Former House majority leader Tom Delay (R-Tex) was convicted of money laundering and conspiracy to engage in money laundering late last week by a Texas court. Texas law defines ‘money laundering’ as knowingly using “the proceeds of criminal activity.” Delay was also charged with a conspiracy to violate election law, but the court did not convict him on that charge.
It is clear that Delay’s actions were an attempt to bypass the Texas election laws, which prohibit corporate contributions to political campaigns. However, the second charge of conspiracy to engage in money laundering is much harder to analyze. At the time of Delay’s conduct, Texas conspiracy law did not cover election laws. The court nonetheless convicted Delay of the conspiracy charge.
Delay characterized the conviction as “the criminalization of politics.”