On CBS Evening News, Gloria Borger falsely claimed that "half the charges" against Rep. Tom DeLay "were thrown out" by a Texas judge. In fact, the judge dismissed only one of the three offenses with which DeLay has been charged.
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On the December 5 broadcast of CBS Evening News, CBS News contributor and U.S. News & World Report contributing editor Gloria Borger falsely asserted that "half the charges" against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) "were thrown out" by a Texas judge. Borger cited this claim as a "very good reason" for DeLay's supporters to allege that the ruling was a victory for the Texas politician. In fact, the judge did not throw out "half the charges": Of the three offenses with which DeLay had been charged, only one was dismissed. On October 3, DeLay was indicted by a Texas grand jury on two felony counts: The first charged him with conspiracy to violate state election law (a restatement of DeLay's September 28 indictment) and to commit money laundering; the second charged him with money laundering. Senior District Judge Pat Priest threw out (Word DOC) the charge that DeLay conspired to violate the state election code but upheld the charge that he conspired to launder money. The judge also preserved the other charge, laid out in the second indictment, of money laundering. From the judge's ruling (Word DOC):
All three defendants are accused in 904159, 904160 and 904161, returned on October 3, 2005, with Conspiracy under Penal Code Sect. 15.02 both to violate Subchapter D of Chapter 253 of the Election Code and to engage in money laundering of funds exceeding $100,000 (Count I) and with a substantive violation of the Money Laundering statute, Penal Code Sect. 34.02 (Count II). For reasons to be set forth hereafter, the motions to quash so much of Count I as relates to conspiracy to violate the Election Code are GRANTED, and the balance DENIED.
A December 6 New York Times article by Ralph Blumenthal and Carl Hulse, "Texas Judge Lets Stand 2 of 3 Charges Against DeLay," reported that Priest "dismiss[ed] charges of conspiracy to violate the election code by making an illegal corporate contribution. Judge Priest left standing charges of money laundering and conspiracy to launder money" against DeLay and his two alleged co-conspirators, [Republican fund-raisers] John D. Colyandro and James W. Ellis.
From the December 5 broadcast of CBS Evening News with anchor Bob Schieffer:
SCHIEFFER: And there's been a new development tonight in the Tom DeLay case. A Texas judge threw out charges that DeLay conspired with others to violate election laws, but the judge upheld a charge that DeLay and two fund-raisers illegally funneled $190,000 from corporations to Texas Republicans. We want to bring in our political correspondent Gloria Borger now in Washington. Gloria, he still faces some problems, does he not?
BORGER: Yes, Tom DeLay does have some problems. Legally, Bob, his office was claiming that this was a victory, and with some very good reason. Half the charges were thrown out; money laundering is much more difficult to prove. But politically, he does have some tremendous problems. He wanted to come back to Congress in January, retake his job as majority leader -- you are not allowed to serve in the leadership if you're under indictment -- and instead, he's going to be going to trial.
SCHIEFFER: Well, I think that's the bottom line, isn't it? He is going to go to trial. This case is not going to be thrown out.
BORGER: This case is not going to be thrown out, and the Republicans and the rank-and-file in the House that I speak with are getting a little restless about this. There are some of them who say that perhaps Tom DeLay should never return as majority leader. They're worried that these ethics charges could tarnish all of them, and they're looking to their re-election in the 2006 midterms.
SCHIEFFER: So Congress will restart in January, and without Tom DeLay. OK. Thank you very much, Gloria.