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May 19, 2005

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» On Ronnie Earle Raising Money For Democrats. from WILLisms.com
Ronnie Earle is at it again. The partisan Democrat District Attorney from Travis County (Austin), Texas, has, because of a quirk in the Texas law, the peculiar jurisdiction over statewide political issues, and he has persistently abused that authority ... [Read More]

» JustOneMinute: Activate The "Auto-Discredit" Function from Word Up 1
Link: JustOneMinute: Activate The "Auto-Discredit" Function. [Read More]

» TEXVAC GOOD, TRMPAC BAD, YOU STUPID!! from Blogarifica
Ronnie Earle is not investigating DeLay’s PAC for raising money to help take over the Texas House. He is investigating DeLay’s PAC for illegally funneling corporate contributions into Texas politics against Texas law. [Read More]

» On Ronnie Earle Raising Money For Democrats. from WILLisms.com
Ronnie Earle is at it again. The partisan Democrat District Attorney from Travis County (Austin), Texas, has, because of a quirk in the Texas law, the peculiar jurisdiction over statewide political issues, and he has persistently abused that authority ... [Read More]

» LeBra Custom Front End Covers, Hood from Car Bras
It's just too funny how guys can think of their cars as being as sexy as their cars. I mean i think these car bras really sell because of sex appeal. Amazing! [Read More]

» Since I'm a Texan.... from Media Lies
....I suppose I should have something to say about Tom Delay's indictment. I don't like Delay any better than I do a lot of other politicians who talk out of both... [Read More]

» POLITICS: Ronnie Earle, Movie Star from Baseball Crank
Apparently, the Austin, Texas DA has been letting a film crew record his pursuit of Tom DeLay. And Earle's methods of pressuring corporations to pay off his favorite causes in exchange for leniency are . . . unorthodox, to say... [Read More]

» black car-bra from Fast Car
Advertiser Adelaide, Australia - Sep 5, 2005 the now-customary black plastic "car-bra" covering front Evo X will be a feature car for Mitsubishi [Read More]

Comments

Harry Arthur

From the link above: "A newly formed Democratic political action committee, Texas Values in Action Coalition, hosted the May 12 event in Dallas to raise campaign money to take control of the state Legislature from the GOP, organizers said.

Earle, an elected Democrat, helped generate $102,000 for the organization.

In his remarks, Earle likened DeLay to a bully and spoke about political corruption and the investigation involving DeLay, the House majority leader from Sugar Land, according to a transcript supplied by Earle.

"This case is not just about Tom DeLay. If it isn't this Tom DeLay, it'll be another one, just like one bully replaces the one before," Earle said.

"This is a structural problem involving the combination of money and power," he added. "Money brings power and power corrupts."

The crowd of 80 to 100 Democratic activists responded by making donations that exceeded the event's fund-raising goal."

Just a few questions popped into my mind:

If this is a fundamentally structural problem and the combination of money and power results in corruption how is it that this group will be any different?

Does this structural relationship between money, power and corruption ONLY apply to Delay and republicans?

Since this isn't about Tom Delay but about one bully replacing another, is Mr. Earle suggesting that the democrat that he would like to replace Delay would be just another bully in the chain?

Since these democratic activists' contributions exceeded the fundraising goal does that imply that they are particularly corrupt, given the established structural relationship between money and corruption?

Since Mr. Earle has clearly established his lack of objectivity and fairness vis-a-vis Mr. Delay, should he recuse himself from any future legal actions regarding Mr. Delay?

Luckily, there are those citizens like Mr. Earle in our midst who are above the mere search for power, who are uncorruptible by filthy money and who have only our best interests at heart. Standing above the fray they altruistically go about their daily lives seeking only to serve their fellow citizens. It's a shame they are only democrats. Wouldn't it be a better world if just a few republicans could find it in their evil hearts to rise to that level?

Patrick R. Sullivan

I don't know which is more indicative of Democrats' stupidity, Earle saying this at a FUND RAISER:

"This is a structural problem involving the combination of money and power," he added. "Money brings power and power corrupts."

Or that the crowd coughed over $100,000 in response.

Beto Ochoa

Recently a felony murderer in Austin was allowed to plea to four years because he "Fell through the cracks" at the DA level.
In the end I don't actually know whether the DeLay investigation distracted Mr. Earls office from protection of the public. The fact remaining is the people he is sworn to protect have been shorted critical protection from a very dangerous man. Sadly, I believe from the available information, the indictments against the people involved with Congressman DeLay will be a wild goose chase on a level that eclipsis the Kay Bailey Hutchison fiasco. Perhaps if that manpower had been otherwise directed a man who would have been eligible for the death penalty will not be on the streets in 2007.
The underlying premise in your editorial is correct. Earle could be chasing people in his party as well for the same reasons he is chasing these republicans. It is very much like the police observing looters of all races but only arresting the black ones.

Crank

This is reminiscent of Spitzer's campaign touting the still-ongoing AIG investigation. It's one thing for a prosecutor to run on the scalps on his belt, it's another to make explicit that his prosecutions are part of a political strategy.

Thomas Nephew

Earle is an elected Democrat helping raise funds for his fellow party members in an entirely legitimate way. He is now investigating whether DeLay and his cohorts broke Texas laws, which specifically prohibit the use of corporate money for political activity. Regardless of his party affiliation, Earle has prosecuted Democrats for corruption when that was called for.

