Tom DeLay, once the most powerful man in the House of Representatives, was sentenced to three years in prison Monday. But it could have been much worse. Per the Associated Press:
Senior Judge Pat Priest sentenced him to the three-year term on the conspiracy charge. He also sentenced him to five years in prison on the money laundering charge but allowed DeLay to accept 10 years of probation instead of more prison time.
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert testified as a character witness on DeLay’s behalf, to no apparent avail. DeLay plans to appeal, but it is a remarkable thing. In most countries, there is corruption among senior political leadership. But the United States system has again distinguished itself by holding that leadership accountable, at least some of the time. DeLay joins a long line of congressmen, like Dan Rostenkowski and Bob Ney, who have found themselves stripped of their liberty for their misdeeds.
In recent days, a major Democratic fundraiser and lobbyist, Paul Magliocchetti, was sentenced to 27 months in prison for evading campaign finance laws as he showered defense appropriators, including the late John Murtha of Pennsylvania and Jim Moran of Virginia, with campaign cash as the members of Congress appropriated money that benefited Magliocchetti’s clients.
These are reasons to be proud of our often imperfect Democratic system.