Former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay returned to the political fray this week as a board member of the Conservative Political Action Conference, and reflected on the turbulent years since he left Congress.
In an interview with The Washington Times
, the 67-year-old former Texas congressman, who resigned his leadership position in 2005 and did not seek re-election in 2006 amid accusations of campaign finance abuses, spoke of how his trials have humbled him and changed him.
"I used to think I was always right. You know, power makes you arrogant, if you're not careful. But I've I've walked with the Lord," he said. "In 1985, I came to Congress and I was the most self-centered, arrogant jerk that you can imagine — drank too much, everything was all about me. I was the center of my universe."
He added, "It takes a long time to take an arrogant person like me and make him a humbled man."
DeLay discussed his legal ordeal, which cost him $12 million in defense fees over the eight years until he was acquitted, and said it was "the beginning of criminalization of politics. That's what [Democrats] do."
He also talked about how former Republican colleagues distanced themselves from him out of concern for preserving the GOP brand.
"The worst part about it is the Republicans won't do anything about it because they have no backbone."
A Texas trial judge initially convicted DeLay of violating election laws with the penalty of a three year sentence. He successfully appealed and was acquitted three years later, but the acquittal is being appealed, adding to his mounting legal costs.
"I'm not a wealthy man, but I'm raising the money," he said. "I still have a huge, huge following and people that support me."
Friends, he said, had been donating to help him for years.
"I personally don't feel like I lost my reputation," he said. "I know who I am. I know what criminalization of politics is all about. I accepted that challenge some 17 years ago when [former House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi and the other Democrats announced publicly that they were going to take me out in 1996, with my first ethics charges that were dismissed."
With his return to CPAC, DeLay emphasized he is not looking to recapture the limelight.
"I'm really not looking for a resurgence of Tom DeLay," he said. "I haven't been sitting at home, whining and crying in my beer about what's going on."
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