After eight long years, I was finally acquitted last month for lack of evidence of the campaign-finance charges against me in Texas. These trying times have changed me as man, while solidifying my views that our country needs a constitutional revival to return us to our conservative values.
As I have asserted from the get-go, everything I did was legal. When liberals couldn’t succeed in stopping me in the legislative arena, they went after me in the courts.
The trumped-up charges against me by a district attorney in liberal Austin stemmed from a political action committee transferring $190,000 of soft money in 1998 to the Republican National State Elections Committee, which then sent hard money to Texas candidates. For this, they said I was money-laundering and gave me a sentence of three years in prison.
The old saying that a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich proved not the case for me. Ronnie Earle, the district attorney in Austin, went through multiple grand juries that refused to indict me on his evidence. On the last day before the statute of limitations ran out, Mr. Earle used a grand jury that had only been sworn in 30 minutes earlier to finally get his charges against me to stick.
I knew from the start that I could not get a fair trial in liberal Austin. The Constitution gives us the right to a trial by our peers. We did a poll in Travis County, and my name recognition was 90 percent — and they all hated me.
Judge Pat Priest was far from impartial. He was a defeated Democrat who made me wait five years to get to trial. When I tried to get the venue moved to my hometown of Houston, he refused. In court, Judge Priest made it known he thought I was guilty.
With the judge and jury stacked against me, I was powerless. I was not surprised when the verdict found me guilty. I also knew that those people thought my real crime was achieving success with conservative policies in Washington.
When Democrats use the criminal courts to target Republicans for their political agenda, they are aided by a liberal media. When the state appeals court ruled on Sept. 19 that I was not guilty, you didn’t see it on the network-TV news shows. You didn’t read it on the front page of The New York Times, as you did when I was sentenced. Instead, you would have had to flip to Page 14 to read that I’d been cleared.
These criminal charges for political purposes destroy careers and families. I was never a wealthy person, but this battle has cost almost every dollar my wife and I have.
People keep asking if I feel a burden has been lifted since I won this appeal. Well, I never felt a burden because the Lord carried it for me and used this period to mold me into a better man. I only wish I could have carried the burden for my family so they didn’t have to suffer so terribly from watching helplessly during these relentless political attacks on me.
Going through this trial and losing my position as majority leader in the House gave me a dose of humility. The Lord used this period to work on my arrogance. I approach life now from a different point of view.
I have a new empathy for those struggling, those on the edges of society, those considered powerless. I better understand now the message of Jesus’ beatitudes. Blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, the persecuted.
Over these past few years, I have watched from the outside how Washington has changed our country for the worse. President Obama and those who believe in his political philosophy are leading us down the path of other socialist nations. The end result of this movement will be a permanent loss of freedom, a lower standard of living and, eventually, an economic crash.
Yet I have hope that we can stop this Obamanation and return power to the states and individuals. I see the pushback against big government in the state legislatures, the governors and in the grass-roots Tea Party.
Right now in Washington, the Republicans are fighting over letting Obamacare become fully implemented. I agree with the decision by House Republicans to hold back on allowing the government to be funded until the president concedes some change to his national health care system.
Now that Republicans have started down that road, they must not waver. Once the federal government gets complete control of health care, we will lose individual freedom that we can never recover. This is worth the fight.
However, I only see GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill playing around the edges and constantly defeated by the left. They are fighting over who can best run the oversized federal government. That is not what we should be debating.
We have to fight for reducing and deconstructing this enormous, unconstitutional behemoth. I’m convinced that the only way to do that is for the citizens to start a revolution for the Constitution.
The left’s purpose in pursuing criminal charges against me was to get me out of politics and out of their way. They may have brought me to my knees, but I’m now standing up again. I’m a stronger man now than ever, and I will use my time and energy to pursue the constitutional revival our nation so desperately needs.
Tom DeLay, a former Republican member of the House of Representatives from Texas, was House majority whip and House majority leader.