The Citizens United Supreme Court ruling may have not only opened a spigot of corporate money in our elections, it may also be used to bailout former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay from prison.
According to Reuters, DeLay is using the controversial Supreme Court ruling as a part of his appeal to overturn his three-year prison sentence for laundering corporate money through a series of accounts, including the Republican National Committee, to fund races for the Texas state legislature. It is illegal to raise money directly from corporations in Texas, even after Citizens United.
In a legal Texas two-step DeLay’s lawyer Dick DeGuerrin both denies that DeLay committed a crime and claims the Court ruling would absolve him anyway, “The underlying crime was that corporate money was spent on political races in Texas and that’s not true … However, the Supreme Court says that corporations have a right to participate in the political process and that’ll be part of our appeal.”
Texas’ law banning corporate contributions, however, has not changed post-Citizens United. It is still intact because the Supreme Court did not invalidate the Tillman Act, a law passed in 1907 banning corporate contributions to candidates for election, on which the Texas law is based.
DeLay may be banking on the chance that the Supreme Court would want to further their push to loosen campaign finance laws and overturn the 100 year ban on direct corporate contributions. Based on the text of the Citizens United ruling, which upheld regulation of direct contributions to candidates because they were a vaild anti-corruption interest, this seems unlikely.