WASHINGTON (AFP) -A Texas court issued an arrest warrant for top Republican lawmaker Tom DeLay in connection with a campaign finance probe, a move dismissed by his spokesman as "simply routine."
The former US House majority leader has been indicted on a single count of criminal conspiracy in connection with a campaign finance scheme and is scheduled to make his first court appearance Friday. Bond was set at 10,000 dollars.
DeLay”s representatives dismissed the warrant.
"This process is standard operating procedure. It”s simply routine," spokesman Ben Porritt told AFP.
"Mr Delay is in good spirits and he”s looking forward to his ability to prove his case in court and looking forward to proving this is nothing but a political obsession and a vendetta of (prosecutor) Ronnie Earle."
The indictment is the latest in a widening series of ethical misconduct allegations involving DeLay, widely seen as one of the most effective and ruthless political operators in Washington, and perhaps the most powerful majority leader ever in the Congress” lower chamber.
DeLay has been given the nickname "The Hammer" for his uncompromising approach to achieving his political aims.
He was the mastermind behind many recent Republican legislative victories in Congress — some of which used unorthodox tactics to gain victories for the White House, over the loud protests of Democrats.
DeLay also orchestrated political victories by Republicans in Texas allowing them to wrest control from Democrats of his home state”s legislature.
The Texas congressman stepped down from his post as Republican Party majority leader in the House of Representatives in September when the indictment was announced.
The indictment follows moves by Earle earlier this month to prosecute DeLay”s defunct political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC), on two charges of illegally using corporate money to help state candidates.
TRMPAC is accused of accepting 120,000 dollars in corporate donations to help Republicans win control of the Texas House of Representatives.
Last year, three close associates of DeLay were indicted by Earle in the widening scandal: TRMPAC director John Colyandro, fundraiser Warren RoBold and Jim Ellis, head of DeLay”s leadership committee.
The Texas lawmaker is a close ally of President George W. Bush, and his arrest is one of several political storms battering the administration.
The arrest comes with Washington in suspense over a federal probe into whether White House aides leaked the identity of a CIA spy to retaliate against her husband, a diplomat who criticized Bush”s rationale for going to war with Iraq.
The probe could lead to the indictment of either Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove or Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney”s chief of staff, both key strategists in the Bush administration.
A USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll published Tuesday found Bush”s job approval ratings at 39 percent, the lowest levels since he took office in January 2001.