The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

28 September 2005

Putting the Hammer down

"I have done nothing wrong," said Tom DeLay after receiving word that he was being indicted on a charge of criminal conspiracy. (Like there's a chance he'd say something else.)

DeLay, it's always seemed to me, has skated as close to the edge of the legal ice as he possibly could for as long as he possibly could; I don't know what the grand jury, or prosecutor Ronnie Earle, may have on DeLay, but at this point I'd be extremely surprised if it were absolutely nothing.

The indictment requires DeLay to step down from his position as House Majority Leader, which he has. He will retain his seat, representing the 22nd District of Texas.

The GOP over the years has tried their best to insulate DeLay, and the party's Congressional delegation today rallied around him, but unless this charge proves to be utterly baseless, he's pretty much done for as a Republican leader.

Posted at 4:31 PM to Political Science Fiction

The county that indicted DeLay is also the one whence the fake Killian memos came, so I wouldn't be terribly surprised if the indictment did prove to be utterly baseless.

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at 4:51 PM on 28 September 2005

It's possible. DeLay called it "politically motivated," but what in 21st-century America isn't politically motivated?

If it does prove to be bogus, rather a lot of Democrats will owe him an apology for this "culture of corruption" business, and I'll be close to the head of the line. But if they've got the goods on him, good riddance.

Posted by: CGHill at 5:29 PM on 28 September 2005

hmmm... well I was in the Marine Corps the same as Lee Harvey Oswald but I think most folks would doubt my complicity in the Kennedy assasination. Ima bettin ole Tommy Boy got himself a peck a trouble the old fashioned way ... he went looking for it and didnt think he'd get caught. Just my opinion of course :)

Posted by: ron at 5:31 PM on 28 September 2005

Tom's problem is that he thinks everything that any Democrat does is "politically motivated," unless it happens to be what he wants done. A brief reminder:

While Earle is an elected Democrat, as Media Matters for America has previously noted, a March 17* editorial in the Houston Chronicle commended his work: "During his long tenure, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has prosecuted many more Democratic officials than Republicans. The record does not support allegations that Earle is prone to partisan witch hunts." This assertion supports Earle's own claim about his record; a March 6 article in the El Paso Times reported: "Earle says local prosecution is fundamental and points out that 11 of the 15 politicians he has prosecuted over the years were Democrats."

The only evidence anyone has offered that the DeLay investigation is "partisan" is that Earle is a registered Democrat. By this logic, only Republicans can honestly investigate Republicans - but as we were told over and over in the 1990s, only Republicans can honestly investigate Democrats, too, because the Democrats will cover for each other.

Funny how that works out for them.

That said, DeLay is innocent until proven guilty. It is not the indictment that required him to step down as House Majority Leader, it is the GOP's own rules - put in place in 1995 after taking the leadership. One point of their winning "Contract With America," after the quaint House Post Office scandal, was that they wouldn't let their people stay in leadership roles if they were charged with criminal offenses. You may recall they tried to back out of this rule in January when it became clearer that DeLay might face such charges, but had to double-back and put it back in place due to public outcry.

The spin from reliable GOP sources like David Brooks, though, seems to indicate that the party is dumping DeLay, and even if he's cleared, he's done. The White House never got along with him, the fiscal conservatives were losing faith in him, and so on. It seems like DeLay's only chance is getting the indictment dismissed - even an acquittal at trial is probably it for his political career, they're saying.

I wouldn't bet on that. Marion Barry came back.

Posted by: Matt at 5:41 PM on 28 September 2005

BTW, see here for a list of Earle's eight biggest corruption targets.

Six of them, including a Texas Supreme Court Justice, Texas State Treasurer, Texas State Attorney General, and Democratic Speaker of the Texas House, were Democrats.

Posted by: Matt at 5:52 PM on 28 September 2005

I read over the indictment — it's up at The Smoking Gun — and there's less there than meets the eye.

Posted by: CGHill at 8:10 PM on 28 September 2005

It doesn't take much to be guilty of conspiracy - just to have planned a criminal act with other people who then took overt action to further it.

Posted by: Matt at 8:29 PM on 28 September 2005