A Democrat named Michael Wuflestad sent us the following email:
Help, I searched your site, NRO’s, Hewitt’s, Joe Carter’s (the evangelical outpost) for at least the lock-step GOP spin on DeLay’s pardon-the-pun “pardon” in burying the Rostenkowski’s indictment rules. The silence is deafening. I did, though, read portions of the “cheaten democrats” article posted on your site and was intrigued by the premise: “key Democrat leaders now regard issues and rules not as serious things in themselves, but as playthings to be manipulated almost without limit for political purposes…” I guess “character counts” only so far…
We haven’t said anything about the change in House rules to allow leaders to stay in their posts in the event that they are indicted; the reason is that we haven’t been especially interested in the subject. But here is what is going on. Ronnie Earle, the Democratic District Attorney in Travis County, Texas, is a notorious partisan who has a history of bringing politically-motivated indictments. His most infamous indictment was when he charged Kay Bailey Hutchison, then the Treasurer of Texas, with assault. Earle actually took this trumped-up case to trial, only to be humiliated when he had to dismisss the case during trial.
In September, Earle indicted three aides to Tom DeLay, accusing them of financial improprieties in connection with the Texas legislative elections in 2002. Earle alleges that the aides engaged in “money laundering.” What happened is that a number of corporations, including Sears, made contributions to the Republican National Committee. The RNC made contributions to Republican legislative candidates, which corporations are not permitted to do.
That’s it. That’s the purported “crime.” Needless to say, these sorts of contributions are made constantly by both parties. Earle’s charges are ludicrous, and were made (less than two months before the election) for the sole purpose of embarrassing Delay. The charges will be dismissed and will soon be forgotten.
It is entirely reasonable to believe, however, that in the meantime, Earle may also indict the Majority Leader. It would be an outrageous injustice for a single, politically-motivated district attorney to dictate who is eligible to serve in a leadership position in the House of Representatives. Thus, the rule change is wise and appropriate.
We had a similar situation in Minnesota, when a partisan county attorney indicted the Chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party, our friend Ron Eibensteiner. The charge was a similar campaign finance allegation. It was a silly charge, and in due course it was dismissed. But, just as the Democrats are now reaping a public relations bonanza from their charges against Delay’s aides and the threat to indict Delay himself, Democrats in Minnesota tried to discredit Ron through their phony indictment.
The practice of procuring politically-motivated indictments is another sad aspect of today’s degraded political scene. The House of Representatives is to be commended for putting the Democrats on notice that the House will not be intimidated by the Democrats’ repellent tactics.
Basic information about the Travis County indictments is here.
OUR READERS WEIGH IN: Lee Herrera writes:
Ronnie Earle once even indicted himself (of a misdemeanor) as a political subterfuge. This guy is a crazy political Democratic hack.
Douglas Athas writes:
I was listening to NPR yesterday. I was very upset when the reporter, Andrea Seabrook, handled the Republican rule change story without any depth, not even a hint of the partisan hacks that Ronnie Earle has practiced many times and the real basis for the Republican house members going on the defensive.
But I was most upset by Nanci Pelosi being given a sound bite that the Republicans were