Prosecutors: DeLay illegally directed funds to GOP

By Juan A. Lozano

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Nov. 1 2010 12:36 p.m. MDT

DeLay and DeGuerin have said the charges are politically motivated by former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who brought the original case but has since retired. Earle is a Democrat. Prosecutors deny the charges are politically motivated.

DeLay's defense team also worried about the trial being held in liberal Austin and its timing, with testimony beginning a day before the contentious midterm elections. Jurors were selected last week, and the trial is expected to last three weeks.

DeLay was once one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress, earning the nickname "the Hammer" for his heavy-handed style.

The criminal charges in Texas, as well as a separate federal investigation of his ties to disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, forced DeLay to step down as majority leader and eventually to resign after representing suburban Houston for 22 years. The Justice Department has since ended its federal investigation into DeLay's ties to Abramoff without filing any charges against DeLay.

Ellis and Colyandro, who face lesser charges, will be tried later. A previous charge alleging they and DeLay had engaged in a conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws was dismissed.

DeLay has been mostly out of public view since resigning from Congress, except for an appearance on ABC's hit television show "Dancing With the Stars." He now runs a consulting firm based in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land.

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