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September 28, 2005

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Al

Garance at TAPPED was on the case with the RawStory link right away, as Jonah Goldberg noted at the Corner.

CJ Roberts

DELAY [Mark R. Levin]
Here's my first take on this indictment (I've only read the indictment and nothing more for now): The indictment is three pages in length. Other than a statement that "one or more" of 3 individuals, including Tom DeLay, entered into an illegal conspiracy, I can't find a single sentence tying Tom DeLay to a crime. That is, there's not a single sentence tying DeLay to the contribution. The indictment describes the alleged conduct of two other individuals, but nothing about DeLay. You would think if Ronnie Earle had even a thin reed of testimony linking DeLay to the contribution, it would have been noted in the indictment to justify the grand jury's action. Moreover, not only is there no information about DeLay committing acts in furtherance of a conspiracy, there's no information about DeLay entering into a conspiracy. I honestly believe that unless there's more, this is an egregious abuse of prosecutorial power. It's a disgrace. I understand that not everything has to be contained in an indictment, but how about something!
Posted at 01:58 PM

http://corner.nationalreview.com/05_09_25_corner-archive.asp#077787

kim

The prosecutor has a duty to see that justice is done. Is this prosecutor derelict?
====================================

kim

The prosecutor has a duty to see that justice is done. Is this prosecutor derelict?
====================================

kim

The prosecutor has a duty to see that justice is done. Is this prosecutor derelict? Any recourse for derelict prosecutors?
====================================

Geek, Esq.

Remember, DeLay and Abramoff are thick as thieves, so to speak.

steve sturm

Even though I am no DeLay fan, fair play dictates that he not be ousted on the basis of the criminal justice equivalent of vaporware... so here is my suggested defensive strategy for DeLay and the GOP as a whole...

Brainster

The "evidence" that Dreier is gay apparently consists of the fact that he was living with his chief of staff, who was well-paid. I remember reading a few months ago (can't find the article) that a couple senators are sharing a house in Washington DC; no doubt they are flamers as well?

And the reason they are comfortable "exposing" Dreier is because he doesn't support the right legislation. RAW Story and BlogActive are not reputable sources.

kim

Once again, even if, no one cares but the ones most hypocritical about homophobia.
================================================

kim

It's been a bad season for the MSM. Phony attack on Rove, followed by phony attacks on Bush, Frist, and now DeLay. The count is 0-4. That means you can walk backwards to the dugout, draggin' your stick in the dirt.
=======================================

Jeff

It's sort of fun and depressing to watch the VRWC in action. I bet by the end of the day Mark Levin's view from the Corner, dutifully circulated here by CJ Roberts, will be Known Fact. Trouble is, it's importantly incorrect and uninformed. For a little more, check this from someone who appears to be one of yours.

As for Dreier, I'm a little confused as to what your point is, Brainster? That Dreier is not gay, or that "exposing" him (as you put it) is wrong, or it's false? Let me put it this way. If and when it turns out that Dreier is not going to be the next Majority Leader (or quickly steps down), as I predict, it will not be because of the "they" you refer to. It will be because Dreier is, for some reason, unacceptable to Dobson and his ilk. But it won't be because he is against amending the Constitution to define marriage or because of his position on stem cells or whatever.

Whaddya know, I look over at the Corner, and it turns out between the time I started this post and am now finishing it, it's Blunt, not Dreier. Surprise surprise.

TexasToast

Mr. Earle had nothing when he went after Kay Bailey Hutchison; let's see if history repeats (Keep hope alive!)

Sorry Tom. Earle had lots on Kay - the case was decided by a trial judge who refused to admit the critical evidence.

kim

If the judge improperly refused admission of evidence, isn't that a procedural error? What did the appelate court say?
=============================================

TexasToast

In 1993, Hutchison and her team of attorney's - led by Dick DeGuerin, the $700-an-hour hotshot criminal lawyer and defender of Branch Dividian David Koresh - were fighting charges that she had abused her office as state treasurer. The evidence portrayed Hutchison as a termagant who verbally and physically abused her staff, including testimony that while in a tirade, she hit executive assistant Sharon Connally Ammann, the daughter of former governor John Connally, on the shoulder with a notebook binder. Another deputy had been Warren Idsal, the son-in-law of Hutchison's best friend and mentor, legendary ultra-right-wing Texan and Nixon adviser Anne Armstrong. She fired Idsal and later cited his removal as a threat to a frustrated staffer of her tough approach to personnel management. The evidence also showed she ordered a purge of backup computer tapes containing personal and political documents her executive staff produced for her. Conviction for the Nixon-like charges would have ruined her politically. Hutchison claimed the chief prosecutor, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, was part of a sinister conspiracy against her.

