Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The conservative buzz on DeLay

Here is talk show host and constitutional lawyer Mark Levin's take on today's indictment of Tom DeLay:

The "facts" in the indictment do not make a case for illegal contributions by the corporations because the indictment doesn't even allege that the corporate contributions were made within 60 days of an election. The essential argument is that a contribution was made to the RNC from a Texas PAC, which had received these corporate contributions (the dates of which we don't know), and certain candidates in Texas received money (presumably from the RNC), although not necessarily tracking with the corporate contributions to the PAC. If this sounds convoluted, it is. Based on this information, I see no illegal contribution, let alone no tie to Tom DeLay. I also note that none of the corporations that made contributions have been indicted. (And, by the way, the Texas conspiracy statute requires evidence that those charged actually intended to commit a crime. So, the bar for the government is significant.) The more I analyze this, the more outrageous this appears. I only hope the mainstream media will do a better job reporting on this than on Hurricane Katrina.

DOJ official Barbara Comstock in an email to Michelle Malkin details what she sees as problems with the prosecutor's case:

Ronnie Earle argues that Tom DeLay conspired to make a contribution to a political party in violation of the Texas Election Code. There was no contribution to a political party in violation of the Texas Election Code. There was no conspiracy. Ronnie Earle is wrong on the facts. Ronnie Earle is wrong on the law.

According to the indictment, the conspiracy was to unlawfully make a political contribution of corporate funds to a political party within 60 days of an election.

The Texas Election Code clearly states that "A corporation or labor organization may not knowingly make a contribution [to a political party] during a period beginning on the 60th day before the date of a general election for state and county officers and continuing through the day of the election." Title 15, Texas Election Code, ยง 253.104. Texas law also states in part that "A person commits criminal conspiracy if, with intent that a felony be committed: (1) he agrees with one or more persons that they or one or more of them engage in conduct that would constitute the offense; and (2) he or one or more of them performs an overt act in pursuance of the agreement."

The Problems with Earle's case:

In an effort to contrive jurisdiction over DeLay, Earle charges that because Congressman DeLay may have known about the transaction before it occurred, he was then part of a conspiracy.

However, Earle's office has sworn testimony and other exculpatory evidence showing that Congressman DeLay did not have knowledge of the transaction.

In addition:

No corporation or labor organization was indicted in this conspiracy. Neither Jim Ellis nor John Colyandro is a corporation or labor organization.

No corporation or labor organization made a contribution during 60 days of an election.

What constitutes a contribution under the Texas Election Code is not strictly defined.

Neither the RNC nor RNSEC constitute a political party under Texas election law. They are considered PACs, just as the DNC is.

Corporations in Texas could have legally made contributions to the RNC or RNSEC during the period in question under Texas election law.

There was no violation of the Texas Election Code. There was no conspiracy. The underlying transaction was legal. Had corporations sent money directly to the RNC or RNSEC, the transaction would be legal. How could anyone conspire to do indirectly what could legally have been done directly?

Conservative blogger Tacitus was not so kind:

"Conservative leaders across the country are working now to make sure that any politician who hopes to have conservative support in the future had better be in the forefront as we attack those who attack Tom DeLay."

-- Morton Blackwell, 31 March 2005

Good call, Morton. Now that the indictment of the erstwhile House Majority Leader is an accomplished fact, the wisdom of chaining the conservative movement to Tom DeLay is apparent even to the most fervent of the true believers. The fall of Tom DeLay is not merely a parable of hubris in one man: it is the tale of ego begetting ill-judgment in the conservative movement at large.

The pity is that Republicans who care more about their party than about the cult of personality attendant to its key figures have long warned of this day. We knew all along that Tom DeLay was a bully -- ask the Heritage Foundation about his penchant for petty grudges. We knew all along that he was, on a fundamental level, unprincipled -- ask him about the fat in the Federal budget. We knew all along that he was mostly interested in power for its own sake -- recall, please, that he sought a House rules change to protect his leadership position in this very circumstance. And we knew that if it came to an indictment, it would be the end.

Our task, then, was to make it the end for him, and not the Republican House majority or the conservative movement in power. In this, we failed. It is not a failure we were forced into: it is one we embraced, and hence one we deserve.

But still thinks the charges are bogus:

What of the charges against him? His antagonist, Ronnie Earle, is a Democratic hack and a dishonest prosecutor. The probability is that Tom DeLay will be acquitted of the single charge against him, and rightly so. On a legal level, he is almost certainly guilty of nothing more than a poor choice of friends. This, though, is politics: he's done. And being done, a man who truly has the best interests of conservatism at heart would have stepped down to save the movement he purported to love. Tom DeLay has not, and that tells us all we need to know about what he values most.

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