Prosecutors—and politicians—around the country are paying close attention to Tom DeLay's conviction on money laundering charges. The former House majority leader was found guilty of funneling corporate cash to fellow Republicans, thereby violating Texas laws that ban companies from contributing to candidates' campaigns, and legal experts expect the verdict will inspire prosecutors in the 22 states with similar laws to start targeting fundraising methods.
The conviction "will put more people on notice that something which by one perspective might be considered as legal on the other can be characterized as money laundering," a Columbia University Law School professor tells the Wall Street Journal. Some experts, however, note that while politicians will probably be dissuaded from using the same money-swapping tricks as DeLay, this year's Supreme Court decision giving corporations the same free-speech rights as individuals means corporations now have more options to influence elections. (Read more Tom DeLay stories.)