Tom DeLay stands eyeball-to-eyeball with the prospect of years in prison. But he figures he still has friends in high places. Like the U.S. Supreme Court, maybe.
That would be the majority of justices who authored the 2010 campaign finance ruling known as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which has been decried by Democrats and reformers as a danger to U.S. electoral integrity.
DeLay, whose hard-driving style as a congressional powerbroker earned him the nickname “The Hammer,” was sentenced this week to three years in prison on money laundering and conspiracy charges. A Texas jury said he helped funnel money illegally to Republican candidates in the state in 2002.
But DeLay’s lawyer Dick DeGuerin believes the Supreme Court altered the landscape a year ago when it ruled in a 5-4 decision that corporations can spend unlimited sums of money on political campaigns that advocate or oppose candidates for office.
“The underlying crime was that corporate money was spent on political races in Texas and that’s not true,” DeGuerin explains to NBC.