Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has indicted House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in connection with the same campaign finance investigation that Earle has been conducting for a long time. Earle is a notorious Democratic Party hack whom we’ve written about before.
DeLay has issued the following statement:
These charges have no basis in the facts or the law. This is just another example of Ronnie Earle misusing his office for partisan vendettas. Despite the clearly political agenda of this prosecutor, Congressman DeLay has cooperated with officials throughout the entire process. Even in the last two weeks, Ronnie Earle himself had acknowledged publicly that Mr. DeLay was not a target of his investigation. However, as with many of Ronnie Earle’s previous partisan investigations, Ronnie Earle refused to let the facts or the law get in the way of his partisan desire to indict a political foe.
This purely political investigation has been marked by illegal grand jury leaks, a fundraising speech by Ronnie Earle for Texas Democrats that inappropriately focused on the investigation, misuse of his office for partisan purposes, and extortion of money for Earle’s pet projects from corporations in exchange for dismissing indictments he brought against them. Ronnie Earle’s previous misuse of his office has resulted in failed prosecutions and we trust his partisan grandstanding will strike out again, as it should.
Ronnie Earle’s 1994 indictment against Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison was quickly dismissed and his charges in the 1980s against former Attorney General Jim Mattox-another political foe of Earle-fell apart at trial.
We regret the people of Texas will once again have their taxpayer dollars wasted on Ronnie Earle’s pursuit of headlines and political paybacks. Ronnie Earle began this investigation in 2002, after the Democrat Party lost the Texas state legislature to Republicans. For three years and through numerous grand juries, Ronnie Earle has tried to manufacture charges against Republicans involved in winning those elections using arcane statutes never before utilized in a case in the state. This indictment is nothing more than prosecutorial retribution by a partisan Democrat.
Well put. DeLay has also announced that he will temporarily step aside as Majority Leader, pursuant to the House Republican rules.
Via Power Line News.
UPDATE: Here is how DeLay began his press conference this morning:
Good morning. Thank you for attending.
This morning, in an act of blatant political partisanship, a rogue district attorney in Travis County, Texas named Ronnie Earle charged me with one count of criminal conspiracy, a reckless charge wholly unsupported by the facts. This is one of the weakest, most baseless indictments in American history.
It is a sham, and Mr. Earle knows it. It is a charge that can not hold up even under the most glancing scrutiny. This act is the product of a coordinated, pre-meditated campaign of political retribution, the all-too-predictable result of a vengeful investigation led by a partisan fanatic.
Mr. Earle is abusing the power of his office to exact personal revenge for the role I played in the Texas Republican legislative campaign in 2002 and my advocacy for a new, fair, and constitutional congressional map for our state in 2003. As it turned out, those efforts were successful. Texas Republicans did indeed win a legislative majority. A fair and representative congressional map was drawn and approved by the legislature. And the Texas Congressional delegation now, after the 2004 elections, fairly represents the values and attitudes of the state.
Over the course of this long and bitter political battle, it became clear that the retribution for our success would be ferocious. Today, that retribution is being exacted.
Mr. Earle, an unabashed partisan zealot with a well-documented history of launching baseless investigations and indictments against his political enemies, has been targeting a political action committee on whose advisory board I once served. During his investigation, he has gone out of his way to give several media interviews in his office – the only days he actually comes to the office, I’m told – in which he has singled me out for personal attacks, in direct violation of his public responsibility to conduct an impartial inquiry.
Despite his long-standing animosity toward me – and the abusive investigation that animosity has unfortunately rendered – as recently as two weeks ago, Mr. Earle himself publicly admitted I had never been a focus or target of his inquiry.
Soon thereafter, Mr. Earle’s hometown newspaper ran a biting editorial about his investigation, rhetorically asking what the point had been, after all, if I wasn’t to be indicted. It was this renewed political pressure in the waning days of his hollow investigation that led this morning’s action.
In accordance with the rules of the House Republican Conference, I will temporarily step aside as floor leader in order to win exoneration from these baseless charges.
Let me be very, very clear. I have done nothing wrong. I have violated no law, no regulation, no rule of the House. I have done nothing unlawful, unethical, or, I might add, unprecedented even in the political campaigns of Mr. Earle himself.
My defense in this case will not be technical or legalistic: it will be categorical and absolute. I am innocent. Mr. Earle and his staff know it. And I will prove it.
Here in Washington, there is work – hard, hard work – ahead of our conference. We have a war to win, a region to rebuild, a budget to balance, taxes to cut, a government to reform, and a nation to lead.
In coming weeks, the House is committed to major legislation reforming our border security and immigration laws, alleviating the rising costs of gasoline and heating fuel before the winter, and saving tens of billions of dollars through reforming federal entitlement programs. My job right now is to serve my constituents and our nation in support of this ambitious and needed agenda.
As for the charges, I have the facts, the law, and the Truth on my side – just as I have against every false allegation my opponents have flung at me over the years. Once exposed to the light of objective scrutiny, every one of their frivolous accusations against me has been dismissed, and so will Mr. Earle’s.
Thank you very much for this opportunity to speak with you today.
The Bush administration should take a lesson from DeLay’s aggressive self-defense.
UPDATE: You can read the indictment here. It is pathetic. The only time it mentions DeLay’s name is when it alleges that he agreed to toll the statute of limitations! The indictment contains no suggestion of what he supposedly did that was illegal.
Michelle Malkin has lots of coverage. Among other things, she watched Ronnie Earle’s press conference and reports that he was unable to articulate a case against Delay:
Someone asks about the vagueness of the DeLay indictment. Q: What role did DeLay actually play? Earle has no concrete answer. Q: What is the proof DeLay conspired? Again, no concrete answer.
The Democratic Party is committed to the view that there is no such thing as going too far. To date, they’ve done reasonably well with that approach. But they may be pushing their luck this tiime; God help them if the press ever stops covering for them.