Tom DeLay Was Praying When Acquittal Came Through

Former majority leader: “I just thank the Lord for carrying me through all this.”

National Journal
Billy House
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Billy House
Sept. 19, 2013, 9:16 a.m.

Former House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Tom DeLay, R-Texas, says he happened to be on his knees pray­ing at a Cap­it­ol Hill get-to­geth­er when he got the news Thursday that a Texas court over­turned his con­vic­tion in a money-laun­der­ing case stem­ming from the 2002 elec­tions.

“We were all ba­sic­ally on our knees pray­ing,” said DeLay, once known in the na­tion’s cap­it­al as The Ham­mer. “And my law­yer calls and says, ‘You’re a free man!’ “

After some more pray­ing, DeLay said he and sev­er­al oth­ers walked over to the Cap­it­ol, where he had an­oth­er ap­point­ment in the Ro­tunda chapel. It was there that re­port­ers found him.

“So, it’s a really happy day for me. And I just thank the Lord for car­ry­ing me through all this,” said DeLay, stand­ing in a hall­way, just a few yards from the suite of of­fices he once in­hab­ited.

DeLay, 66, said he had no in­ten­tions of re­turn­ing to elect­ive of­fice be­cause “there’s too [many] oth­er things the Lord wants me to do.” But he also noted he’s been around the “polit­ic­al arena” in oth­er ways, “nev­er left it,” and in­tends to re­main act­ive.

DeLay was con­victed by a jury in Novem­ber 2010 on state charges of il­leg­ally fun­nel­ing cor­por­ate money through the Re­pub­lic­an Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee to help elect GOP can­did­ates to the Texas Le­gis­lature in 2002. That de­cision was over­turned on ap­peal Thursday.

The court’s de­cision means he can­not be re­tried.

DeLay had been sen­tenced to three years in pris­on on a con­spir­acy charge and five years for money laun­der­ing. He had re­mained free while ap­peal­ing his case. Through six grand jur­ies and his tri­al, DeLay had main­tained his in­no­cence, say­ing the pro­sec­u­tion was polit­ic­ally mo­tiv­ated.

Thursday, DeLay ex­plained that he happened to be in Wash­ing­ton this week be­cause, “out of the blue, these guys called me and said there were some things we want to talk about.” He did not get spe­cif­ic, but said it in­volved get­ting to­geth­er “and start­ing something,” and that when he heard the news he was at that time at­tend­ing dis­cus­sions about a “na­tion­wide pray­er op­er­a­tion.”

In fact, it was his re­li­gious faith, DeLay said, that got him through his leg­al troubles. He said that “drove my de­tract­ors crazy be­cause, you know, I had the joy of Je­sus through me, and they don’t un­der­stand that.”

But in ad­di­tion to re­ly­ing on his faith, DeLay also had to spend mil­lions on the case. “I have raised and spend in leg­al fees over that peri­od of time over $12 mil­lion,” he said.

DeLay re­called that his leg­al prob­lems, for him, ac­tu­ally began in 1995 with the House Eth­ics Com­mit­tee, and then the-Demo­crat­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, he said, “an­nounced they were go­ing to get me.”

“Be­cause that’s what they want to do, they des­troy,” he said.

Asked wheth­er he might be able to help cur­rent House Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers in get­ting their con­fer­ence be­hind pas­sage of a short-term gov­ern­ment fund­ing meas­ure, DeLay re­spon­ded, “They haven’t asked me to.”

“But I could do it,” he said.

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