HOUSTON — Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) could face life in prison if he is convicted of money laundering, one of two crimes he was charged with last week. DeLay, called “the Hammer” for his strong-arm methods, was forced to resign his House leadership position after a Travis County, Texas, grand jury indicted him Sept. 28 on a charge of criminal conspiracy. Five days later he was also indicted for money laundering. He must return to Austin to be fingerprinted and photographed.

The criminal conspiracy indictment is related to DeLay’s involvement with now defunct Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC), which has been indicted for illegally using corporate money during the 2002 elections when Republicans won control of the Texas Legislature. DeLay then pushed through a notorious GOP redistricting plan that resulted in a Republican majority in the current U.S. House of Representatives. His plan included combining precincts in Houston and Austin to achieve a Republican majority.

The money laundering indictment accuses him of maneuvering to violate Texas’ ban on using corporate money in local elections.

The Justice Department is also reportedly investigating DeLay over a 2000 meeting in London with former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher organized by Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is himself the subject of a federal investigation.

DeLay was admonished by the House Ethics Committee in 1999 for threatening the Electronics Industries Alliance for not hiring a Republican as its president. In 2004, he received three admonishments for: creating the appearance that corporate executives were provided special access to a golf retreat in return for $25,000 in contributions to TRMPAC; using the Federal Aviation Administration to obtain information on the location of Texas House Democrats who left the state in an effort to stop the DeLay-engineered redistricting plan; and offering to endorse Rep. Nick Smith’s (R-Mich.) son in his run for Congress in exchange for a favorable vote by Smith on Bush’s Medicare/prescription drug bill.

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle announced DeLay’s indictments. Earle, a Democrat, has a reputation for plaguing Texas politicians who take advantage of their office. He has prosecuted 12 Democrats and 4 Republicans since taking office in 1976.

DeLay’s indictments add to the problems facing the Bush administration. DeLay has been a staunch supporter of President Bush and vice versa. Right-wingers have been unanimous in their support of DeLay, complaining that he is being “railroaded.”