By Brian Doherty
...but out on bond pending appeal, could be a long time before he starts serving his time. Details from The New York Times:
The sentence comes after a jury in November convicted DeLay on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The Republican who represented the Houston area was once one of the most powerful people in U.S. politics, ascending to the No. 2 job in the House of Representatives. During a several-minute statement to the judge prior to sentencing, DeLay repeated his longstanding claims that the prosecution was politically motivated and that he never intended to break the law....
DeLay's lawyers have also submitted more than 30 character and support letters from friends and political leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and eight current U.S. congressmen. Most of the letters ask for leniency in the sentencing.
After a month-long trial in November, a jury determined that he conspired with two associates to use his Texas-based political action committee to send $190,000 in corporate money to an arm of the Washington-based Republican National Committee. The RNC then sent the same amount to seven Texas House candidates. Under Texas law, corporate money can't go directly to political campaigns.
Prosecutors claim the money helped Republicans take control of the Texas House. That enabled the Republican majority to push through a Delay-engineered congressional redistricting plan that sent more Texas Republicans to Congress in 2004, strengthening DeLay's political power.
Undoubtedly DeLay as a former leading congressman is a criminal. Whether this particular interpretation of a law blocking free support and expression in politics is a proper bludgeon, I'd say no.