Thursday, October 06, 2005

The one that got away

As has been previously reported, Travis County D.A. Ronnie Earle went before three grand juries in his case against Tom DeLay and managed to come away with two indictments. Now we learn from sources familiar with the proceedings that the prosecutor got a little hotheaded with that third grand jury after he didn't get his way:

WASHINGTON --A prosecutor tried to persuade a grand jury that Rep. Tom DeLay tacitly approved illegal use of campaign money and became angry when jurors decided against an indictment, according to two people directly familiar with the proceeding.

"The mood was unpleasant," one person said Wednesday, describing Travis County prosecutor Ronnie Earle's reaction.

The people familiar with the proceeding insisted on anonymity because of grand jury secrecy.

Earle presented evidence to three grand juries. Two of them returned indictments against DeLay, triggering a House Republican rule that forced the Texas Republican to step aside -- at least temporarily -- from his post as majority leader.

Both indictments focused on an alleged scheme to move money around to conceal the use of corporate contributions to support Texas Republican candidates. State law prohibits corporate donations to support or oppose state candidates -- allowing the money to only be used for administrative expenses.

Little was previously known about the grand jury that refused to indict DeLay, who has maintained his innocence and accused Earle -- a Democrat -- of bringing the prosecution to politically damage him. Earle has denied the allegation and pointed out he has indicted far more Democrats than Republicans.

One person said the sole evidence Earle presented to the grand jury that declined to indict was a DeLay interview with the prosecutor in August. DeLay reportedly said he was generally aware of activities of his associates.

The person said Earle tried to convince the jurors that if DeLay "didn't say, 'Stop it,' he gave his tacit approval."

Actually that was pretty lame, Ronnie. Just be happy with what you got.

Earle actually reminds me somewhat of Dan Rather in that he becomes blinded by his own zeal to bring down someone that he just knows is corrupt. For him the man's guilt is a predetermined matter and all that remains is the gathering of evidence... real or imagined.

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