“Why Was Tom DeLay’s Conviction Tossed? Corporate love set him free.”

My new Slate jurisprudence Essay begins:

Some liberals are no doubt disappointed to hear that a Texas appellate court today, on a 2-1 vote, reversed the conviction of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. They shouldn’t be. There were good reasons to think that DeLay’s prosecution in Texas for violations of state campaign finance law, like the federal prosecutions of former presidential candidate John Edwards and former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, involved politically motivated charges brought by overzealous prosecutors. Today’s ruling is a window into the world of corporate access to elected officials, for sure. But it confirms that the big problem is not what’s illegal, but what’s legal. Check this out: The appeals court saved Tom DeLay’s hide by concluding that corporations were giving money to get “face time” with him.

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