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Friday, February 11, 2005

Tom Delay's Got it Rigged

Texas Legislature in session

You gotta give it up for Tom DeLay. He really knows how to cover his bases.

Not everyone has the clout to be rebuked three times by the bi-partisan House Ethics Committee and then get the Republican Chairman, Joel Hefley, removed because of his support for those rebukes. But that's what has happened this week, as we predicted it would earlier this year. While he was at it, Delay went for broke and had his marionette Denny Hastert appoint two new members to the panel whose political action committees have contributed to DeLay's legal defense fund in the past.

We take great comfort in knowing these dedicated public servants will uphold the fine tradition of Republican ethics in congress.

Poor Tom has also recently been traveling under a nasty cloud in the form of an investigation by Texas district attorney Ronnie Earle into his habit of indulging in illegal campaign contributions. He managed, however, to get Republicans in Congress to revoke their ethics rule that would force him to step down as Majority Leader if indicted.

But as of today it looks like he may have found a way to beat the rap all together. According to the LA Times:
A bill filed this week by a veteran state GOP lawmaker would give the Texas Ethics Commission — whose members were appointed by the three top elected officials in the state, all Republicans — the power to quash the prosecution of a politician.

Critics call it a brazen attempt to protect GOP leaders who might become entangled in an ongoing criminal investigation into whether illegal fundraising paved the party's rise to power in the state...

State Rep. Mary Denny, who filed the bill, said in an interview Thursday that she was attempting to add oversight, not remove it. She said it never occurred to her that the legislation could be used to protect Republican leaders who might become targets of the fundraising investigation.
"Never occurred to her" that this might have any relevance to DeLay? Why don't these people explode in flaming balls of fire?
The bill would create an investigative arm of the Ethics Commission, which would be authorized to conduct investigations into alleged criminal conduct under the state Election Code.

But the bill doesn't stop there.

It also says that a district attorney, including the one in Austin who is overseeing the fundraising investigation, would be prohibited from continuing such an inquiry if the Ethics Commission did not agree that charges were warranted. Denny said she believed district attorneys would welcome input from people who specialized in election law.
Yeah, because they just love it when legislators trump their authority to decide who to prosecute and when to do it. I'm betting Ronnie Earle and the grand juries who have spent two years investigating whether DeLay illegally financed the campaigns of 22 Republican House candidates in 2002 are are just clicking their heels that the case will be yanked out of their hands and they won't have to worry their pretty little heads about it any more.

Does someone out there have a copy of the Republican spin manual that says "lie lie lie outrageously at all times?" 'Cos I'm increasingly convinced it must exist.