My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


A Clinic On Handling A Scandal

Tom Delay--in case you've been in a cave all day--was indicted today for violations of Texas campaign finance laws. This has forced him to step down from his post as House Majority Leader (in accordance with House GOP rules). Here's Delay's reaction:

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.

Delay then followed up this statement with a live press conference. And then, just to be sure, he appears on the set of FoxNews unannounced in the last ten minutes of Brit Hume's show for a live interview.

This is not behavior of a man who has anything to hide. On the other hand, his approach is doing a great deal to draw attention to the actions, both past and present, of Ronnie Earle, the DA who asked for this indictment. At the very least, the quick read on this has to be a bit suspect, especially given the vagueness of the indictment and the anrcane nature of campaign finance laws to begin with.

Like the Hutchinson endictment of 1994, I would hope and expect that a judge will look at this indictment and file it in the round drawer pretty quickly.

Also, I hope the White House is watching this--their PR game has been WEAK for the last several months, and their response to scandal and criticism has been late and wishy-washy. It's time for the WH to get its act together and respond to its critics the way Delay--and, to a lesser degree, Sen. Bill Frist--has responded: quickly, forcefully, and unequivocally.

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