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Ronnie Earle: DeLay's Accuser

Wednesday, 28 September 2005 12:00 AM

Who really is Ronnie Earle?

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Tex, denounced the Travis County, Texas, prosecutor as nothing more than a "rogue district attorney."

He accused of Earle of using a conspiracy indictment to seek retribution for the 2002 election in which the Democrats lost control over the Texas Legislature.

"This act is the product of a coordinated, premeditated campaign of political retribution - the all-too-predictable result of a vengeful investigation led by a partisan fanatic," DeLay charged.

Indeed, DeLay and Earle go back a long way – and Earle has a demonstrated track record of political prosecutions, including some notable cases against high-ranking Republicans.

More than a year ago, Earle made it clear that his mission was to prosecute criminals and politicians.

"The two aren't mutually exclusive," he said at the time.

Earle's sharp-shooting prosecutorial crosshairs even include once filing misdemeanor charges against himself and settling up with a $200 fine after learning his own campaign had failed to file required contribution reports.

But the DeLay indictment is not for showboating. Earle clearly wants to sink the most powerful House Republican.

Earle's defenders point out that over his 27-year career, a seemingly indefatigable Earle has prosecuted no less than 12 Democratic officeholders and four Republicans. But DeLay defenders note Texas has only recently become a Republican stronghold and that the liberal prosecutor has even engaged at political prosecutions of fellow Democrats.

Perhaps the most telling case of Earle's political cases has been his 1994 legal attack on U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison - a Republican. Earle had her indicted on frivilous charges of allegedly misusing state telephones for political business.

At a pretrial hearing, the judge questioned the admissibility of the prosecution's evidence and Earle declined to present a case.

On the way to the current indictment, a succession of Earle-led grand juries over the last two years have examined more than $2 million in corporate money spent in 2002 to elect GOP legislative candidates, redrawing congressional boundaries to give DeLay an additional six Republicans in Congress.

Also along the way, Earle has indicted three DeLay lieutenants.

But recent press reports seem to ignore the fact that Earle, as part of the DeLay case, also has criminally indicted eight U.S. corporations, including Sears and Cracker Barrel, Bacardi USA, Westar Energy, Williams Companies, and several other companies.

At the time, Earle said he could prove "the outline of an effort to use corporate contributions to control representative democracy in Texas."

The companies, of course, denied wrongdoing.

But Earle later cleared the companies after demanding they make donations to charities he backed. Reportedly he sought as much as $1 million from Sears. In the end, Earle was said to have "persuaded" these companies to fork over six-figure donations in exchange for clearing them of wrongdoing.

Earle's history has not been lost on DeLay supporters.

"We saw what happened when he pulled a shenanigan like this against Kay Hutchison years ago. At the 11th hour, he just stood up and said, ‘It's a bogus indictment,'" said U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-Texas.

How long - if at all - will Earle wait to make the same claim this time regarding Tom DeLay?

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Who really is Ronnie Earle? House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Tex, denounced the Travis County, Texas, prosecutor as nothing more than a "rogue district attorney." He accused of Earle of using a conspiracy indictment to seek retribution for the 2002 election in which...
Ronnie,Earle:,DeLay's,Accuser
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2005-00-28
Wednesday, 28 September 2005 12:00 AM
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