HOUSTON -- Former Sugar Land Congressman Tom Delay is working on his appeal and a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision could keep him out of prison all together.
Delay was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison and 10 years probation for laundering corporate campaign money.
He is carefully eyeing a controversial U.S. Supreme court ruling in the case of Citizens United vs. Federal Election Committee. In it, the court decided five to four, to relax rules on corporate campaign donations. It reasoned money is equal to protected free speech.
“Money is speech, when it comes to the political process and I believe the Texas blanket prohibition of corporate money in political races offends the constitution,” Delay’s attorney Dick DeGuerin said.
DeGuerin said he will base his appeal on that, and the argument that nobody laundered any money and the Republican National Committee used its funds properly.
“What I've been fond of saying is two rights don't make a wrong,” the high-profile defense attorney joked.
11 News Legal Expert Gerald Treece said he thinks the appeal arguments will work.
“I think there is more than a reasonable chance that Mr. Delay will have some relief on appeal,” he said.
He pointed out that while the once powerful Republican was convicted in Democratic Travis County, his case now heads to the Texas court of criminal appeals.
“They're heavily Republican,” Treece said
He said that could make a difference.
“Should it make a difference? No, but will it make a difference probably,” he said.
It will likely take another two years before the Criminal Appeals Court decides. In the meantime, Delay is out on two $10,000 bonds.
Under Texas law, convicted felons sentenced to less than ten years are entitled to go free on bond while their cases are appealed.