HOUSTON Former House Republican leader Tom DeLay remained defiant Thursday as he conducted his first interviews following his sentencing earlier in the week.
A judge in Austin sentencedthe former Sugar Land CongressmanMonday to three years in prison for conspiracy and 10 years probation for money laundering.
A jury convicted DeLay in November of funneling $190,000 in corporate donations to help elect state lawmakers in 2002. DeLay is free on bond pending an appeal.
I'm fighting the criminalization of politics, he told 11 News in his first local television interview since the sentencing. This undermines the very system of representation that we have in this country and it's very dangerous.
DeLay s attorney, Dick DeGuerin, plans to use a controversial U.S. Supreme court ruling as the basis for their appeal. In the case of Citizens United vs. Federal Election Committee, the court decided to relax rules on corporate campaign donations. In a 5-4 ruling, justices reasoned money is equal to protected free speech.
I think it's really unfortunate that people will hate you for what you believe, DeLay said. I've done nothing wrong. We will prove that. Why should I go to jail if I've done nothing wrong?
DeLay insists that Travis County s liberal-leaning jury pool was largely responsible for his conviction.
We did a poll, DeLay said. My name ID in Travis County was 90 percent. The same as Obama's. And 60 percent of those people hate me -- not just dislike --my politics. Hate me.
DeLaywas once one of the most powerful politicians in the country. He was known for enforcing party discipline, a reputation that earned him the nickname The Hammer.
I can't be remorseful when [I m] innocent, he said. I guess some people think I should grovel because I was found guilty by a jury. But I'm innocent. It would be contrary to my entire nature to be remorseful if I'm innocent.
When pressed on whether he felt any remorse at all -- or even regret -- DeLay responded: I'm remorseful for the abuse of the system. And for the abuse of power...for rogue district attorneys.
Prosecutors blasted DeLay for admitting he was arrogant during his sentencing hearing Monday.
DeLay repeated that personal assessment during his interview with 11 News. My wife calls it 'Texas cocky, he chuckled. But no, that's one of my weaknesses that I work hard to overcome.
As he often does, DeLay brought up religion several times during the interview, saying his belief in Jesus Christ was helping him get through his legal troubles. He added that he felt at peace when the judge handed him his three-year prison sentence.
The scripture right now that I'm thinking about -- it sort of relates to what's going on in Washington is: Love thy neighbor as thyself, DeLay said. And then another one is: 'Pray for your enemies.'