Monday, October 03, 2005

Why Does Ronnie Earle Have To "Fix" The Indictment Of Tom DeLay?

I saw some news about a new indictment of Tom DeLay right before I left work today. It seemed a little strange to have a new charge since they had waited so long to indict him in the first place. Once I got home, I wanted to see what was up with this and read the Statesman article, DeLay indicted on money-laundering charge. Here is the lead paragraph:
Travis County prosecutors rushed Monday to fix problems with an indictment against U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay by charging the Sugar Land Republican with the first-degree felony of money laundering.
Earle's been working on this for three years; it would seem he would have this down chapter and verse. So, what needed fixing?
Last week a Travis County grand jury ended its term by indicting DeLay on a charge that accused him of conspiring to violate state campaign finance laws. The problem with that indictment, according to DeLay's lawyers, was that the conspiracy law did not apply to the election code in 2002. The Texas Legislature changed the law, which went into effect Sept. 1, 2003.
At least it wasn't anything serious!! Holy sh--! The crime you indict the sitting Majority Leader of Congress for wasn't even against the law when it occurred? How in the world did this get by the DA's office?! Can this be corrected?
Prosecutors hoped to fix the problem by reindicting DeLay on charges that he conspired to launder corporate money into political donations. In 2002, the conspiracy law applied to money laundering.
Well, at least they got it fixed, right? Not exactly:
The new indictment is based on the same set of allegations.

State law generally prohibits corporate money being spent in connection with a campaign. DeLay's lawyers say there was nothing illegal about the transaction.

There also probably will be a fight over whether the three-year deadline for indicting DeLay has expired.

In a letter to Earle, [Dick] DeGuerin said DeLay is withdrawing his waiver of the statute of limitations to investigate him. Last month DeLay signed that waiver in an attempt to head off an indictment.

The date on the $190,000 check to the committee is Sept. 13, 2002. The committee checks cut to candidates were dated Oct. 4, 2002.
I hope this is wrong. If Tom DeLay gets off because of this, and with everyone's memory refreshed about how the case against KBH ended, then Ronnie Earle will start to look pretty bad.

[UPDATE]Hopefully this is all just dotting the i's and croossing the t's. This from the Houston Chronicle article on the new indictments, DeLay indicted on money laundering charge:
George Dix, a professor at the University of Texas law school who is an expert in criminal law and procedure, said he doesn't believe changes made to the Texas election code by the 2003 Legislature have any effect on the conspiracy charge.

The penal code's conspiracy charge allows for the charge if the defendants allegedly conspired to commit any felony, including an election code felony.

Dix called the re-indictment surprising and said it did appear that prosecutors may have been trying to avoid a potential legal problem with the original indictment.
I hope this is the case.


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