A grand jury in Austin has indicted US House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and two political associates on a charge of criminal conspiracy.
The Associated Press reports the indictment stems from a plan
DeLay backed to help Republicans win control of the Texas House in
But a DeLay spokesman has dismissed the charge as politically
motivated by Travis County District attorney Ronnie Earle, who's a
DeLay, who's a Republican from Sugar Land, is being forced to temporarily relinquish his leadership post. He'll remain in Congress.
The indictment also names John Colyandro, who's a former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan says President Bush
still considers DeLay a friend and effective leader in Congress.
The indictment accuses DeLay of a conspiracy to "knowingly make a political contribution" in violation of Texas law outlawing corporate contributions.
Criminal conspiracy is a state felony punishable by six months to two years in a state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.