Thomas Dale DeLay (born April 8, 1947) is a former member of the United States House of Representatives from Sugar Land, Texas. He was House Majority Leader 2003–2005, when his high profile legal problems forced him to step down, and is a prominent member of the Republican Party.
DeLay was first elected to the House in 1984. He became known as "The Hammer" for his enforcement of party discipline in close votes and his reputation for taking political retribution on opponents. He was appointed Deputy Minority Whip in 1988 and was elected House Majority Whip in 1995 after helping Newt Gingrich to lead the Republican Revolution. In the 1990s, he helped to start the K Street Project, an effort to pressure lobbying firms to hire Republicans to top positions. DeLay was elected House Majority Leader after the 2002 midterm elections, and compelled House Republicans to unite to an unprecedented degree, especially in support of President George W. Bush's agenda.
In early 2000, DeLay helped to coordinate efforts to redistrict congressional districts in Texas to favor the election of more Republicans.
In 2005, a Texas grand jury indicted DeLay on criminal charges that he had conspired to violate campaign finance laws during that period. DeLay denied the charges and pled not guilty, saying they were politically motivated and the law he was indicted under did not apply until later, but Republican Conference rules forced him to resign temporarily from his position as Majority Leader. Despite the charges, and DeLay's Constitutional right to a speedy trial, the prosecutor has still not brought the case before a jury. In January 2006, under pressure from fellow Republicans, DeLay announced that he would not seek to return to the position. In the months before and after this decision, two of his former aides were convicted in the Jack Abramoff scandal. DeLay ran for re-election in 2006, and won the Republican primary election in March 2006, but, citing the possibility of losing the general election, he announced in April 2006 that he would withdraw from the race and resign his seat in Congress. He resigned on June 9, 2006, and sought to remove his name from the ballot. The court battle that followed forced him to remain on the ballot, despite having withdrawn from the race.