Tom DeLay Conviction: Statement of Trevor Potter, Campaign Legal Center President
Today’s verdict was an important victory for our democracy. It proves that even highly placed government officials are accountable for their violations of law. Our campaign finance laws are important to our system of self-government, and laundering money in an attempt to evade those laws undermines our democratic process. In moving money around in order to use illegal corporate funds to elect candidates in Texas, Tom DeLay displayed a startling contempt for our laws and our democratic process. Initially, he even bragged about what he had done. He should be punished accordingly.
Today’s verdict however should be understood in the larger context. Prosecutors in Travis County are to be commended for pressing on with their case over several years, even as the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) abruptly and inexplicably dropped its own investigation of DeLay (and a number of other Members of Congress implicated in a variety of public corruption scandals), despite a lengthy list of alleged federal violations. Indeed, the decision by DOJ’s Public Integrity Section to drop its investigations of a number of Members of Congress appears to have been driven by the Department’s own scandal concerning prosecutorial misconduct in the case against former Sen. Ted Stevens. If this is in fact the case, our democracy has been done a grave disservice.
The American public feels our elected officials act above the law and are not held being held accountable. Today’s verdict means justice is alive and well in Austin, Texas. Now we just need to restore it here in Washington.