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DeLay steps down as House Majority Leader under legal cloud

[JURIST] Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) [official website; JURIST news archive] announced in a letter [AP text] to rank-and-file Republican Representatives Saturday that he was formally stepping down as House Majority Leader [official website]. DeLay was forced to temporaily step aside last fall after he was indicted [JURIST report] on campaign finance charges in Texas, his home state. He had hoped to resume his duties after clearing his name, but the Texas proceeding has taken longer than anticipated and DeLay had recently come under pressure from other Republicans concerned about their own campaigns in the wake lobbyist Jack Abramoff's guilty pleas to conspiracy and fraud charges [JURIST report] last week. The White House issued a statement Saturday supporting DeLay’s decision. House Republicans will likely elect a new Majority Leader the week of January 30, when lawmakers return to the Capitol. In a separate letter [AP text] to Speaker Dennis Hastert [official website], DeLay maintained that he will seek re-election to his House seat in November. AP has more.

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