House majority leader Tom DeLay meets judge, posts $10,000 bail

Rep. Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader who faces Texas conspiracy and money-laundering charges, faced a judge in Austin on Friday, a day after he turned himself in to a Houston-area sheriff. DeLay walked into the bonding department of the Harris County Sheriff's Office shortly early Thursday afternoon and was fingerprinted, photographed and released after posting $10,000 bail, sheriff's spokeswoman Lisa Martinez said. The charges are related to alleged violations of Texas campaign-financing law.

DeLay avoided a group of reporters who waited at the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office, where they had expected him to surrender.

The congressman represents the Houston suburb of Sugar Land in Fort Bend County.

Outside the Harris County building, DeLay lawyer Dick DeGuerin blasted prosecutor and Travis County district attorney Ronnie Earle, accusing him of singling out DeLay for political retribution and planning to use his mug shot in Democratic mailings.

"He's got what he wanted. There's no reason for this. It was pure retaliation on the part of Ronnie Earle," DeGuerin said, holding up DeLay's mug shot. "There he is. Take a good look at him."

He also said the defense team "will expose his prosecution for what he is."

In a written statement, Earle's office said, "We believe that Congressman DeLay should be treated like everyone else."

In his mug shot, a smiling DeLay is wearing a coat and tie. The photograph doesn't have numbers below his image, as do many mug shots, because the county no longer uses such a system, spokeswoman Martinez said.

DeLay was booked a day after a state court issued an arrest warrant for him on Wednesday, ahead of his first scheduled court appearance Friday in Austin.

A grand jury indicted DeLay and his associates John Colyandro and Jim Ellis on conspiracy and money-laundering charges on October 3. They had been indicted on September 28 on charges related to conspiring to violate Texas campaign financing law, CNN informs.

They are suspected of steering $190,000 in corporate donations to state legislative candidates in 2002 and disguising the source by sending the money through national Republican campaign committees. Texas law prohibits corporate donations to political campaigns.

DeLay already has subpoenaed Earle, claiming prosecutorial misconduct in the case, and a hearing will be held on the legitimacy of the prosecution. Earle issued a subpoena last week for DeLay's phone records.

Because of his felony indictment, House GOP rules required DeLay to step down as majority leader, the No. 2 position in the House hierarchy. He was replaced by Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri.

After DeLay's defense raised questions about whether the conspiracy charge applied to the state election code in 2002, Earle went to a second grand jury to instead seek a money-laundering charge against the three.