When the Democrats were trying to sell their “culture of corruption” theme, Exhibit A was Tom DeLay, the Republican House Majority Leader from 2003 to 2005. DeLay stepped down under a cloud, as he was indicted by a partisan Democrat in Travis County, Texas, and was under investigation by the Department of Justice in connection with the Abramoff case.
There was never any substantial evidence, however, that DeLay had done anything wrong, and the Texas prosecution, as we wrote repeatedly at the time, was a joke. Now the Justice Department has announced that it is no longer investigating DeLay. The exoneration, however, comes several years too late:
DeLay complained over the slow pace of the DOJ investigation into his dealings with Abramoff, a once close political ally whose downfall in 2004 helped destroy DeLay’s political career. DeLay resigned in June 2006 following two years of negative stories over his ties to Abramoff, including the DOJ criminal probe into his activities. He had already given up his majority leader post following his indictment on unrelated Texas campaign finance charges. That case is still pending.
There is zero chance that the politically-motivated Texas case will ever be brought to trial. Tom DeLay exemplifies a thoroughly modern phenomenon: a public figure whose career–and, one suspects, whose life–has been ruined by the prosecutorial/media/political complex. After six years of headlines, DeLay’s persecutors have nothing to show for their efforts. Except, of course, that they ruined the former Majority Leader of the House of Representatives. No doubt they consider that an accomplishment. But the rest of us should wonder whether we have entrusted too much unfettered power to prosecutors and their natural allies in the media and the political class.