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October 7, 2005
Did Earle Break The Same Campaign Finance Law?

The Washington Times reports that Ronnie Earle may have broken the same laws on which he based the indictments of Tom DeLay and accepted campaign contributions from corporations. Stephen Dinan looked into Earle's campaign records after DeLay leveled the accusation yesterday and found evidence that Earle took money that violated state law, including union contributions:

Rep. Tom DeLay said District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who is prosecuting him for trying to involve corporate money in Texas politics, has taken such contributions himself.

"It's real interesting he has this crusade against corporate funds. He took corporate funds, and he's taken union funds, for his own re-election. That's against the law," Mr. DeLay told The Washington Times yesterday.

A review of Mr. Earle's campaign-finance filings in Texas shows that he has received contributions from the AFL-CIO, including a $250 donation on Aug. 29, 2000. He also has received contributions listed on the disclosure forms only as coming from the name of an incorporated entity, often a law firm.

Mr. Earle has said repeatedly that state law bars corporate and union contributions. Attempts to reach Mr. Earle yesterday for comment, including a phone message left on his assistant's voice mail detailing Mr. DeLay's charge, were unsuccessful.

Uh-oh. Earle's crusade against DeLay looks less and less like the lone gunslinger taking on government corruption than it resembles a grandstanding practitioner of it slowly unraveling under national scrutiny. Earle first got an indictment that failed to allege any criminal act, then miraculously got a second indictment from a second grand jury for money-laundering ... except that it was a third grand jury, who coughed up an indictment on it first day of existence, after the second one refused to issue any indictments at all.

While the "everyone does it" defense may not play well as a legal defense, it does matter in the political arena. Having a highly partisan DA go after a member of the opposition for illegal campaign contributions while he took them himself to get elected will not win the Democrats much support; in fact, it makes the whole exercise look venal and corrupt, using fake indictments to reverse the results of a fair election. That analysis only firms up when people consider the shotgun approach that the Democrats have taken against DeLay, attacking him for nepotism, travel paperwork, and any issue that comes to mind -- and then discovering every single time that their own members conduct themselves in the same manner or worse.

The Democrats will find that DeLay season has just about concluded, but the hunting of Earle will continue. Texans will want to know how much of Earle's efforts really came from his own initiative, or whether Earle's grand-jury shopping for indictments came from a coordinated national campaign to smear DeLay. That might result in a conspiracy indictment for Earle, one which could have more basis in law than the pathetic indictment he first tried to pass off.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 7, 2005 5:35 AM

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» Open, uninhibited partisan hackery from hubs and spokes
This whole DeLay thing keeps getting funnier and funnier: While the “everyone does it” defense may not play well as a legal defense, it does matter in the political arena. Having a highly partisan DA go after a member... [Read More]

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» Sauce for the goose, Mr. Saavik. from
Well, our good buddy Ronnie Earle, up in Austin, may have just shot himself in the foot big time. First he gets a pair of hightly touted (by the MSM) indictments, that not only could not stand the blinding glare of public scrutiny, they couldn’... [Read More]

Tracked on October 7, 2005 4:05 PM

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» The second DeLay indictment from Resonant Information
On Monday, Tom DeLay was issued a second indictment (PDF copy courtesy of the Jurist), this time for money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering (the first was for conspiracy to circumvent Texas campaign finance laws). The maximum penalty [Read More]

Tracked on October 8, 2005 3:31 PM

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