A fellow blogger asked me why I thought the charges against Tom Delay were flimsy. So here it goes. I'm sure we have all heard the phrase that prosecutors could indict a ham sandwich if they wanted to. Well the indictments of Tom Delay would fit that description.
First of all we need to look at the prosecutor Ronnie Earle. He is in Travis County which is the last remaining liberal stronghold in the state. As Rush says "All roads lead to Travis County". What he means by that is Bill Burkett (the source for Dan Rather's false documents) is from there and so is Dan Rather's daughter and many other liberals that still live in Texas. Twenty years ago Ronnie Earle started indicting his political enemies. At that time there were no Republicans so he went after conservative Democrats. He continued after the conservative Democrats became Republicans and not too long ago went after Kay Bailey Hutchinson. There was no evidence to support the charges so they were eventually dropped but in the meantime Hutchinson's name was drug through the mud. Here are some comments from an editorial published in the Wall Street Journal on September 29th of this year:
"The Majority Leader also deserves the presumption of innocence because of Mr. Earle's guilty past. A liberal Democrat, he has a history of indicting political enemies, Democrat and Republican, on flimsy evidence that didn't hold up in court. In the mid-1980s, he indicted Attorney General Jim Mattox, a rival of his ally Ann Richards, on bribery charges. Mr. Mattox was acquitted and won re-election.
In 1993, he indicted Kay Bailey Hutchison, who'd just been elected to the U.S. Senate, on charges of misconduct and records tampering. Mr. Earle was forced to drop the case even before it went to trial. Earlier this year, the prosecutor delivered a widely criticized speech at a Democratic fund-raiser in which he compared his prosecutorial targets to "Mussolini and his fascists" and all but declared that he had Mr. DeLay in his sights."
Ronnie Earle has also been involved in corporate shakedowns (like our buddy Jesse Jackson). He gets ready to indict some corporations but says I won't indict if you give to my favorite charity or organization. Here are some comments regarding this from Byron York of National Review:
"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."
So we see that Ronnie Earle is a liberal democrat who seems to have a habit of going after his political enemies. Now lets look at the actual indictments. The first indictment was on criminal conspiracy charges which are easy to charge but hard to prove. Then it turned out the law that Delay was accused of violating wasn't passed until 2003 a year after he supposedly had broke it. So since that indictment wasn't going to work Earle went "Grand Jury Shopping" again. He had taken the charges to numerous grand juries before getting the first indictment so now he was scrambling to get another one.
The second indictment was for money laundering. The essence of what both indictments are about is that in Texas corporations aren't allowed to give directly to political campaigns. But they can give money for administrative expenses for political committees. The charges are that the Texas PAC took money from corporations and sent the excess money after expenses to the RNC. Then the RNC sent money back to the PAC for certain State House seats. None of this is illegal unless the RNC specified where this money was to go. So far there is no evidence of this.
The Republicans are running ads in Texas that Earle is making it a crime to be a conservative. I think that nails it on the head. Delay has been very successful in helping Republicans win and since the Democrats can't win at the ballot box they are resorting to the criminalization of politics.