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The Film: How Tom DeLay Stole Congress

The New York Times reports that a documentary film about the Texas criminal investigation that led to the indictment of Representative Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader, on campaign fund-raising charges is being put to good use today.

The film, "The Big Buy: How Tom DeLay Stole Congress," will be distributed this spring by the Hollywood producer Robert Greenwald. It will not follow a traditional theatrical rollout but will instead open in a few cities before being made widely available on DVD.

An important aspect of the release plan is to organize house parties in May and June at which the movie will be shown, Mr. Greenwald said. The distribution strategy is to be detailed today � primary day in Texas � he said. Mr. DeLay's lawyer, Dick DeGuerin said he had refused to sit down with the filmmakers for an interview. (Mr. DeGuerin appears on camera in public question-and-answer sessions with the news media.)

The filmmakers, Mark Birnbaum and Jim Schermbeck, spent three years following what began as a state legislative battle over Mr. DeLay's push to artificially redraw Congressional districts in Texas in 2002, and mushroomed into a nationally watched standoff. It ultimately wound up as a criminal case, with Mr. DeLay and his allies coming into the cross hairs of Ronnie Earle, the district attorney of Travis County, Texas.

It was Mr. Earle's argument, in the indictment last September, that Mr. DeLay had engineered the Republican takeover of the Texas legislature in 2002 by breaking a state law banning companies from donating to individual candidates, essentially laundering tens of thousands of dollars in contributions through the Republican National Committee.

Mr. Birnbaum, 57, of Dallas, a veteran documentary maker who started out in public television, and Mr. Schermbeck, 47, of Lubbock, Tex., a longtime community organizer, said in a telephone interview that they had tried mightily but failed to get Mr. DeLay to return their calls, while the district attorney, Mr. Earle, made himself readily available. Nonetheless, they said, they had strived for an evenhanded approach, one they had used in their only previous collaboration, a 2003 film for the PBS series "P.O.V." about high school drug testing.

Clips from the movie can be viewed online at

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