Now that a federal appeals court has acquitted former Rep. Tom DeLay of violating campaign finance laws, he said Thursday he was ecstatic about the return of one constitutional right.
"I can get my concealed weapon license back," the Texas Republican said at a news conference in Washington, D.C., The Washington Times reports.
The former House majority leader made the comment after sharing a private lunch with Republican legislators from Texas, according to The Dallas Morning News.
In 2010, DeLay was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison on charges of money laundering. They stemmed from accusations that in 2002 he improperly steered $190,000 in corporate campaign donations to Republican candidates for the Texas legislature.
But pending the outcome of the appeal, DeLay remained free on probation.
DeLay had already resigned as majority leader and had left Congress by the time of his conviction. He resigned the leadership post in September 2005, after a Texas grand jury initially indicted him on conspiracy charges stemming from a state campaign finance investigation.
A month later, DeLay was also indicted on state money-laundering charges. But by the end of 2005, a Texas judge had dismissed the conspiracy complaint.
Over the years, however, the court proceedings in DeLay's case were sidelined a number of times. Several judges had recused themselves because of political ties — and because of anti-Republican comments, at least one member of an appeals panel was removed.
DeLay, who said he was at a prayer meeting when he learned of the appellate court ruling from his lawyer, said being out of politics for eight years had not embittered him, though he did not intend to run for office again.
"Because I'm walking with the Lord, I had no burden," he said at the news conference. "He's had the burden. He carried it."
DeLay's immediate plans? A book about constitutional revival in the federal government. The working title, according to the Morning News: "Shut Her Down."
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