Washington Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a Texan touched by a lobbying scandal that ensnared some of his former top aides and cost the Republican his leadership post, won't seek re-election to Congress and intends to resign, Republican officials said late Monday.
They said DeLay would leave his seat in May or June.
It was not clear whether or how DeLay could remove his name from the November ballot, but if he did, party officials would presumably be able to select a replacement who could then run against Democratic nominee Nick Lampson.
Also unclear is exactly when DeLay reached his decision, but one official said the congressman began informing close associates late last week. That was around the same time as a second former DeLay aide, Tony Rudy, pleaded guilty in a federal corruption investigation that has reached into DeLay's office.
DeLay was expected to disclose his plans today at a news conference in Houston, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the congressman had not yet made that announcement.
Several officials said DeLay, an 11-term congressman, called Texas members of Congress to tell them he was abandoning his re-election race.
"He'll resign," a former senior DeLay aide added.
In an interview with The Galveston County Daily News in Texas, DeLay said his decision was based partly on troubling internal polling results, including a poll taken after the March Republican primary that showed him narrowly ahead of Lampson.
"Even though I thought I could win, it was a little too risky," DeLay told the Galveston paper.
The congressman told Time magazine Monday that he plans to make his Virginia condiminium his primary residence. "I can do more on the outside of the House than I can on the inside right now. I want to continue to fight for the conservative cause. I want to continue to work for a Republican majority," DeLay told the magazine for its online edition.
House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, called his predecessor "one of the most effective and gifted leaders the Republican Party has ever known."
"He has served our nation with integrity and honor, and I'm honored to call him my colleague and friend," Boehner said.
DeLay relinquished the post as House majority leader last fall upon his indictment in Texas and decided in January against trying to get the leadership post back as an election-year corruption scandal staggered Republicans and emboldened minority Democrats.
A Texas grand jury indicted DeLay on charges related to laundering campaign funds in a Republican bid to win control of the Texas legislature in the 2002 elections. He is accused of funneling corporate donations to Republican candidates for the Texas House in violation of state laws.
Federal prosecutors also are investigating DeLay's ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
DeLay has denied any wrongdoing in both cases.
Earlier this year, DeLay had vowed to run a "very vigorous campaign" and win re-election. But the congressman's woes continued to build over the past week.
On Friday, Rudy, DeLay's former chief of staff, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and promised to help with the federal investigation of bribery and lobbying fraud relating to Abramoff. Rudy admitted conspiring with Abramoff - both while Rudy worked for the Texas congressman and after he left the lawmaker's staff to become a lobbyist himself.
Rudy is the second former DeLay staffer to plead guilty to federal charges in connection with the lobbying probe. Michael Scanlon, a former DeLay press secretary who later became a lobbying partner with Abramoff, pleaded guilty last fall to conspiring to bribe public officials.
Rudy's plea agreement makes no allegation that DeLay did anything wrong.
Just days before Rudy's plea, Abramoff - who is helping the congressional corruption investigation in Washington - was sentenced to nearly six years in prison for fraud in connection with a separate case, a casino boat business deal.