into, Politico has a quick recap:
DeLay was charged in 2005 for illegally directing $190,000 in corporate funds through the Republican National Committee to help elect Texas legislative candidates in 2002. Texas law prohibits corporate campaign contributions in state races.
DeLay pleaded not guilty to money laundering and conspiracy. He tried unsuccessfully to move the trial from Austin to his home congressional district in conservative Fort Bend County.
Ah, Austin, Texas. I’ve heard Austin referred to as the “oasis” of Texas. I’ve heard Austin called the “brain” of Texas. Clearly, it’s a deep blue pool in the heart of a rabidly red state.
And let’s not forget how much liberals hated Tom DeLay. And DeLay knows it, as the WSJ Law Blog reports:
“I am more hated in Travis County than any other politician,” DeLay told reporters during a pretrial hearing in August, mentioning the county where Austin is seated.
No doubt. But will such deeply held political beliefs influence the quality of justice DeLay receives? If the trial goes badly for DeLay, he’ll certainly claim that the jury was influenced by political concerns. But the judge isn’t overly concerned. Politico reports:
Pat Priest, a retired state judge from San Antonio, will preside over the case.
“I know there’s negative feeling about Tom DeLay – and it’s strong,” Priest said in August, according to the Austin Statesman. He added that with proper precautions, “we can give Mr. DeLay a fair trial in Travis County.”
I hope Judge Priest is right. But it certainly feels like the hammer is about to get nailed.
Tom DeLay trial starts today [Politico]
Trial of Tom ‘The Hammer’ DeLay to Kick Off in Liberal Texas Capital [WSJ Law Blog]