Oct. Court Date Set For DeLay

U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX) makes a brief statement to the news media after he announced that he was stepping down from his leadership position September 28, 2005 at the Capitol in Washington, DC.
GETTY IMAGES/Chip Somodevilla
A Texas judge on Thursday ordered Republican Rep. Tom DeLay to appear in court next month to face the charge that he conspired to funnel corporate money to state political campaigns.

The summons calls for DeLay to appear in the court in Austin on Oct. 21, court officials said.

DeLay's lawyers have said they do not want him to be handcuffed, photographed and fingerprinted when he appears in Austin.

A grand jury indicted DeLay and reindicted two of his associates Wednesday in an investigation of a political fundraising group DeLay founded, Texans for a Republican Majority.

Prosecutors allege the group was used to channel corporate contributions to 2002 GOP legislative candidates. Texas law bans corporate contributions in political campaigns, except for administrative expenses.

Shadowed by scandal, House Republicans face an uncertain new era after a day of upheaval that left Majority Leader Tom DeLay under indictment and forced to surrender his powerful post.

"What we do here is more important than who we are," Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt said Wednesday after the rank and file named him as DeLay's replacement, at least for the time being. "We have an agenda to move forward here."

Democrats, 11 long years in the minority, said the Republicans offered nothing of the sort.

DeLay's indictment marks "the latest example that Republicans in Congress are plagued by a culture of corruption at the expense of the American people," said Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader.

The White House quickly came to DeLay's defense, calling him a "good ally," CBS News correspondent Jim Stewart reports for The Early Show. But White House spokespeople carefully said little else.

Even as DeLay professed his innocence and his lawyers said they hoped to avoid having him handcuffed, fingerprinted and photographed, potential for fresh controversy surfaced.

Records on file with the Federal Election Commission show that Blunt's political action committee has paid roughly $88,000 in fees since 2003 to a consultant facing indictment in Texas in the same case as DeLay.

Keri Ann Hayes, executive director of the Rely On Your Beliefs fund, said officials of the organization have not discussed whether to end the relationship with the consultant, Jim Ellis, in light of his indictment.

"We haven't had that conversation," she said, adding that so far, Ellis' indictment had no impact on his work.

DeLay's indictment produced a public show of unity among Republicans and a scarcely concealed outbreak of power politics, at a time when polls show dwindling support for President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress. Additionally, Senate Majority Leader Bill First, a Tennessee Republican, faces federal investigations into the sale of stock.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Blunt and other senior Republicans said they expected DeLay to be exonerated. "This temporary arrangement will allow us to continue our work until (he) can resume his duties as majority leader," said Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the deputy whip who will assume many of Blunt's old duties in the leadership shuffle.

Other expressions of support were more tempered.

"It is our sincere hope that justice will remain blind to politics. As Tom DeLay clearly stated today, House Republicans will continue to focus on the business of the American people," GOP party chairman Ken Mehlman said in a statement that did not assert the Texan's innocence.

Seventy House seats could be up for grabs in the mid-term elections, and Republicans are very worried now because they know they cannot depend on this president and his coattails any longer, reports CBS News correspondent Gloria Borger.

Some Republican lawmakers spoke of the possibility for political damage.

"Any time you have anything that smacks of scandal, it hurts all of us," said Rep. Joel Hefley of Colorado, who served as chairman of the House ethics committee at a time when the panel three times admonished DeLay for his actions.