On May 26 a Texas judge turned up the temperature under the soup pot that’s cooking Congressman Tom DeLay’s political career. District Judge Joe Hart ruled that Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee, which DeLay set up, should have reported nearly $600,000 in corporate donations to their 2002 campaign to take over the Texas House of Representatives.

It is illegal in Texas to use corporate donations to elect candidates. TRMPAC says in their appeal and public statements, essentially, that they didn’t. The judge said that they did. He ordered a fine of $196,660 to be paid to the five Democratic candidates who lost targeted races.

The ruling is only a jigsaw piece in a much larger puzzle, but it contributes to a growing trend of public nausea with Tom DeLay, crooked elections and right-wing power grabs stretching from Texas throughout the world.

TRMPAC lost this early round, and still faces more litigation, including a grand jury investigation initiated by the Austin District Attorney. There are, so far, no direct charges against DeLay stemming from the PAC’s 2002 shenanigans.

Texans are watching developments closely, because the 2002 events shaped their world and went far beyond. The TRMPAC-supported candidates in 2002 gave them a right-wing majority in the Texas House and the election of powerful Speaker Tom Craddick. Craddick and his cronies then proceeded to gerrymander federal congressional seats over statewide protests. In 2004, the Texas delegation to the U.S. Congress swung over heavily to the Republican side, which led directly to the Republican majority in the United States House of Representatives.

As with the ascension of George W. Bush to power, what happens in Texas affects the world. The May 26 legal ruling further underlines the question of the legitimacy of Republican power and of the current U.S. government.

The Texas AFL-CIO forwarded this statement from Texans for Public Justice Director Craig McDonald: “Today’s ruling is bad news for Tom DeLay and his TRMPAC cronies. This ruling draws blood from the financial heart of DeLay’s corrupt political empire. This is likely to be but the first of many guilty verdicts against TRMPAC and its leaders.”

DeLay’s hot water bubbled more briskly on May 31, when the Houston AFL-CIO and the Houston Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice sponsored a press conference by Carmencita Chie Abad, a former sweatshop worker from Saipan. House Majority Leader DeLay worked with infamous lobbyist Jack Abramoff to help win an extension of that island’s exemption from federal laws governing minimum wages and overtime pay, according to the Texas AFL-CIO. In an ironic contrast that clarifies the class nature of DeLay’s role in America, he was being simultaneously honored by a businessmen’s group at a luncheon across the hall.