Monday, January 10, 2011

Tom DeLay is Sentenced to Three Years in Prison

Former United States House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was sentenced today by Judge Pat Priest to three years in prison for his conviction by jury last November on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.  Judge Priest was to have sentenced DeLay to an additional five years in prison on the money laundering charge but allowed DeLay to forgo the additional prison time in exchange for ten years of probation.  DeLay had originally faced the possibility of up to life in prison for his two convictions.

An AP story reports, "After a month-long trial in November, a jury determined that he conspired with two associates to use his Texas-based political action committee to send $190,000 in corporate money to an arm of the Washington-based Republican National Committee. The RNC then sent the same amount to seven Texas House candidates. Under Texas law, corporate money can't go directly to political campaigns."

My thoughts on the subject are that DeLay broke the law knowingly, was convicted by a jury of his peers fairly, and sentenced justly.  I frankly would like to have seen the additional five years of prison been added to DeLay's sentence instead of probation.  When our elected officials abuse their office and knowingly break laws, they especially should be punished severely within the confines of the law as examples that they represent us and are not above the law. 

I don't care what party affiliation they have; unlawful conduct is inexcusable.  It is too bad that other congressional criminals like Charlie Rangel only get a censure under former Speaker Nancy Pelosi's House of Representatives and seemingly no other penalties for his egregious tax evasion, and yet actor Wesley Snipes ends up doing jail time for the same charges.  It is these double standards and ignoring of criminal behavior by our elected representatives that ruins America's faith in congress and brings about such a lowly state of respect upon them accordingly.

It is refreshing to see that in this rare instance, one former powerful congressman was not exempt from the law.  If only it was always so!

H/T: Randy

8 comments:

S.W. Anderson said...

Well said about DeLay, Paine. You're right about those who represent us having a particular responsibility to know and obey the law. When they don't, they should suffer the full penalty of the law.

Re: Rangel, whose actions were at least inexcusably sloppy and at worst deliberately illegal. He's subject to the same justice system DeLay is. If a state or federal prosecutor finds sufficient evidence to bring a case against Rangel to court, that's what should happen.

You reach too far in your overriding desire to take a poke at Nancy Pelosi, though, and that says something uncomplimentary about you, Paine. Pelosi didn't run the Ethics Committee. The House doesn't prosecute tax evaders; that's a DOJ or state prosecutor's job.

After Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., got caught with $100,000 in dirty money in his freezer and was charged with a crime, Pelosi pressured him to resign. When he refused, she saw to it he was stripped of his committee assignments. On top of that, the Democratic Caucus and party both made it clear he could expect no financial support if he ran for re-election.

IOW, Pelosi and the Democratic Caucus did what they could do about Jefferson under House rules and the law. No cover up, no excuse making.

Back to Rangel. When it became clear Rangel was on the wrong side of the law, Pelosi got him to step aside as Ways and Means chairman, at least until the matter was resolved.

From a NYT Sept. story that explained Rangel was in arrears for only a few thousand dollars:

"While it is a federal crime to willfully fail to pay taxes, prosecutors and tax lawyers say the crime is rarely prosecuted when the amounts involved are relatively small.

"Mr. Rangel will file amended tax returns and pay the taxes, (his lawyer) Mr. Davis said."

Rangel got the same treatment in the legal system that most people in such cases get. What's more, he was not given a free pass by Pelosi or House Democrats. Rangel was censured, and if you watched his response afterward, you saw he was humiliated and regretful.

John Myste said...

Today you are a wise and unbaised man. Enjoy this, for your time is limited, sir.

T. Paine said...

Anderson, your facts on Rangel are inaccurate, sir.

First, as the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee (the committee that WRITES our tax laws) his defense of pleading ignorant of the law is highly suspect at best.

Further, as per a Wall Street Journal piece,

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203946904574300013592601036.html

Charlie's actions were far more than a few thousand dollars. $75K is the first figure mentioned, plus the fact that he illegally set up an office in his rent-controlled housing building he owned as he tried to avoid going over the limit and thus had a greater tax liability there.

The fact that Speaker Pelosi came to that office promising to "drain the swamp" of corruption and then stood by crooks such as Rangel until public sentiment was overwhelming speaks very poorly for her.

I doubt criminal charges will be filed against Rangel. Too bad Wesley Snipes wasn't a congressman.

Also, if you noticed, the majority of the House Democrats gave Charlie a standing ovation shortly after having censured this "remorseful" man.

Your double standards are showing, Anderson. Right is right and wrong is wrong. Both Rangel and DeLay belong in prison. Pelosi is a hypocrite and thankfully no longer speaker.

Mr. Myste, please do explain what you mean by my "limited time", sir.

S.W. Anderson said...

Paine, judging by your response, I gather you either didn't read my answer or don't understand it.

I'm not making excuses for Rangel. He did wrong, got caught, is paying back taxes and a fine, got censured. What more do you want, a public hanging?

Please follow the link and read the Times story. It specifically says, as I quoted, Rangel's case only involved a few thousand dollars.

Please explain to me how Pelosi is in the wrong for what tax authorities decided to do with Rangel.

Please explain how the difference in outcomes for Rangel and DeLay, whose cases were of different kinds, one handled by tax authorities the other by a court, are Pelosi and House Democrats' doing; how they are evidence of a double standard.

T. Paine said...

Anderson, I read and understand your answers just fine, sir.

I would submit to you that you are the one missing the point. First, I dispute the facts you presented with my own link to a WSJ piece that specifically said the money involved was at least $75,000.00.

Next, for an average person to have done as Rangel did would likely result in jail time, as per Mr. Snipes.

Pelosi is wrong because she specifically campaigned on having a highly ethical House and "draining the swamp" that the GOP supposedly created. She then stood by Rangel to the bitter end when evidence was pretty damning of his guilt. She is a hypocrite; that is where she is wrong.

Rangel's case should have been handled by the courts just as DeLay's was. Evidently his crime doesn't rise to the same level as DeLays. That is the double standard of which I was speaking.

free0352 said...

Rangel got the same treatment in the legal system that most people in such cases get.

I don't know about that, Wesley Snipes got 6 years for filing his tax retrun late. Seriously. They weren't able to pin ONE DIME of back taxes.

All this said, about Delay, Rangel, Jefferson, or whatever... it makes no sense to me to put any of them in Prison. Prison should be for violent felons.

The IRS is more than capable of garnishing wages and even siezing property and I'm fine with going that route. Jail just adds insult to injury by wasting tax dollars housing someone that could easily be on house arrest and PAYING THE MONEY BACK.

Just say'n.

free0352 said...

Rangel got the same treatment in the legal system that most people in such cases get.

I don't know about that, Wesley Snipes got 6 years for filing his tax retrun late. Seriously. They weren't able to pin ONE DIME of back taxes.

All this said, about Delay, Rangel, Jefferson, or whatever... it makes no sense to me to put any of them in Prison. Prison should be for violent felons.

The IRS is more than capable of garnishing wages and even siezing property and I'm fine with going that route. Jail just adds insult to injury by wasting tax dollars housing someone that could easily be on house arrest and PAYING THE MONEY BACK.

Just say'n.

T. Paine said...

Free, I actually agree with your ideas of how to punish these guys. Prison is not necessary for tax offenders. However, for the sake of fairness, if Snipes and DeLay have to serve prison time for their offenses, then so should slick Charlie Rangel.