There's nothing wrong here. It's disappointing to see you imply otherwise, Tom.

Mark

I seem to recall a big shot prosecutor, conicidentally a Democrat, coming to Onondaga County to root out corruption. I think our County Executive, coincidentally a Replublican, ended up getting fined $50 for some sort of technical electoral violation. After months of effort, and thousands of dollars.

Shortly thereafter the then mayor of Syracuse was caught by the FBI and convicted of taking kickbacks for city business and sent to prison. A less cynical person than myself might believe it was totally coincidental that the Democrat Attorney General's office failed to investigate a Democrat mayor for corruption that was common knowledge throughout the city.

I'm glad Texas is not prone to such corrupt behaviour.

Dwilkers

No.

I have little use for Delay. Frankly I think he is a boob, especially for his actions to block federal matching funds for mass transit projects in Houston that had already been approved and were going forward no matter what, at the behest of his construction industry pals. But Delay is a duly elected representative and if his constituents get tired of his behavior they can vote someone else into office.

Mr. Earle, however, is a different story altogether. Ronnie Earle is a tinpot DA from the most liberal county in the state of Texas that uses his public trust to attempt prosecution of those he perceives as his political enemies. I well remember Mr. Earle's attempt to prosecute Kay Bailey Hutchison, an attempt that caused Mr. Earle to get tossed out of court on his ear by the judge on the first day of the case.

If one believes that Mr. Earle's investigation of Mr. Delay and his associates is important and not a partisan abuse then it seems to me one should be appalled by Mr. Earle's undermining this important investigation by shooting off his mouth at a fund raiser this way.

In the end I am way more concerned about someone that uses their political office to undermine and corrupt the criminal justice system by prosecuting their political enemies than I am by some boob like Delay going on junkets with the corn growers association or some such hokum.

Ripclawe

Earle looks like a goof, even the Delay hating Houston Chron realizes how idiotic this looks.

http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/editorial/3190300

clint.thomson

I was at the fundraiser and the detractors here are way off base. Out of a 20 monute speech Earle mentioned Delay once in one sentence. Once. This is nothing more than DeLay and his minions trying to divert attention away from his unehtical behavior. DeLay seems totally incapable of following the rules. Ronnie, a Deomocrat, spoke at a democratic function. Oh, my God! How horrible! What was he thinking? TEXVAC is a legal PAC raising money legally from everyday Texans and acting within the sytem, unlike DeLay's PAC which stong-armed out-of-state corporations to illegally give money to meddle in Texas affairs. Ronnie did nothing more than show a moron (DeLay) how to act within the political rules.

ed

Hmmm.

"Ronnie did nothing more than show a moron (DeLay) how to act within the political rules."

Funny how it's always a democrat DA that's involved in politicised investigations. Then again it's just the flip side of the same coin. On the one side politically manipulative prosecutors who abuse their powers to influence the electorate. On the other side politically manipulative judges.

Different names, same schtick.

antimedia

Dallas Morning News had a story yesterday:

http://www.dallasnews.com/s/dws/news/texassouthwest/stories/052005dntexearle.c455f694.html

You have to understand....Austin is the one place in Texas where a liberal would feel right at home. Ronnie has no problem getting re-elected there, ESPECIALLY if he's going after Republicans.

Harry Arthur

Clint, I'm wondering if you don't feel dirty and corrupted by the money, power and corruption clearly present at this fund raiser? After all this is a structural thing you know.

Can't help but also wonder also whether your group was able to select a "bully" to support to replace Delay.

Since the fund raising goal was exceeded I can only assume that the answer to both questions is "yes."

Clint Thomson

To start for those of you commenting on something which you know nothing about. Ronnie Earle has prosecuted three to four times as many Democrats and he has Republicans, how does to compute in the partisanship of it all ???

Second, Ronnie Earle is not investigating DeLay’s PAC for raising money to help take over the Texas House. He is investigating DeLay’s PAC for illegally funneling corporate contributions into Texas politics against Texas law.

Let’s repeat together, shall we? Corporate contributions, bad! Raising money from everyday hard working Texans who are tired of the corruption in Austin and tired of the Republicans running our state into the ground, good.

If you are somehow implying that TEXVAC is like DeLay's group, you are just plain wrong (that’s Texan for you’re blowin’ smoke out your ass). TEXVAC follows the law, DeLay’s PAC breaks it. TEXVAC plays by the rules, DeLay’s PAC ignores the rules, and that they most assuredly learned from DeLay. TEXVAC raised $100K. That is chump change compared to what DeLay’s PAC raised. Hell, they can get more than that shaking down one special interest lobbyist.

Ronnie Earle was simply showing DeLay how you play by the rules. It’s like showing a three year-old how to clean up after himself so that maybe he can do it right the next time.

Not that it will help. DeLay and his cohorts, and the entire Texas Republican leadership, are hardwired differently than the rest of us decent folks. They are genetically incapable of following the rules.

So let’s repeat for the ethically challenged among us (read Republicans). Earle’s investigation is of DeLay’s PAC not DeLay (not yet) and it has to do with illegal campaign contributions. Earle isn’t against politics, he’s against corrupt politicians. Earle has never denied he is a Democrat. He is, but that hasn’t kept him from investigating three times as many Democrats as Republicans as DA.

As Earle puts it, “You can’t abuse power unless you have it. Republicans haven’t had it that long in Texas.” Yes, but they are making up for lost time. Going after cheats and thieves is a decidedly Texas value. Making excuses for them is not. I bet the detractors are not even from Texas.

