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Posted at 4:49 PM ET, 01/10/2011

Tom DeLay sentenced to three-year prison term

By Chris Cillizza

Former Texas Rep. Tom DeLay was sentenced to three years in prison today.

Former Texas Republican Rep. Tom DeLay was sentenced to a three-year jail term today for illegally funneling corporate money into Texas state House races, a ruling that ends a near-decade long legal and political battle for the former House majority leader.

The sentence, which was handed down earlier today by judge Pat Priest, came less than three months after a jury convicted DeLay of trying to end-run Texas' ban on corporate contributions.

The particulars go like this. In 2002, DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority, a state-based political action committee, donated $190,000 in corporate dollars to the Republican National Committee. The RNC turned around and made donations totaling $190,000 to seven candidates for the Texas state House.

DeLay had chosen not to allow the jury to mete out his punishment, choosing instead to let Priest decide his fate.

"I don't feel remorseful for something I don't think I did," DeLay told the judge, according to the Houston Chronicle. It's not yet clear whether he will seek an appeal of the judgment.

Regardless of the ultimate outcome, the prison sentence is a striking final note for a politician who, less than a decade ago, was at the forefront of the Republican party.

First elected to a Houston-area seat in 1984, DeLay moved up the leadership chain of command with a relentless focus on member needs and a willingness to push harder and faster than many of his colleagues.

That attitude led him to the post of House majority leader under Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.), a title that may have underplayed the influence DeLay exerted over the GOP conference in the early part of the last decade.

That same attitude, however, ultimately caught up with DeLay as a series of ethics charges badly wounded him politically -- forcing him to give up his post as majority leader and ultimately to resign from Congress during the 2006 election.

Since his resignation, DeLay has sought to rehab his tarnished image -- most publicly by agreeing to participate in ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" program. DeLay bowed out of the competition in its early stages citing health issues.

By Chris Cillizza  | January 10, 2011; 4:49 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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Next: Afternoon Fix: Gabrielle Giffords doctor: "We're not out of the woods yet"; Tom DeLay sentenced to three years in prison

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