Accompanied by his lawyer, a defiant former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay reiterated Wednesday that he was sentenced to three years in prison for political reasons and that he had done nothing wrong.
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"I was tried in the most liberal county in the state of Texas, and indeed in the United States," DeLay told the TODAY Show's Matt Lauer in an exclusive interview. "The point is that this is a political campaign."
Sitting by his side, DeLay's attorney, Richard DeGuerin, called the conviction a "political prosecution" that was brought on because DeLay "was so successful in bringing about redistricting in Texas."Video: DeLay: Liberals sentenced me to jail (on this page)
"The money that came to Texas from the Republican party had been collected all across the country from individuals, there was no corporate money," DeGuerin said, adding that his appeal will be based partly on a 2009 Supreme Court ruling that overturned a longtime ban on political activities by corporations and unions.What's next for Tom DeLay?
In the interview, DeLay also said he stood by his stance on loosening gun control laws and promoting gun owners' rights in the wake of the recent shooting rampage in Arizona that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition.
"If I was still in congress I would welcome and urge those who can carry to come to my town meetings, I’d feel safer having them there," DeLay said. "Gun control and grandstanding doesn't help anyone."
Sentenced to 3 years
DeLay, once considered among the nation's most powerful and feared lawmakers, was sentenced to three years in prison Monday for a scheme to influence elections that already cost him his job, leadership post and millions of dollars in legal fees.
DeLay remained defiant as he faced the judge's sentence earlier this week, insisting he committed no crime and was the victim of selective prosecution by authorities targeting his politics.Do power players ever actually go to prison?
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"Everything I did was covered by accountants and lawyers telling me what I had to do to stay within the law," the Houston-area Republican said. "I can't be remorseful for something I don't think I did."
But Senior Judge Pat Priest disagreed with DeLay, saying those who write laws should be bound by them, and sentenced the man once considered one of the nation's most powerful and feared lawmakers to three years in prison.
The sentence came after a jury convicted DeLay in November on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money launder for using a political action committee to illegally send corporate donations to Texas House candidates in 2002.
Prosecutors said DeLay will likely be free for months or even years while his appeal makes its way through the Texas court system.
DeLay declined to talk to reporters after he posted a $10,000 bond following three hours in the Travis County jail, where he was taken after being sentenced.
DeLay says charges are politically motivated
During a 10-minute speech to the judge before his sentencing, DeLay said the politically motivated case against him had affected his wife's health, forced him to raise and spend $10 million in legal fees and cost him everything he had worked for — including the second-highest post in the U.S. House.
"Just because somebody disagrees with you they got to put you in jail, bankrupt you, destroy your family," he said.
DeLay was convicted in Travis County, one of the most Democratic counties in Texas, which is one of the most Republican states in the country.
Lead prosecutor Gary Cobb said there was nothing political about DeLay's prosecution and called the former congressman "arrogant" for not taking responsibility for his crime.
"He's been accusing us of (politics) ever since Day One. But every time someone opposes him, tries to hold him to account for something he's done, he accuses those people of politics," Cobb said.
After the sentencing, DeLay's attorney Dick DeGuerin said only that the case would not stand on appeal.
After a month-long trial in November, a jury determined DeLay conspired with two associates to use his Texas-based political action committee to send $190,000 in corporate money to an arm of the Washington-based Republican National Committee. The RNC then sent the same amount to seven Texas House candidates. Under Texas law, corporate money can't go directly to political campaigns.
Prosecutors claim the money helped Republicans take control of the Texas House. That enabled the GOP majority to push through a Delay-engineered congressional redistricting plan that sent more Texas Republicans to Congress in 2004, strengthening DeLay's political power.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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