DeLay, a Republican, was indicted in 2005 on charges he illegally channeled $190,000 in corporate money through the Republican National Committee to help elect GOP candidates in Texas. In her opening statement, Travis County Assistant District Attorney Beverly Mathews told the jury the alleged money laundering was a violation of Texas law -- and was part of a "larger, clever scheme" by DeLay to expand his political power by electing more Republicans to Congress, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
His attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said in his opening statement that the case against DeLay, who resigned from Congress in 2006, "is about politics."
"You cannot convict Tom DeLay because of his politics," DeGuerin told the jury. "And no evidence will show any act done by Tom DeLay other than politics -- good politics, successful politics."
The U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment on a separate, long-running criminal investigation of DeLay. DeLay has said the investigation was closed, with no charges filed.
DeLay was being investigated for his ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials in 2006. Abramoff admitted he defrauded Native American tribal clients out of millions of dollars for help in obtaining casino licenses, CNN said.
DeLay said he no longer has a relationship with Abramoff.