Justice ends investigation of former House GOP leader DeLay

The Justice Department has ended a six-year investigation of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), his attorney Richard Cullen said Monday.

Cullen, chairman of McGuireWoods LLP, said Justice last week dropped its probe of DeLay and has decided against filing charges against the Texan, who led House Republicans until 2005.


The investigation centered on DeLay’s ties to convicted GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The controversy surrounding Abramoff helped end GOP control of the House, which they had held since 1994.

DeLay, who stepped down as Republican leader in 2005 and resigned from the House the next year, still faces criminal charges in Texas for allegedly participating in a 2002 effort to funnel corporate money illegally to state campaigns. A hearing in that case is scheduled to occur Aug. 24 and a trial could begin in the fall.

Abramoff was convicted of defrauding Native American tribes out of tens of millions of dollars and seeking to illegally influence several members of Congress and public officials.

Abramoff reported to prison in November 2006 on a litany of corruption convictions and was recently released to a halfway house in Maryland to serve the remaining months of his sentence. He is also working in a pizza parlor.

In June the Justice Department also terminated its probe of former Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.), an ally of DeLay’s who maintained close ties to Abramoff. Doolittle’s wife, Julie, counted Abramoff as a $5,000-a-month client for her bookkeeping and fundraising event planning business.

Michael Scanlon, an associate of Abramoff’s and a former DeLay communications director, faces sentencing Oct. 14. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe a member of Congress and other public officials and was ordered to repay $19.6 million to his former tribal lobbying clients.

The Campaign for Fair Elections, a nonpartisan watchdog group, decried Justice’s decision to end its probe of DeLay, saying it underscores the extent to which corruption is accepted in Washington.

“The decision by the Department of Justice to drop its criminal investigation into former Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s relationship with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff is further evidence that the scandal is not what is illegal, but rather what is legally permitted each and every day in Washington, D.C.," the group's campaign manager David Donnelly said in a statement.

—This story was posted at 9:55 a.m. and updated at 12:07 p.m.