Former Republican U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay saw his money laundering conviction overturned on Thursday by a Texas appeals court according to the Associated Press.
DeLay, who is infamous in Indian country for his ties to disgraced former Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, was found guilty in 2010 for helping to illegally funnel corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002. The conviction of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering was overturned in the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals with a 2-1 ruling that rendered judgments of acquittal.
The former House Representative’s connection stems from his former aide, Michael Scanlon, who was Abramoff’s partner in a series of scams that involved defrauding Indian nations of more than $80 million in the early 2000’s, and then working against the nations on behalf of their competitors as reported by Indian Country Today Media Network in February 2011.
The 2010 conviction in State courts follows the end of a six-year investigation by the federal government as part of the Abramoff investigations. DeLay denies any knowledge of the scams or any authorization of them.
DeLay opted out of re-election to his Texas seat in 2006 as the Abramoff scandal gained steam. The once House No. 2 vowed not to let the scandal that rampant in his office sway him from returning to a federal seat sans his Majority Whip position. But in the end it never happened.
RELATED: DeLay abandons re-election hopes
Following the 2010 conviction DeLay was sentenced to three years in prison, but the sentence was on hold until his case made it through the appellate process the AP reports. The conviction determined that DeLay had conspired with two associates, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, through his Texas-based political committee to send $190,000 in corporate money to the Republican National Committee which later sent that same amount to seven Texas House candidates. State law forbids corporate money to be given directly to political campaigns according to AP.
The appeals court however delivered a 22-page opinion stating, that prosecutors “failed in its burden to prove that the funds that were delivered to the seven candidates were even tainted.”
Since the conviction, DeLay has maintained a low profile, until last December when he was spotted having lunch with Abramoff in Washington according to The Washington Post.
Delay’s attorney, Brian Wice told the AP that DeLay is “ecstatic. He’s gratified. He’s just a little bit numb. I’m hoping with today’s victory, he will be able to resume his life as he once knew it.”