She was acquitted in February 1994, when Earle declined to proceed with the case. The jury selection had gone badly for Earle. Jurors were exposed to news media which was pressured, according to former Fort Worth Star-Telegram capitol reporter Joe Cutberth, to slant coverage in Hutchison's favor. Her own press secretary Dave Beckwith (former Dan Quayle spokesman), and Republican consultant Karl Rove (former Hutchison campaign manager and later top handler to George W. Bush) were heavily quoted spinning the tale of a politically motivated prosecutor. Finally, presiding judge John Onion refused to make a pretrial ruling on whether he would allow the incriminating tapes into evidence. Stripped of the certainty of using key evidence, the prosecution dropped the charges in the hope of starting over later before a less restrictive judge. Judge Onion outmaneuvered Earle, however. He swore in a jury and immediately ordered them to acquit Hutchison. She then proclaimed the forced verdict proof of her innocence.

Gary Maxwell

What did the appelate court say?

why not a thing. Mr Earle did not bother to appeal his pathetic case. It was not the only time he has failed to bring in a convinction of a political enemy. He is a hack from Travis County where we last found Dan Rather's daughter running around histerically. This one will be in the trash can in no time. Three page indictment? No crime mentioned by Delay. Indicted for conspiracy and conspiracy only. I hear Texastoast was involved in the conspiracy too.

TexasToast

Gary Maxwell

The state appeal a criminal acquittal?

Come again?

kim

Hey, I hear there's a fella out there name of Burkett that's handy about rummaging around in trash cans.

Let's rodeo.
=============================================

kim

Alright TT, we'll take two steps backwards in the hope of making some progress. Do you think the judge acted improperly by refusing to rule on the admissability of Earle's evidence? If not do you think he acted improperly to empanel a jury? If not do you think the jury acted improperly? If not, where's your beef?

Inside that tall hat maybe?
=============================

Abdul Al Zarpana Banana Popana

Earle got thrown out of court on his ear in the Hutchison case. You don't have to be a Pub to be appalled at Earle corrupting the criminal justice system to go after his political enemies. He's so tainted he's a joke.

Is this case any different? We'll see, but I'm not placing any bets on that twerp DA from Travis County, that's for sure.

As far as Dreier, I remember reading somewhere a while back that he'd been outed as gay, then hearing nothing more. Gay or not he'd be fine with me.

TexasToast

John Onion is a heck of a legal mind. He was Chief Justice of the texas court of criminal Appeals for many years. He was appointed as a visiting judge on the case and knew exactly how to kill the thing off in a manner in which no appeal was possible. The jury was ordered to find for the defendent because no evidence was before them. Not only did the case end, but double jeopardy prevented its revival.

Ronnie Earle was outlawyered by the judge.

kim

And what was the evidence at the preliminary hearing?

And what is the evidence in this case?
=========================================

Brainster

"As for Dreier, I'm a little confused as to what your point is, Brainster? That Dreier is not gay, or that "exposing" him (as you put it) is wrong, or it's false?"

The point is that the "evidence" that Dreier is gay consists of an interview with a former political opponent who said that Dreier had shared living quarters with his chief of staff. Read the linked articles and you will find that is the ONLY "evidence" presented.

Maybe he's gay, maybe he's not; I couldn't care less. But I for damn sure wouldn't be quoting Mike Rogers and Raw Story.

Gary Maxwell

John Onion ran as a Democrat. Judges in Texas are elected and run on partisan tickets.

Gary Maxwell

Ronnie Earle seems to get outlawyered by a lot of people. Probably some kind of conspiracy.

TexasToast

John Onion ran as a Democrat. Judges in Texas are elected and run on partisan tickets.

Back in the day, everybody in Texas ran as a Democrat. Now, everybody in Texas runs as a Republican.

Same people - different party label. Yawn.

Gary Maxwell

The yawn ahould be on our end for listening to you. You imply the judge who you admit was Democrat did a big favor for a Hutchison a Republican. Seems like a DA who can fink his butt with two hands and a flashlight. Yawn.

Jeff

Brainster -- Unfortunately, it appears that Rawstory et al are reliable enough sources for the Dobsonites.

kim

Conspiracy to do what, where?

Thanks to JunkYardBlog.
=============================

SteveMG

Earle sounds like more of a crusader than a partisan, although the two can often merge. Clearly, he wants to get Delay, an understandable target since Delay represents many of the worst aspects of money in politics. Whether those aspects cross legal lines remains to be seen.