John Scherwitz

That's right Clint. Corporation money BAD! George Soros money YUMMIE, YUMMIE YUMMIE! Tell me MoveOn.org or the other Soros funded 527s don't spend any money in Texas. I've seen their anti-Delay commercials on my TV. I'm from Texas, Clint. I voted for Tom Delay and I think he is doing a good job. I used to be one of you blind stupid corrupt Texas Democrats. Never again.

Ronnie Earle is abusing his prosecutorial power. Period.

John Scherwitz

I shouldn't say never again. Read this and you'll see there may be hope. Not here but somewhere.

Harry Arthur

Clint, very nice smug, condescending, self-righteous rant about something YOU know nothing about - my ethical standards, or those of any other conservative or republican commentators here I might add. My point above was precisely illustrated by your juvenile tirade.

Republicans are "genetically incapable of following the rules"?? This according to you self-described "decent folks."

Unfortunately a T Y P I C A L ad hominem screed. No real argument, no real facts, just unsubtantiated allegations and character assassination. Sure won me over. Pathetic!

Mel hopkins

Let's take a look at some overlooked facts about politics, corporate cash and campaigns in the Lone Star state.

Ronnie Earle says his motivations are not political, so why did he help inspire a new Democrat political action committee called, Texas Values in Action Committee (TEXVAC), whose mission is for Democrats to takeover the Texas state legislature from the GOP. He even gave a speech at their recent fundraiser and helped bring in over $100,000 in donations. Printed on TEXVAC's Web-site is this disclaimer:

“Note that corporate contributions are prohibited by state law, and only personal checks or credit cards will be accepted.”

That statement is simply not true. Here is what Texas state law says:

Ҥ 253.100. EXPENDITURES FOR GENERAL-PURPOSE
COMMITTEE. (a) A corporation, acting alone or with one or more
other corporations, may make one or more political expenditures to
finance the establishment or administration of a general-purpose committee.”

Also, if Ronnie Earle is so concerned about the amount of corporate and labor money influencing campaigns in Texas then he should look at the Democrats who raised and spent more corporate and labor cash. The following is an excerpt of a non-partisan report called “Passing the Bucks: Texas” compiled by Followthemoney.org.

"National party contributions to Texas state committees increased dramatically over the three election cycles. These committees gave just $2.3 million in 1998, $5.2 million in 2000 and $16.3 million in 2002. The Texas Democratic Party received the bulk of the 2002 contributions, taking in $11 million to the GOP's $5.2 million."

Ronnie Earle got an indictment against Jim Ellis because he claims that Ellis took $190,000 of corporate money raised in Texas (also called “soft” money,) and gave it to the Republican National Committee, and then over a period of two weeks, the RNC sent hard money back to Texas candidates in the exact amount. Well, since the RNC's soft money account and the RNC State Elections Committee account of hard dollars are completely separate, Ellis' action was legal. And, the actual amount that the RNC gave to candidates in that election cycle in Texas equaled over $1 million during that election cycle. (Also see a piece written by elections lawyer Cleta Mitchell http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/commentary/a0036509.cfm)

If Ronnie Earle is concerned about hard for soft or soft for hard money trades, read again an excerpt from “Passing the Bucks: Texas.”

“The Institute found eight trades of soft money for hard money, all between the Democratic National Committee and the Texas Democratic Party. In two trades in 1998, the DNC sent $172,500 in soft money to Texas, and the state party sent back $150,000 in hard money. In two trades in 2000, the DNC sent $150,000 of soft money and received $125,000 in hard money. And over a series of four trades in 2002, the DNC gave the state party $255,000 in soft money, and the Texas Democratic Party sent $225,000 in hard money to the DNC.”

It seems clear to me that Ronnie Earle is partisan and is selectively prosecuting the TRMPAC case because he wants to taint Tom DeLay. TRMPAC fully disclosed their receipts and expenditures as required by the IRS. If Ronnie Earle is concerned about a lack of full disclosure, just take a look at the filed reports of the Texas Trial Lawyers PAC that raised millions in the 2002 election cycle. Not one expenditure is listed other than campaign contributions. Is there no staff to pay for? No rent? No costs for fundraising? No telephone bills? Maybe they didn't list those expenditures because they didn't want anyone to know who actually paid for it. Why doesn't Ronnie Earle ask that question? Maybe perhaps the Trial Lawyers PAC donated tens of thousands of dollars to Earle's campaigns for District Attorney?

A recent LA Times magazine cover story featured Earle's prosecutorial pursuits. Earle was asked if he was nervous about making a mistake in the TRMPAC indictments especially after his abysmal failure in prosecuting Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison in the 90's. His reply that making a mistake in this case “would not be the end of the world.” Tell that to Jim Ellis, one of the three indicted in the TRMPAC case, a widower who is raising his teenage daughter while trying to defend himself from these ridiculous charges.

Earle can so whimsically drag someone like Jim Ellis through this and it would be no big deal if he's wrong?

Harry Arthur

But, Mel, none of this matters. These are only facts. We don't argue from facts or logic, especially when they're so inconvenient and it's so much easier to simply impugn the character and ethics of those with whom we disagree politically.

Thanks for the "Paul Harvey" version - very illuminating.

