- The Washington Times - Monday, August 16, 2010

The Justice Department has ended its investigation into former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and will file no charges, a DeLay attorney said Monday.

The six-year investigation focused on the connection between the Texas Republican and ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. DeLay attorney Richard Cullen said he was told last week by the Justice Department that the probe was being concluded.

Mr. DeLay, a conservative, was during the late 1990s and early 2000s perhaps the most powerful Republican in Washington - connecting GOP congressional majorities and K Street interest groups, earning the nicknamed “The Hammer” along the way.

He stepped down as majority leader in September 2005 as the Abramoff scandal swelled.

Mr. Abramoff pleaded guilty in January 2006 to charges of conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud as part of deal in which he would provide evidence about members of Congress.

Three months later, Mr. DeLay announced he would resign from Congress and not seek re-election.

Despite his influence and power, Mr. DeLay maintained he did nothing unethical related to the Abramoff scandal.

“I know this is the price of leadership, but frankly it doesn’t have to happen this way,” he said Monday in a conference call with reporters. “The new politics, it’s no longer good enough to beat you on policy. They have to completely drown you and put you in prison and destroy your family and reputation and finances and dance on your grave.”

Mr. Abramoff served roughly 42 months in a minimum-security prison camp before being released in June. He now lives in a halfway house and works at a kosher pizzeria in the Baltimore area.

At least 11 people were convicted in the wide-ranging Abramoff scandal, which included allegations of conspiracy to bribe public officials and bilking millions from Indian tribes for lobbying services.

Among those convicted in the scandal was former Rep. Bob Ney, Ohio Republican. Two former DeLay aides — Tony Rudy and Michael Scanlon — have pleaded guilty to conspiracy and await sentencing.

The Justice Department’s Office of Public Integrity has declined to comment on the DeLay case.

Mr. DeLay still faces criminal charges in Texas regarding political contributions in the 2002 elections. An Aug. 24 hearing is scheduled in the case, and a trial could begin this fall.

• Joseph Weber can be reached at jweber@washingtontimes.com.old.

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