Seems to me that Earle's indictment has very little substance. Admittedly, my knowledge of Texas campaign laws surpasses my understanding of Bulgarian gay folk music. Although it's a close race.

Earle's got somewhat (hah, how's that for a qualifier?) of a jaundiced view of corporations, as one can see here:

http://www.drivedemocracy.org/blog/index.php?p=274

especially their financial support for candidates or elected officials.

Curious however, that his concern with money in politics stops at the corporate headquarters. Obviously, money has a corrupting effect in a democracy; but the money can come from other interest groups as well as businesses.

Delay has always tiptoed along campaign finance laws, it seems to me. His ruthless style was a poor match for a leadership position. Best role for him was as a enforcer, much like hockey teams need goons to prevent the other teams from beating up on their star players.

If he's gone, I won't miss him.

SMG

deona

I've been reading the MSM and some liberal blogs, and watching CNN today to see how they handle the unreported (except subtly) fact that HOUSE rules do not dictate that a member who is indicted must step down from a leadership posision; it is a REPUBLICAN party rule. Once you notice it, you can see the obvious way they all dance around the facts, so as to minimize the the possibility that the public will realize that the DEMOCRATS have NO such rule. (Why, that might make Republicans look to be honest, honorable, and moral individuals, compared to the squeaky-clean Democrats)

deona

An example, from the Austin American-Statesman article on the Delay indictment:
An indictment does not force DeLay to resign as a member of Congress, but the GOP's rules demand that he resign his post as majority leader as he fights the charges. Congressional Republicans earlier tried to drop that requirement, citing Earle's investigation as a political vendetta, but they ultimately maintained the rule after withering criticism.

Would not a reasonably objective reporter, if he decided to include the part about withering criticism, have balanced the statement by stating that no such rule has EVER existed for the Democrats in Congress?

Assholes.

Crank

I question the timing!

J.R. Brown

Ronnie Earle argues that Tom DeLay conspired to make a contribution to a political party in violation of the Texas Election Code. There was no contribution to a political party in violation of the Texas Election Code. There was no conspiracy. Ronnie Earle is wrong on the facts. Ronnie Earle is wrong on the law.

According to the indictment, the conspiracy was to unlawfully make a political contribution of corporate funds to a political party within 60 days of an election.

The Texas Election Code clearly states that "A corporation or labor organization may not knowingly make a contribution [to a political party] during a period beginning on the 60th day before the date of a general election for state and county officers and continuing through the day of the election." Title 15, Texas Election Code, § 253.104. Texas law also states in part that "A person commits criminal conspiracy if, with intent that a felony be committed: (1) he agrees with one or more persons that they or one or more of them engage in conduct that would constitute the offense; and (2) he or one or more of them performs an overt act in pursuance of the agreement."

The Problems with Earle's case:

In an effort to contrive jurisdiction over DeLay, Earle charges that because Congressman DeLay may have known about the transaction before it occurred, he was then part of a conspiracy.

However, Earle's office has sworn testimony and other exculpatory evidence showing that Congressman DeLay did not have knowledge of the transaction.

In addition:

No corporation or labor organization was indicted in this conspiracy. Neither Jim Ellis nor John Colyandro is a corporation or labor organization.

No corporation or labor organization made a contribution during 60 days of an election.

What constitutes a contribution under the Texas Election Code is not strictly defined.

Neither the RNC nor RNSEC constitute a political party under Texas election law. They are considered PACs, just as the DNC is.

Corporations in Texas could have legally made contributions to the RNC or RNSEC during the period in question under Texas election law.

There was no violation of the Texas Election Code. There was no conspiracy. The underlying transaction was legal. Had corporations sent money directly to the RNC or RNSEC, the transaction would be legal. How could anyone conspire to do indirectly what could legally have been done directly?

Jim E.

JR Brown,

I haven't been following the particulars of this stuff, but I was under the impression that 8 corporations have already been indicted in relation to the DeLay stuff. I thought I heard that on CNN. Is this not the case?

Jim E.

"Corporations in Texas could have legally made contributions to the RNC or RNSEC during the period in question under Texas election law."

Maybe. But that's not the point of the indictment. DeLay and others are accused of taking soft-money (sent to the RNC) and ear-marking it for specific Texas candidates, which you're not supposed to do with soft money. As I understand it, the case is about money laundering, not the timing of the contributions.

The indictment, from what I've heard, does look quite shabby. Unless, that is, another indicted co-conspirator has been flipped against DeLay. In which case, the indictment makes more sense.

Jim E.

