The Justice Department will not seek charges against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas). The announcement Monday by his lawyer capped a six-year probe into DeLay’s ties to ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Delay’s lead counsel, Richard Cullen, chairman of McGuireWoods LLP, told Politico that Justice Department lawyer in the Public Integrity Section phoned him early last week to tell him the probe had been dropped.
In a 1 p.m. conference call with reporters, DeLay said his lawyers began inquiring about the state of the investigation after the department notified ex-Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.) in June that a probe of his relationship with Abramoff had come to a close.
DeLay said he “knew this day would come” but lamented that it took six years to reach a conclusion in the federal probe.
In Texas state court, DeLay faces charges of money laundering and conspiracy in connection with 2002 state legislative elections. The case is pending, with a trial expected next spring.
“I know that this is the price of leadership, but frankly it doesn’t have to happen this way,” DeLay said.
The long-running influence-peddling investigation has focused on a raft expensive trips, meals and sought-after tickets to concerts and sporting that flowed from Abramoff and his colleagues to power brokers in Washington, including DeLay.
DeLay defended his relationship with the former lobbyist, who was convicted of fraud, corruption and conspiracy and served about 3 1/2 years in prison.
“[Jack] Abramoff is a friend of mine, just as other lobbyists are friends of mine,” DeLay said. “We worked together professionally. He never asked me to do anything untoward. Nor did I do anything untoward or unethical.”
Two of DeLay’s top aides pleaded guilty Abramoff probe, the fallout of which helped fuel the Democrats’ return to power. DeLay said he had not spoken with them since they came under investigation.
DeLay said that he voluntarily produced to the department more than 1,000 e-mails and documents dating back to 1997, and that he ordered all his staff to cooperate fully with federal investigators.
“The case was so weak, however, I was never interviewed by investigators or asked to appear before a grand jury,” DeLay said.
After exiting office, DeLay started a consulting firm, First Principles LLC. He competed on ABC’s hit show “Dancing With the Stars” but withdrew in October after being diagnosed with stress fractures in both feet.
The Associated Press has more here.