Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) on Thursday called his conviction on money laundering charges "political" and hinted at his argument in appealing the verdict.
In his first television interview since a Texas judged sentenced him to three years in prison on Monday, DeLay would not back down from his claim that the attorney general prosecuting the case was politically motivated.
"I was tried in the most liberal county in the state of Texas, indeed in the United States," he said on NBC's "Today Show." "I'm not criticizing the jury, the point is that this is a political campaign."
The once-powerful Texan earned the nickname of "The Hammer" for his brusque style and tough tactics during his tenure as a member of the House leadership. But he now must appeal the ruling in court in order to avoid jail time.
DeLay's defense attorney, Dick DeGuerin, flanked the former leader on the "Today Show" and shined light on possible arguments he will use in an appeal.
The Texas Republican's conviction was based on a 2002 scheme to funnel corporate money to seven Texas Republican state House candidates. Corporate donations to politicians are illegal in Texas.
DeGuerin appeared to cite the Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United case that relaxed federal limits on corporate spending on politics.
"He didn't do anything wrong. The underlying crime was that corporate money was spent on political races in Texas and that’s not true," DeGuerin said. "There was no corporate money.
"The Supreme Court says that corporations have the right to participate in the political process and that'll be part of our appeal also," he added.