Mel hopkins

And a few more issues to consider. Four of the eight corporations that were indicted in the TRMPAC case have had their cases dismissed. NOT a plea bargain, but dismissed. Now what is troubling is that all of the corporations had to pay money to a University as a part of their dismissal deal. Sounds like dollars for dismissals to me. How is it legal to make the corporations pay money to get their charges dropped? Some would call that extortion. Congressman Gohmert of TX is asking the same thing. See his House floor speech at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?r109:11:./temp/~r109JDdLhc::

Clint Thomson

John Scherwitz - MoveOn.org and MoveOn PAC are two separate organizations, which are you referring to? Moveon.org is not a PAC and can spend their money in an way they please. Moveon PAC just like TRMPAC and every other PAC in Texas may not use Corporate contributions for anything other than administrative expenses. I will not comments on the other "Soros funded 527s" unless you name them. Also TRMPAC is accused of "Active candidate evaluation and recruitment. Message development. Market research and issue development".

Harry Arthur - You are pathetic. You pick out two sentences from a whole page and personalize them instead of providing some substantive retort. Run out of things to say ?? or out of arguments? What a shame. As for my "very nice smug, condescending, self-righteous rant" I have something to be smug, condescending and self-righteous about. Tom DeLay stinks and he has ever since he sold pesticides. He has been rebuked numerous times and everyone knows that he skirts the legal edge on every issue. Yet you still cling to him with all your might. Are you blind to his bad side or attracted to it? Don't worry, He is very powerful and I doubt that this investigation will take him down. If I were you however, I would distance myself from him as he will eventually fall and take everyone around him down also.

Mel hopkins - I'm not admitting that his motives are political, but if you don't want the DA to be political or partisan, make his position appointed instead of elected.

Second, let’s start to set you straight shall we?

Ronnie Earle did not inspire TEXVAC, you can thank George Bush and Carl Rove for that! I was at the TEXVAC fundraiser that Ronnie Earle spoke at and one of the Co-Founders told me and the rest of the crowd that the second George Bush victory and the blatant neo-conservative tone of this administration as well as the shame of having Bush come from Texas all contributed to the founding of TEXVAC.

The statement on the TEXVAC website is completely true since they will be using the funds raised for political activities (prohibited by state law) and not administrative expenses.

Also from Followthemoney.org You forgot to mention that in 2004 Republicans began leading in Contributions to Party Committees by $3.2M to the Democrats $2.4M. but what do these numbers mean anyway? What's the point? Republicans raised more money in Texas than Democrats by a large margin in both 1998 and 2000. Point?

You are attempting to link the Democratic Party to this investigation and say "look they are also doing it" instead of addressing the case itself. Instead of answering the question, you are diverting attention. This has nothing to do with the Democratic Party, it has to do with a Felon (Tom Delay) and his prosecutor (Ronnie Earle) and if there are any political motivations for this prosecution.

Ronnie Earle's previous prosecutions record is solid and non-partisan (Ronnie Earle has prosecuted three to four times as many Democrats and he has Republicans), I feel that it is the best way in which to answer this charge.

You are all blinded by the defense's attempt to shift attention and blame from the real criminal.

As for Jim Ellis, ignorance is never an excuse against prosecution. The only person I feel sorry for is his teenage daughter who will have to suffer for her father's ignorance or perhaps intentional participation in criminal activity.

Has a crime been committed? Where there is smoke there is fire and if a Grand Jury decided that there was enough evidence to indict some people, then there must be a fire somewhere.

Mel hopkins

Ok, several points. Regarding Followthemoney.org, the major point is that Republicans did raise more hard dollars than Democrats in Texas and Democrats outraised Republicans in soft money. My point is, if Earle is so concerned about soft money influencing Texas politics, go where more of the soft money is -- the Democrats and the lawyers.

As far as Earle inspiring TEXVAC, I was referring to a quote from the PAC's co-founder Russell Langley. See Houston Chronicle excerpt.

"Russell Langley, a co-founder of Texas Values in Action Coalition, said Earle was among those who inspired formation of the committee and that the prosecutor's participation in the campaign was proper.

"'Throughout his career he has represented honesty and integrity in government. ... As long as he was raising money legally, we didn't see any problem with it,'" Langley said."

And who is the felon? Tom DeLay hasn't even been questioned in this case, let alone indicted or convicted.

I do believe Earle's partisanship isn't revealed in who he prosecutes but who he doesn't. Where was Earle when Democrat TX AG Dan Morales was breaking the law? He is now in federal prison. Not only could he have pursued him under the Public Integrity Unit but also because he was in Travis County. Come on. Why didn't Earle investigate Democrat Martin Frost and his Lone Star Fund PAC but convened four grand juries to pursue TRMPAC when they set up their accounts exactly the same way?

TRMPAC sought legal counsel before they acted and felt they were within the law to use corporate money for "establishment and administration" of their PAC. All money raised and spent was disclosed to the IRS as required.

Mel hopkins

Ok, several points. Regarding Followthemoney.org, the major point is that Republicans did raise more hard dollars than Democrats in Texas and Democrats outraised Republicans in soft money. My point is, if Earle is so concerned about soft money influencing Texas politics, go where more of the soft money is -- the Democrats and the lawyers.

As far as Earle inspiring TEXVAC, I was referring to a quote from the PAC's co-founder Russell Langley. See Houston Chronicle excerpt.

"Russell Langley, a co-founder of Texas Values in Action Coalition, said Earle was among those who inspired formation of the committee and that the prosecutor's participation in the campaign was proper.

