Tom DeLay's own evidence turned against him Wednesday as a calendar showed the former U.S. House Majority leader in a meeting with a key political aide two hours after the man received the check used in an alleged $190,000 political money laundering scheme.
DeLay, R-Sugar Land, contends he did not learn of a corporate money swap between his Texans for a Republican Majority and the Republican National Committee until political aide Jim Ellis told him of it on Oct. 2, 2002.
In a statement to Travis County prosecutors in 2002, however, DeLay said Ellis told him about the money swap before it happened. DeLay now insists he misspoke.
Did you misspeak then, or are you misspeaking now?
Defense lawyer Dick DeGuerin introduced DeLay's calendars on the idea that they would show no meetings between DeLay and Ellis during the crucial days of September when the money exchange was arranged, to bolster DeLay's Oct. 2 claim.
Confirming the calendars with former scheduler Mary Ellen Bos, DeGuerin argued that DeLay and Ellis met only three times in September and October 2002.
Once was Sept. 5, before the alleged scheme began. The second time was on Oct. 2, which is when DeLay now contends he learned of the money swap. And the third meeting was on Oct. 8, after the money was exchanged.
But Travis County prosecutor Beverly Mathews got Bos to confirm under cross examination that Ellis also was in a group of people who had a 1-2:30 p.m. grass-roots planning meeting with DeLay Sept. 11, 2002, in his congressional leadership office. Mathews noted that the meeting occurred shortly after Ellis received a blank TRMPAC check that was used in the money exchange.
"I just missed that one," DeGuerin said sheepishly afterward, noting he only had obtained the calendar on Sunday. "The (Sept. 11) meeting was with a bunch of other people."
A pretty serious mistake for a high-powered defense attorney like DeGuerin. If he loses this case, he's probably going to have to adjust his world's-highest-retainer downward.
Even if the jury convicts, DeLay probably wins in a Republican-dominated appeals court, or even the SCOTUS if it gets to that. Because in the wake of Citizens United, there is a case to be made that DeLay's crimes are no longer crimes.
I'm still thinking The Bugman skates over this increasingly thin ice. But it may be later rather than sooner.