We applaud today’s sentencing by a Texas judge of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. However, his sentence of three years in prison is a far cry from justice when compared to the damage he has done to Texas households, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come. We are disappointed that someone who faced a possible penalty of 99 years in prison on a money-laundering charge and 20 years on a conspiracy charge has received such a light sentence.
DeLay’s brand of politics was one of reckless disregard for the American people. By funneling illegal corporate money into Texas state elections, he helped elect Republican candidates to the Texas Legislature, which led to the tainted redistricting of his state. He was convicted in November on charges that emanated from a complaint originally filed by former director of Public Citizen’s Texas office Chris McDonald, who is now director of Texans for Public Justice. McDonald testified at DeLay’s trial.
Jan. 21 is the first anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a ruling that allowed national elections to be undermined with untold amounts of undisclosed corporate money. Until we pass the Disclose Act to reveal the identity of corporate political donors, establish a system of public financing like Fair Elections Now and pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, our democracy remains at risk from the Tom DeLays of the nation.
Tom “Smitty” Smith is the director of Public Citizen’s Texas office.