"'Throughout his career he has represented honesty and integrity in government. ... As long as he was raising money legally, we didn't see any problem with it,'" Langley said."

And who is the felon? Tom DeLay hasn't even been questioned in this case, let alone indicted or convicted.

I do believe Earle's partisanship isn't revealed in who he prosecutes but who he doesn't. Where was Earle when Democrat TX AG Dan Morales was breaking the law? He is now in federal prison. Not only could he have pursued him under the Public Integrity Unit but also because he was in Travis County. Come on. Why didn't Earle investigate Democrat Martin Frost and his Lone Star Fund PAC but convened four grand juries to pursue TRMPAC when they set up their accounts exactly the same way?

TRMPAC sought legal counsel before they acted and felt they were within the law to use corporate money for "establishment and administration" of their PAC. All money raised and spent was disclosed to the IRS as required.

Clint Thomson

I have one word for everyone on the evil man side of the room (read Tom Delay) - CONVICTION. Ha ha.

Well actually, not quiet, but definitely proof of some sort of shannanigans.

As reported quite some time ago. A Republican judge, Hart, who heard testimony in the lawsuit in March but did not rule until now, said in his written decision the contributions should have been reported to the Texas Ethics Commission because “they were used in connection with a campaign for elective office.”

Ceverha argued for TRMPAC that the money went toward administrative costs, not campaigns, however Hart did not buy that defense and awarded the Democrats a total of $196,660 in damages.

He did not rule specifically on whether the money was raised and spent illegally, saying that was “for another trial.” Since this was a civil matter, there was no way to present a criminal charge to be defended.

Still think you smell roses? Or poo-poo?

For your reading pleasure, here is the original article which is but one of the stories on this issue.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7994750/

DELAY'S SECRET CORPORATE CASH FUNNELLING CATCHES UP TO HIM

Reuters reports, “Ethics questions swirling around U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom DeLay mounted on Thursday when a Texas judge ruled that a committee formed by the powerful Republican had violated state law by failing to disclose $600,000 in mostly corporate donations.” Hailing the victory as a win for good, clean government, an attorney leading the charges against DeLay said, “It sends a very clear message to corporations and lobbyists and other folks that this sort of secretive, underhanded activity is against the law and not allowed in Texas.”

Cecil Turner

"Well actually, not quiet, but definitely proof of some sort of shannanigans."

Well, I'm glad it's not funneling foreign funds into presidential campaigns . . . because then we'd have to go through another round of "campaign finance reform." That way we could enact a bunch of further laws (that nobody seems interested in following), and a decade later some hacks would be trying to convince us the way to solve the problem was by limiting public speech within a month or two of elections (unless of course the speaker happens to run a major news corporation). And then and applying that to the internet. (Yeah, like that'll keep Chinese money out of DNC coffers.)

In any event, the ethical dilemma here was whether or not a legislator should be forced to step down from a leadership position if he was indicted. And whether that would help to maintain the highest ethical standards, or merely encourage political opponents to engineer an indictment on flimsy charges. I think that question has been answered.

Clint Thomson

Cecil - I think that you are a democrat at heart. I hope you don't take that as an insult, but surely you have noticed that your statement "solve the problem was by limiting public speech within a month or two of elections (unless of course the speaker happens to run a major news corporation). " clearly looks to me like you are concerned by the media and hoe slanted it has become, yet it puzzels me how you could like media like Clear Channel, Belo, and others to the Demms?

As for control of the media, HELLO ??? Bush has several media scandals in his reign, one of which I'm sure even a chinese citizen has heard of... "Gannon Gate" ring a bell? How do you explain a Gay hooker constantly called upon by the white house press secretary and even the president?? or the two year daily press pass?? Instead of ignoring the huge black spots on your party, why are you not asking these questions? I know I would be asking them it this was a Demm.

I think I would start with this question, "Who was the gay hooker sleeping with in this homophobic religious-right pandering Republican white house to get these privleges?"

I am in no way happy with the Democrats, but come on... I'd rather support sometimes stupid than evil and corrupt.

I think the bigger introspective question here is this, why do you allign with your party? What does your party actually stand for (not the party plan but it's recent record) and why is that appealing to you?

Let me help you plot your party's recent actions.

1) Religious Fundementalism
2) Big Business including Oil, etc.(Fortune 500 not your insignificant small business)
3) Big Spending with Tax Cuts geared toward the top 2% (big deficits)
4) Bully Mentality World Policy (Neo concervatives, we're bigger, so why care what our neighbors think)
5) Selfishness - All About Us, Who cares about the people dying the the Sudan, they are too poor to give a sh&t about. Call us when a 1st world country has a problem.


I am so ashamed of your party I wish I was Canadian when I travel abroad. Are you?

You should be, and by the way, if you travel abroad, pretent to be Canadian, it helps alot.

If you can't travel abroad for finanical reasons, blame your president. Weak Dollar, high unemployment and an International community that hates us all thanks to Bumbeling GW.

Cecil Turner

"I think that you are a democrat at heart."

My main problem with Dems is their utter fecklessness on national defense. If they'd fix that, my vote'd be in play.

"How do you explain a Gay hooker constantly called upon by the white house press secretary and even the president??"

How do you explain the quality of the questions going down when he left? Seriously, pretending the media is in the tank for Bush is laughable. Even liberal studies show the opposite.

