In the six days Tom DeLay has been on trial, prosecutors have called 22 witnesses and presented volumes of e-mails and other documents as they try to convince a jury that the former U.S. House majority leader illegally funneled corporate donations to Texas GOP candidates in 2002.
So far, no witness or document has directly tied DeLay to the alleged scheme, and some courtroom observers are questioning how strong the prosecution's case is.
"I guess we have to give (prosecutors) the benefit of the doubt. They haven't finished their case yet. But what I've seen so far is troubling," said Bradley Simon, a New York white collar criminal defense lawyer who has been following the trial.
DeLay is charged with money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Prosecutors allege he and two associates — John Colyandro and Jim Ellis — illegally channeled $190,000 in corporate donations collected by DeLay's Texas PAC through the Washington-based Republican National Committee. Under Texas law, corporate money can't go directly to political campaigns. Testimony was to resume Wednesday.
Former PAC fundraisers, lobbyists and Texas candidates who allegedly received illegal corporate donations have detailed for jurors how DeLay's PAC worked, the donations it received and problems it was having in raising money from individual donors — the only type of funds that could go to political campaigns under Texas law. Prosecutors have implied DeLay was the driving force behind the PAC and the alleged scheme to "clean" the corporate donations through a money swap they say couldn't have been done without his knowledge.
The former Houston-area congressman denies wrongdoing. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.