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DeLay Says U.S Government Drops Criminal Probe After Six Years

Former House Republican Leader Tom DeLay said the U.S. Justice Department closed its six-year criminal investigation of his dealings with former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff without any charges.

DeLay, 63, who remains under indictment on state charges of laundering illegal corporate donations to Texas legislative candidates through the Republican National Committee, told reporters it was “good news” that the Justice Department had closed its probe.

The Texas Republican, who resigned from his House seat in 2006 about six months after his indictment on state charges, said on a conference call he “will never understand” why it took the Justice Department so long to close its probe.

Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney said the agency declined to comment.

The U.S. investigation of DeLay was part of a broader probe of political corruption in the Republican-controlled House when DeLay was majority leader.

The investigation netted more than a dozen convictions, including Abramoff, former Ohio Representative Bob Ney and two onetime DeLay aides, Michael Scanlon and Tony Rudy, who were later associates of Abramoff.

Abramoff, a well-connected Republican lobbyist, pleaded guilty in 2006 to charges he tried to corrupt public officials. He cooperated with the Justice Department investigation, as did the former DeLay aides. Abramoff was sentenced to four years imprisonment.

‘No Stone Unturned’

DeLay’s lawyer, Richard Cullen, said a Justice Department prosecutor called him last week to say the investigation of his client had been closed.

“They left no stone unturned; in terms of a thorough investigation, the public got its money’s worth,” Cullen said in a telephone interview.

DeLay said he had voluntarily turned over to U.S. prosecutors e-mails and documents dating back to 1997.

DeLay, nicknamed “the Hammer” because he used a combination of favors and threats to keep his caucus unified, was admonished three times in 2004 by the House ethics committee. He was chastised for hosting a fundraiser that gave donors the impression their contributions would influence legislation and for offering to support a lawmaker’s son in return for his vote on legislation.

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