"I am so ashamed of your party I wish I was Canadian when I travel abroad. Are you?"

Umm, no. (And they suck even worse at defense.) But it's a personal issue, and if you are, I'd support your decision to switch.

Mel hopkins

Byron York, National Review Online
June 20, 2005, 9:10 a.m.
“Dollars for Dismissals”
The prosecutor in the DeLay case dropped charges in exchange for cash to pet cause.

Ronnie Earle, the Texas prosecutor who has indicted associates of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in an ongoing campaign-finance investigation, dropped felony charges against several corporations indicted in the probe in return for the corporations' agreement to make five- and six-figure contributions to one of Earle's pet causes.

A grand jury in Travis County, Texas, last September indicted eight corporations in connection with the DeLay investigation. All were charged with making illegal contributions (Texas law forbids corporate giving to political campaigns). Since then, however, Earle has agreed to dismiss charges against four of the companies — retail giant Sears, the restaurant chain Cracker Barrel, the Internet company Questerra, and the collection company Diversified Collection Services — after the companies pledged to contribute to a program designed to publicize Earle's belief that corporate involvement in politics is harmful to American democracy.

Some legal observers called the arrangement an unusual resolution to a criminal case, at least in Texas, where the matter is being prosecuted. "I don't think you're going to find anybody who will say it's a common practice," says Jack Strickland, a Fort Worth lawyer who serves as vice-chairman of the criminal-justice section of the Texas State Bar. Earle himself told National Review Online that he has never settled a case in a similar fashion during his years as Travis County district attorney. And allies of DeLay, who has accused Earle of conducting a politically motivated investigation, called Earle's actions "dollars for dismissals."


YOU'VE BEEN A BAD, BAD CORPORATION
On September 21, 2004, a grand jury in Travis County indicted three associates of DeLay — John Colyandro, the head of DeLay's political-action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC), Jim Ellis, a DeLay aide and officer of the committee, and Warren Rebold, a Washington fundraiser. The indictments received front-page coverage, with a number of commentators suggesting that Earle was moving toward ultimately indicting DeLay.

Receiving less attention was the grand jury's decision to indict the eight companies for making allegedly illegal contributions to TRMPAC. In addition to Sears, Cracker Barrel, Questerra, and Diversified Collection Services, the group of indicted companies included Bacardi USA, Westar Energy, Williams Companies, and the trade group Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care. Under Texas law, corporations are not allowed to contribute directly to political campaigns, but are allowed to fund the administrative expenses of a political committee.

After the indictment, Earle announced that his prosecutors had uncovered "the outline of an effort to use corporate contributions to control representative democracy in Texas."

The companies denied wrongdoing. Two sources with extensive knowledge of the case involving one of those companies, Sears, spoke at length to NRO and say that Sears executives were convinced the company had done nothing illegal when it contributed $25,000 to TRMPAC. Given that, according to the sources, Sears lawyers were not interested in a plea bargain to end the case. "We were pretty confident that we would win," one source says.

When the company's representatives spoke to Earle, they discovered that the prosecutor was not as adamant about prosecuting them as his public words might have suggested. Indeed, the sources say Earle was willing to drop the charges, providing Sears met a few of his conditions.

First among those, according to the sources, was that Sears make a significant contribution to an organization known as the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University. The Center is devoted to something called "deliberative polling," which was developed by a Stanford professor (and Earle acquaintance) named James S. Fishkin.

Deliberative polling, according to Fishkin, is designed to measure public opinion on issues about which many members of the public are essentially uninformed. According to the Center's website, it works like this:

Deliberative Polling is an attempt to use television and public opinion research in a new and constructive way. A random, representative sample is first polled on the targeted issues. After this baseline poll, members of the sample are invited to gather at a single place for a weekend in order to discuss the issues. Carefully balanced briefing materials are sent to the participants and are also made publicly available. The participants engage in dialogue with competing experts and political leaders based on questions they develop in small group discussions with trained moderators. Parts of the weekend events are broadcast on television, either live or in taped and edited form. After the deliberations, the sample is again asked the original questions. The resulting changes in opinion represent the conclusions the public would reach, if people had opportunity to become more informed and more engaged by the issues.

Earle and Fishkin know each other. Earle told NRO that he became aware of Fishkin's work a few years ago and had become "casually acquainted" with Fishkin when Fishkin was a professor at the University of Texas in Austin, before moving to Stanford. Fishkin, who told NRO that "I don't know [Earle] really well, but I know him slightly," says he once sent Earle a tape of a deliberative-polling production done in Britain, and that Earle "has talked to me vaguely about doing some kind of project."

Earle says a program based on deliberative polling would be a good way to "educate" Americans about the threat that he believes corporate political activity poses to the country's political system. Such a program's influence, he says, would extend far beyond Texas, which is one of 18 states that ban corporate giving. To be most effective, the program would be televised nationally; Fishkin has in the past done polls in conjunction with MacNeill-Lehrer Productions, the company that produces >The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" on PBS.

"My concern has been that there needed to be a conversation about the role of corporations in American democracy," Earle told NRO. "How do you do that? I think it is vitally important to the future of the country that there be a discussion of this concept."


THE $1 MILLION POLITICAL LESSON
That's where the indicted corporations came in. According to the sources with knowledge of the Sears case, Earle told company representatives that he wanted Sears to contribute to the Deliberative Democracy group at Stanford, and that a program devoted to the dangers posed by corporate political money might cost as much as $1 million.