I just had the chance to read TM's so-called "takedown" of Media Matters. Let's see, they got a date wrong. Wow. Some takedown.

kim

A pervert of justice contra a pervert of money politics. I'd like to know if Earle ever gets anything right, and I'd like to know if DeLay is enriching himself or his surrogates with our dime.

I know Dave Wittig did.
========================

kim

And SJ, is the 'conspiracy' that Earle hears rattling around in his head actually just the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy bouncing off the walls. Even if someone says he directed the money, as you claim, where's the proof?

Maybe inside that ten gallon hat Earle wants us to think is white.
=====================================

boris

It was a "Conspiracy" to abide by campaign finance rules enacted by Democrats and flouted by them with impugnity.

Campaign Finance law is unconstitutional. Period.

J Mann

Tom, I don't think you're 100% right in your characterization of the Hutchison prosecution.

From what I've been able to find, Earle had enough evidence to prosecute, but threw his case away over a dumb tactical decision. He may well be a partisan hack, but Hutchison doesn't show it, and it's not really right to say that he brought a case without evidence. (In particular, he had three guys who swore under oath that she ordered computer backup tapes altered to remove evidence).

Full story here:

http://alittlereason.blogspot.com/2005/09/right-wings-wrong-about-ronnie-earle.html

boris

Perception: Democrats create a briar patch of vague interlocking regulations they have no intention to obey in order to throw up obstacles for Republicans who generally abide by law.

Reality: Democrats create a briar patch of vague interlocking regulations they have no intention to obey in order to throw up obstacles for Republicans who generally abide by law, and when they bend over backwards to comply they get charged with conspiracy to avoid prosecution.

Talentscout

Fine. Delay fights and Travis County puts up the proof. Fair trial, Earle has the goods, Delay gets convicted. Ronnie is lying and makin' it all up, FBI and U.S Attorney put a stop to his act. Fair is fair. Prosecutorial immunity only goes so far.

millco88

Doesn't it seem likely that the Dems in Texas had a similar sort of organization set up to stop what Delay was trying to do?? Wouldn't that be the sort of actual reporting someone should do rather than the "news analysis" that we've been getting?

Remember once the new Texas House was seated and redistricting on the table, the Dems' response was to literally leave the state to avoid a quorum. Was that really their first attempt to stop Delay? Does anyone actually think that??

David Walser

The indictment is an abuse of prosecutorial discretion for two reasons: First, we now know that the Democrats in Texas were doing the exact same thing Delay's Republicans are accused of doing. That is, the Texas Democrat Party sent the DNC a check and received a return check from the DNC in the same (or about the same) amount on the same day. If it was illegal for the Texas Republicans to do what Delay has been indicted for, it was also illegal for the Democrats. Since Earle (and his staff) are active in the Texas Democrat Party, it's impossible to believe he was unaware of what was the practice of his own party at the time. To indict your opponent for actions you countenance on the part of your friends is an abuse of discretion of the first order.

Second, while I generally hate the "everybody does it" excuse, it has a lot of merit here. To be guilty of criminal conspiracy, Delay and his team had to KNOW that what they were doing was illegal. Since no one had ever been prosecuted for these actions, the fact the Democrat Party was doing the same thing is evidence that it was NOT widely thought that these actions were illegal. (Else, what are we to assume, that the Democrats were knowingly doing something illegal?) When the law in an area is new and or murky, it's not proper to bring criminal charges before demonstrating through the civil process (by imposing a civil fine or sanction) that the underlying conduct is illegal. This properly puts everyone on notice that such games may bring criminal sanctions in the future. Again, Earle's failure to follow this time honored practice is an abuse of discretion.

TexasToast

David W

Your two "reasons" sould like one reason - everybody does it. Reminds me of the speeder trying to get out of a ticket by pointing out that everybody does it and the cop reminding him that his shotgun can only fire at one duck at a time - and he is the lucky duck today.

Its my understanding it was corporate soft mony being diverted by the check swaps that was illegal - check swapping is not per se illegal.

Campaign finance law has become a minefield - but the law is the law. Look for Governor Perry to pardon Delay a la Nixon.

TexasToast

A handy list of Delay quotations (stolen from some libers site you folks probably won't want to visit)

– I have had ethics charges filed starting in 1993
– Again in 1995
– A racketeering suit right after that
– Some more ethics charges right after that
– This has been going on for two years, multiple grand juries, and then they come out with an indictment
– [The grand jury] asked me to come in. … Basically what I showed them was, yes, it was my idea to set up this political action committee
– It was my idea to set up TRMPAC
– I got it all organized
– I and four other elected officials were on an advisory board [of TRMPAC]
– I went to five fundraisers
– They did use my name to raise money
– They told me about it later, and then they would tell me things are going well
– Jim Ellis … also runs my ARMPAC
– Jim Ellis would let me know how things were going because was interested in how things are going and how much money they were raising
– The point here is is Texas deserved a Republican House of Representatives. The way you got change that was to take the majority in the Texas House, and that was my goal. It was successful
– Ronnie Earle let my lawyers know last week that I was going to be indicted
– I have hired Dick DeGuerin, who is my lawyer, who is the same lawyer that taught Ronnie Earle a lesson

Will history repeat itself?

