Most legal experts looking at the conspiracy indictment of U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay said Wednesday that either an insider has turned against DeLay or the prosecutor may have gone too far.
"I can't imagine indicting a majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives without having a smoking gun, and that means someone who flipped on DeLay," said Buck Wood, an Austin lawyer who filed a related civil lawsuit on behalf of Democratic congressional candidates. "He's got to have corroborating evidence, too, bills and things proving where DeLay was at key times."
Several lawyers and law professors said Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle could have talked the grand jury into a questionable indictment if he hasn't secured key witnesses who were "in the room" with DeLay. Otherwise, this conspiracy case could be too hard to prove with just circumstantial evidence, they said.
Dick DeGuerin, an attorney for DeLay who beat Earle in the Hutchison case, said Wednesday that the prosecutor doesn't have just one cooperating witness — he has many. "I think everybody has cooperated with the government, and the evidence showed Tom DeLay did nothing wrong," he said.
He said none of the three accused men committed a crime since the funds were never improperly used.
The indictment does not follow the corporate-sponsored $190,000 into any specific account from which it was then used to improperly pay candidates. DeGuerin says it wasn't alleged in the indictment because it didn't happen. Any money sent to the candidates came properly from a separate individual donor account.