Tom DeLay will be going to jail. He was sentenced to three years for a series of money laundering actions in 2002, when he was House Majority Leader. He will also have ten years of probation.
At his sentencing hearing DeLay made it perfectly clear that he doesn’t understand what he did wrong. He all but told the judge that if he got another chance, he would do the same thing again.
But money laundering is not just moving money from one place to another, as DeLay seems to think it is. Its purpose is to make money that’s from an improper source appear to be from a different source so that it will appear to be proper. It is what criminals do when they are trying to obscure their sources of income.
At his sentencing hearing, DeLay essentially argued that because the money was part of a political campaign, the usual legal standards shouldn’t apply. But I believe that when possible, politicians must be held to a higher standard, not exempted from all standards of conduct. Politics is a tortuous process anyway, but all the more so when some of the people running it are criminals. And that was the state of politics in the United States in 2002.