Washington Indicted Texas Rep. Tom DeLay will serve as a "very powerful adviser" to the Republican leadership while he battles the conspiracy charge that forced him to step aside as House majority leader, a GOP spokesman said Thursday.
"His experience and insight for over a decade of the Republican majority is invaluable to our leadership and to our members and will be used wisely," said Ron Bonjean, spokesman for Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.
Bonjean said Hastert and DeLay - two longtime allies - met privately in the Capitol one day after the Texan was charged with a single count of conspiracy by a Texas grand jury investigating alleged violations of state election law.
The disclosure shadowed Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt's first day as temporary majority leader, although several rank-and-file Republicans said DeLay's legal woes may preclude him from ever regaining his formal place at the GOP leadership table. DeLay said on CNN, "We ought to be able to get some sort of resolution by December."
A Texas judge ordered DeLay to appear in court in Austin on Oct. 21 to face the charge that he conspired to funnel corporate money to state political campaigns.
Conservative Rep. John Shadegg, of Arizona, a former prosecutor, said it may take 18 months to three years before the case runs its course. "I have no idea" whether DeLay will ever return to the leadership, he said.
After weeks spent defending DeLay against allegations of corruption, Republicans said his indictment had unified them at a time of falling polls and internal differences over legislation.