"They asked for an outrageous amount of money," says one Sears source, noting that the maximum penalty the company would have been forced to pay if it had gone to trial and lost would have been $20,000. "All the defendants would pay in similar amounts to a fund that would fund a symposium or seminar or event that would be produced in conjunction with PBS, and it would be televised, and the goal of it would be to explore the evils of corporate money in politics and why that is a bad thing."

Sears representatives balked at the offer. Not only was the dollar figure too high, but they believed that the resulting program would be devoted solely to bashing the political activities of corporations, while leaving untouched those of labor unions and other interest groups like trial lawyers. The two sides agreed to talk again later.

Sears was not dead set against paying some money into some sort of project, but company officials were determined that it not go to Stanford, which, Sears believed, would produce an anti-corporation project. When Sears raised its objections, Earle was adamant that Stanford get the money. In response, Sears suggested an alternative, saying it might be interested in contributing some amount of money to the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. Even though the university was in his own back yard, Earle still wanted Stanford.

The two sides agreed to talk yet again. The impasse was resolved when, a short time later, Earle changed his mind and agreed that the money — the final figure would be $100,000 — could go to the University of Texas. (As it turned out, a top protégé of Fishkin, professor Robert Luskin, does deliberative polling work at the University of Texas.) The final agreement says that, "The defendant, after discussions with the district attorney, has decided to financially support a nonpartisan, balanced and publicly informative program or series of programs relating to the role of corporations in American democracy, which shall include a program conducted through the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas."

The agreement contained a number of other conditions. First, Sears agreed to "modify [its] website to provide for public access to and disclosure of corporate contributions made by the company." Second, Sears agreed to "not make any illegal corporate political contributions," either in Texas or any other state where such contributions are illegal. Third, Sears agreed to "cooperate with the State of Texas in its prosecution and investigation of any other person for any offense related to the corporate contribution made by defendant." And fourth, Sears agreed to a statement defining its political activity as a danger to the country. "The defendant further acknowledges that the historical basis for the Texas prohibition against corporate political contributions is that they constitute a genuine threat to democracy," the agreement said.

In return, Earle stipulated that the alleged offense charged in the indictment "appears to be restricted to a single incident within the State of Texas and does not constitute a continuing course of conduct." Earle also conceded that Sears had no intent to break the law and "has a history of good citizenship and high ethical standards." Earle noted that Sears had hired a compliance officer, and "has already begun a thorough review of the company's contributions policies and practices." Finally, the agreement said Earle believed that dropping the charges "will serve to cause corporations to more closely monitor and evaluate their political contributions in Texas and throughout the United States."

Earle made similar deals with Cracker Barrel, Questerra, and Diversified Collections Systems. (Cracker Barrel agreed to pay $50,000, and the amount paid by the other two could not be determined by press time.) Cracker Barrel included the text of its agreement with Earle in a filing with the Security and Exchange Commission, where it can be viewed on the SEC's "Edgar" database.


FLIPPED?
Earle's deals with the corporations received relatively little press coverage in light of reporters' continuing interest in the DeLay angle of the story. What coverage there was, was not entirely accurate, according to the Sears sources.

On January 12 of this year, the Los Angeles Times reported that the corporations had "flipped," that is, agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Citing unnamed sources, the paper reported that "information gleaned from the companies could be used as leverage to pressure remaining defendants and, potentially, to target more powerful members of the Republican Party in Texas and Washington."

The "flipped" reference rankled insiders. "That was absolutely not true," says one Sears source. "There was no shred of truth to it." Sears officials, the sources say, had already cooperated fully, telling Earle everything they knew about Sears' lone contribution to TRMPAC. In addition, the sources say, Sears had no knowledge of any illegal activity on the part of anyone else. The implication that Sears had turned state's evidence and might finger other companies involved in similarly illegal acts — which, of course, Sears denied it had committed — was, the sources contend, simply wrong.

In any event, the agreements between Earle and the corporations struck some outside observers as not only unusual but also indicative of the highly political nature of the case. "What does funding think tanks and polling organizations have to do with a violation of the criminal law?" asks former United States Attorney Joseph DiGenova, who has publicly supported DeLay. "This is an extortionate use of the indictment power." One close ally of DeLay calls it a "dollars for dismissals" scheme.

Making the situation worse, say DeLay allies, is what they believe is Earle's political motivation in pursuing DeLay. As an example, they point to Earle's attendance at a Democratic fundraiser in Dallas on May 12, in which Earle publicly discussed DeLay. For his part, Earle, an elected Democrat, has denied have any partisan purpose in the investigation. Whatever the case, Earle's dismissal of the charges against Sears, Cracker Barrel, and the other corporations has at least raised the question of whether his allegations were very strong in the first place.

— Byron York, NR's White House correspondent, is the author of the new book The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy: The Untold Story of How Democratic Operatives, Eccentric Billionaires, Liberal Activists, and Assorted Celebrities Tried to Bring Down a President — and Why They'll Try Even Harder Next Time.


------------------------------------------------------------------------

 
 
http://www.nationalreview.com/york/york200506200910.asp
     


Mel hopkins

Byron York, National Review Online
June 20, 2005, 9:10 a.m.
“Dollars for Dismissals”
The prosecutor in the DeLay case dropped charges in exchange for cash to pet cause.

