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DeLay Charged With Conspiracy

Updated from 1:01 p.m. EDT

Rep. Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, was indicted Wednesday by a Texas grand jury on allegations he conspired to misuse campaign donations.

DeLay was forced under House rules to step down from his leadership post while the case progresses. Roy Blunt, the chamber's No. 3 Republican leader, will take over DeLay's duties temporarily.

Two DeLay allies were also charged with diverting corporate donations to Republican candidates for state office, a wire report said. Texas law forbids the use of political donations from corporations for anything but administrative expenses.

A political action committee that oversaw the funds has also been charged by the grand jury.

DeLay, an 11-term congressman from Texas, has been House majority leader for three years. He strongly denied any wrongdoing in the case and said it is being pursued for political reasons by a Democratic district attorney.

"I have done nothing wrong ... I am innocent," DeLay said at a news conference in Washington. His prosecutor is an "unabashed partisan zealot" and the charge is "one of the weakest and most baseless indictments in American history," DeLay said.

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