Tom DeLay

As of 2005-10, the former Republican Party US House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom DeLay faced several charges that he was willingly involved in a scheme to launder money and violate campaign finance laws. His activities would have been considered normal in Canada where such laws are lax.

Texas on the other hand is quite strict on these things: "If convicted, the money laundering charge carries a penalty of up to life in prison. The charge of conspiracy to launder money is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The initial conspiracy charge carries a punishment of up to two years."
from an AP story.

DeLay referred to the charge as "totally manufactured and illegitimate. This is an abomination of justice."

"DeLay and two political associates are accused of conspiring to get around a state ban on corporate campaign contributions by funneling money through the DeLay-founded Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee." The US campaign finance limits are often subverted by these Political Action Committees or PACs.

"All of the charges stem from an alleged check for $190,000 in corporate money sent from the political committee to the
Republican National Committee and the Republican National State Elections Committee. The national party then sent a similar amount of money to seven candidates for the Texas House of Representatives in 2002."

"Prosecutors argued that was a violation of the state's ban on the use of corporate money in local election campaigns. DeLay attorney Dick DeGuerin maintained that the money spent on Texas candidates was "lawfully collected from individuals who knew what they were contributing to."

"The indictment alleges that DeLay knowingly facilitated the transfer of the corporate money to help the GOP win a majority in the Texas Legislature."

Far more significant from a US national politics perspective, it then enabled gerrymandering:
"Subsequently, Texas lawmakers adopted a DeLay-engineered congressional redistricting plan to put more Texas Republicans in Congress, strengthening the GOP grip on Congress as well." Accordingly, the Bush Administration could count on a friendly reception for more of its policies.

The extreme effects of such campaign finance violations are the main reason why there is an extremely harsh attitude to prosecuting offenders in the US, where many billions of dollars can hinge on who holds a majority in the US House or the Senate.

"Two of DeLay's associates, John Colyandro of Austin and Jim Ellis of Washington, were previously indicted on charges of conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws and money laundering."