Ronnie Earle, the Texas prosecutor who has indicted associates of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in an ongoing campaign-finance investigation, dropped felony charges against several corporations indicted in the probe in return for the corporations' agreement to make five- and six-figure contributions to one of Earle's pet causes.

A grand jury in Travis County, Texas, last September indicted eight corporations in connection with the DeLay investigation. All were charged with making illegal contributions (Texas law forbids corporate giving to political campaigns). Since then, however, Earle has agreed to dismiss charges against four of the companies — retail giant Sears, the restaurant chain Cracker Barrel, the Internet company Questerra, and the collection company Diversified Collection Services — after the companies pledged to contribute to a program designed to publicize Earle's belief that corporate involvement in politics is harmful to American democracy.

Some legal observers called the arrangement an unusual resolution to a criminal case, at least in Texas, where the matter is being prosecuted. "I don't think you're going to find anybody who will say it's a common practice," says Jack Strickland, a Fort Worth lawyer who serves as vice-chairman of the criminal-justice section of the Texas State Bar. Earle himself told National Review Online that he has never settled a case in a similar fashion during his years as Travis County district attorney. And allies of DeLay, who has accused Earle of conducting a politically motivated investigation, called Earle's actions "dollars for dismissals."


YOU'VE BEEN A BAD, BAD CORPORATION
On September 21, 2004, a grand jury in Travis County indicted three associates of DeLay — John Colyandro, the head of DeLay's political-action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC), Jim Ellis, a DeLay aide and officer of the committee, and Warren Rebold, a Washington fundraiser. The indictments received front-page coverage, with a number of commentators suggesting that Earle was moving toward ultimately indicting DeLay.

Receiving less attention was the grand jury's decision to indict the eight companies for making allegedly illegal contributions to TRMPAC. In addition to Sears, Cracker Barrel, Questerra, and Diversified Collection Services, the group of indicted companies included Bacardi USA, Westar Energy, Williams Companies, and the trade group Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care. Under Texas law, corporations are not allowed to contribute directly to political campaigns, but are allowed to fund the administrative expenses of a political committee.

After the indictment, Earle announced that his prosecutors had uncovered "the outline of an effort to use corporate contributions to control representative democracy in Texas."

The companies denied wrongdoing. Two sources with extensive knowledge of the case involving one of those companies, Sears, spoke at length to NRO and say that Sears executives were convinced the company had done nothing illegal when it contributed $25,000 to TRMPAC. Given that, according to the sources, Sears lawyers were not interested in a plea bargain to end the case. "We were pretty confident that we would win," one source says.

When the company's representatives spoke to Earle, they discovered that the prosecutor was not as adamant about prosecuting them as his public words might have suggested. Indeed, the sources say Earle was willing to drop the charges, providing Sears met a few of his conditions.

First among those, according to the sources, was that Sears make a significant contribution to an organization known as the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University. The Center is devoted to something called "deliberative polling," which was developed by a Stanford professor (and Earle acquaintance) named James S. Fishkin.

Deliberative polling, according to Fishkin, is designed to measure public opinion on issues about which many members of the public are essentially uninformed. According to the Center's website, it works like this:

Deliberative Polling is an attempt to use television and public opinion research in a new and constructive way. A random, representative sample is first polled on the targeted issues. After this baseline poll, members of the sample are invited to gather at a single place for a weekend in order to discuss the issues. Carefully balanced briefing materials are sent to the participants and are also made publicly available. The participants engage in dialogue with competing experts and political leaders based on questions they develop in small group discussions with trained moderators. Parts of the weekend events are broadcast on television, either live or in taped and edited form. After the deliberations, the sample is again asked the original questions. The resulting changes in opinion represent the conclusions the public would reach, if people had opportunity to become more informed and more engaged by the issues.

Earle and Fishkin know each other. Earle told NRO that he became aware of Fishkin's work a few years ago and had become "casually acquainted" with Fishkin when Fishkin was a professor at the University of Texas in Austin, before moving to Stanford. Fishkin, who told NRO that "I don't know [Earle] really well, but I know him slightly," says he once sent Earle a tape of a deliberative-polling production done in Britain, and that Earle "has talked to me vaguely about doing some kind of project."

Earle says a program based on deliberative polling would be a good way to "educate" Americans about the threat that he believes corporate political activity poses to the country's political system. Such a program's influence, he says, would extend far beyond Texas, which is one of 18 states that ban corporate giving. To be most effective, the program would be televised nationally; Fishkin has in the past done polls in conjunction with MacNeill-Lehrer Productions, the company that produces >The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" on PBS.

"My concern has been that there needed to be a conversation about the role of corporations in American democracy," Earle told NRO. "How do you do that? I think it is vitally important to the future of the country that there be a discussion of this concept."


THE $1 MILLION POLITICAL LESSON
That's where the indicted corporations came in. According to the sources with knowledge of the Sears case, Earle told company representatives that he wanted Sears to contribute to the Deliberative Democracy group at Stanford, and that a program devoted to the dangers posed by corporate political money might cost as much as $1 million.

"They asked for an outrageous amount of money," says one Sears source, noting that the maximum penalty the company would have been forced to pay if it had gone to trial and lost would have been $20,000. "All the defendants would pay in similar amounts to a fund that would fund a symposium or seminar or event that would be produced in conjunction with PBS, and it would be televised, and the goal of it would be to explore the evils of corporate money in politics and why that is a bad thing."

Sears representatives balked at the offer. Not only was the dollar figure too high, but they believed that the resulting

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