JayDee

Campaign finance law IS a minefield...mainly because politicians want to make sure they can get that corporate money while maintaining fictional independence.

What we need is a clean sweep that prevents ALL corporate financing of political campaigns. A good first step to shutting down K Street and returning the government of the United States to the American people.

Any takers?

David Walser

Texas Toast - The "everybody does it" excuse is related to both my reasons for believing that Earle abused his discretion, but (to my mind) the two reasons are different. It's one thing to tell someone who got a speeding ticket to quit complaining that others speed without getting caught. (The cops can't catch everyone.) It's another thing entirely if the cops ONLY pull over their political enemies for speeding. In this second case, the cops would be abusing their discretion. If, as the evidence seems to indicate, Earle let the Democrats pass on the same actions he's indicted Delay for, he's abused his discretion. Period.

My second reason for thinking Earle abused his discretion is also related to the everybody does it defense. Prosecutors rarely assert criminal penalties (where the law is unclear) for conduct that is within the established practices of an industry. First, ethical prosecutors establish their legal theory by imposing civil penalties. Once it has clearly been established that certain conduct is unlawful, only then do they bring criminal charges against those who continue to violate the law. Earle has not yet established that what the republicans and democrats were doing is a violation of the law. Under these circumstances it's hard to understand how Earle can have a good faith belief that anyone, including Delay, KNEW the practice to be illegal.


David Walser

On what the Democrats and Republicans were doing and whether is was a violation of the law:

Imagine you have two sources of funds, A and B. A funds may be used only for administration, B funds may be used for either administration or support of candidates. Suppose you have more A funds than you need for administration and that your national organization has a need for more A funds -- but it has available B funds. The national organization agrees to give you B funds if you will supply it with a like amount of A funds. Is it illegal for you to swap A for B under these circumstances?

The law is unclear on this point. Globally, A funds were only used for administration -- as permitted by law. On the other hand, your organization raised A funds and was rewarded with B funds by the national organization for those efforts. By raising A funds for the national organization, you were able to spend more on candidates than you could have if you had relied on your own donors. (On the other hand, the national organization could have funded the candidates directly if it had relied on ALL donors -- yours and theirs.) Since no "bad corporate money" was spent on candidates, it's unclear that this arrangement between the national and local organizations is a violation of the spirit, let alone the letter, of the law. All the arrangement did was create an incentive to raise money from all the legal sources in your state. The A money would stay with your organization locally to the extent needed. The rest would go to the national organization. In the end, the practice allowed each party to use their available A and B funds as efficiently as possible.

TexasToast

David W

First, Ronnie Earle is a equal opportunity prosecutor – he has charged more Democrats then Republicans with crimes in his career – so it can hardly be said the he is a cop pulling over only his political enemies.

Second, there has already been a civil suit regarding the TRMPAC laundering and a civil court judge appointed by Bill Clements {R} awarded five democratic candidates civil damages based on the amounts included in the check swaps. So the fact that the swapping occurred as a fact seems to been resolved, and the fact that it violated Texas law also seems to have been determined in the affirmative. This from the ">http://www.mollyivins.com/showArticle.asp?ArticleID=2017"> Texas Observer .

It is hardly an abuse of discretion “period” to make judgments as a prosecutor as to which cases have enough evidence to pursue a conviction . If it were, every prosecutor in this country would be subject to such a charge.

Harry Arthur

What we need is a clean sweep that prevents ALL corporate financing of political campaigns.

JD, problem is that once we wade into the minefield with campaign finance laws we inevitably favor one party over another. I'll sign up for your proposed restriction if we also ban all union money and all 527 money.

Isn't it ironic that George Soros was a huge supporter of campaign finance? See what I mean.

I'm inclined to eliminate all restrictions on contributions with the proviso that every contribution be instantly posted on the internet for all to see, including oponents. Then make whatever case to the voters about who's supporting whom.

Another problem with campaign finance is that we've restricted advocacy groups from speaking within, what is it - 60(?) days of an election but "allow" news organizations to "advocate" all they want. Not a real level playing field. Sometimes the only way to be heard is to have enough money to buy the public access.

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