Earle loses appeal of DeLay dismissal

AP/Washington Post:

The criminal case against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay now hinges on two money laundering charges after Texas' highest criminal court refused Wednesday to bring back a conspiracy charge.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled 5-4 against reinstating a count of conspiracy to violate the state's election code.

The former congressman resigned last year amid allegations that he violated campaign finance laws to funnel $190,000 in corporate contributions to Republicans in the state's 2002 legislative elections.

A state district judge threw out the conspiracy charge in December 2005 after defense lawyers argued that the law DeLay was accused of violating didn't take effect until 2003. A regional appeals court upheld the judge's decision.

Two charges _ money laundering and conspiring to launder money _ remain against the former congressman.

DeLay said Wednesday's ruling brought him "thankfully closer" to a resolution of the charges and repeated his longstanding contention that the prosecution is politically motivated.

"What (Travis County prosecutor) Ronnie Earle accomplished is no rookie error. It's a political attack using our legal system as the primary weapon," DeLay said in a statement issued from Virginia, where he now lives.

"The damage he has done to my family and my career cannot be rectified, but the courts have recognized a significant portion of the injustice and ruled accordingly," he said.

Earle released a statement Wednesday saying he will ask the court for a rehearing on the quashed conspiracy charge.


Earle knows that he has no evidence to tie DeLay to the remaining charges and that his only hope was through the conspiracy count. The court should dismiss his motion for a rehearing promptly and force Earle to go to trial or dismiss the remainder of the case.

This has been a bogus prosecution from the beginning. It is part of the Democrats criminalization of political differences. Earle has been accused of similar abuses in the past, in particular his prosecution of Kay Baily Hutchison. The sooner Earle is no longer in office the better Texas politics will be.


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