- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 20, 2005

HOUSTON — Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay turned himself in yesterday at the sheriff’s office and was fingerprinted, photographed and released on $10,000 bail on conspiracy and money-laundering charges.

Accompanied by his attorney, Dick DeGuerin, the Texas Republican showed up about midday, appeared before a judge and was gone in less than 30 minutes, said Harris County sheriff’s office spokesman Lt. John Martin.

“Now Ronnie Earle has the mug shot he wanted,” Mr. DeGuerin said, referring to the Travis County district attorney who brought the charges. Mr. DeLay and his attorney have accused Mr. Earle of trying to make headlines for himself.

Mr. DeLay is scheduled to make his first court appearance today in Austin. The charges forced Mr. DeLay to give up his House leadership post.

Later yesterday, the defense asked Judge Bob Perkins to step aside and for the trial to be moved out of Travis County. Judge Perkins has donated to causes and people opposed to Mr. DeLay, and his impartiality might be questioned, the motion said.

The motion listed 34 contributions from Judge Perkins, which included donations to Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate in 2004; MoveOn.org, a left-wing advocacy group; and national, state and local Democratic committees.

Mr. Earle said he would oppose the motion to move the trial and criticized the request that the judge step aside.

“The logic behind the defendant’s motion to recuse Judge Perkins would mean that no criminal defendant could be tried in a court presided over by a judge who did not belong to the defendant’s political party,” the Democratic prosecutor said.

The change-of-venue motion cited press coverage and noted that Austin is “one of the last enclaves of the Democratic Party in Texas.”

Mr. DeLay had been expected to turn himself in in his home county, Fort Bend, outside Houston, where a crowd of reporters awaited. But under Texas law, he could check in anywhere in the state.

Mr. DeGuerin said he and Mr. DeLay went to the sheriff’s office in Houston because it was convenient and because “I wanted to avoid the circus.”

“That’s what Ronnie [Earle] wanted. He wanted a perp walk, and we did not want to do it,” the defense attorney said.

Mr. DeLay and two political associates are charged in a purported scheme to funnel corporate donations to candidates for the Texas Legislature. State law prohibits donations of corporate money for direct campaign purposes.

With Mr. DeLay’s help, the Republicans won control of the Texas House, and the Legislature then passed a congressional redistricting plan that sent more Republicans to Washington.

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