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Indicted for fraud, Rep. DeLay tells press, "I'm innocent."

Update 9.29.05: Prosecutor Earle has sued more Democrats, the WSJ reports. See the bottom of this post. - LS

Among these many reports on Tom Delay, the majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, who has been indicted for violating Texas election laws in September 2002, is a transcript of his remarks to the press. In the link, DeLay cracks a few jokes and then lays into his accuser:

"This morning, in an act of blatant political partisanship, a rogue district attorney in Travis County, Texas, named Ronnie Earle charged me with one count of criminal conspiracy: a reckless charge wholly unsupported by the facts.

"This is one of the weakest, most baseless indictments in American history. It's a sham and Mr. Earle knows it.

"It's a charge that cannot hold up even under the most glancing scrutiny."

The charge did, however, hold up under the scrutiny of a grand jury in Texas. You can read their indictment of DeLay for yourself here, (hat-tip: Orin Kerr) to learn why this $190,000 check is pictured:

Delay

The New York Times (linked in the lede) reports that DeLay is being forced to step down temporarily. California congressman David Dreir, who heads the Rules Committee, will fill in.

Predictably, the political blogosphere has exploded in response, with righty bloggers taking up the offensive that DeLay's own script sounds. Witness Powerline, where blogger John says the Bush administration "should take a lesson" from DeLay's "aggressive" public self-defense. Meanwhile, lefty bloggers are gyrating with happiness:  California blogger Chris Nolan goes all Jennifer Beale on us with "Oh what a feeling." Search for yourself here.

It's law and politics. Which is why, having given the first word to Mr. Delay, I'll give the closer to Washington Monthly blogger Kevin Drum, who invokes Election 2006 (and, by default, 2008) as well as an official investigation of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's recent stock sale. Drum writes:

"All we need now is a Plame indictment and we'd have the trifecta. Or the pentecta. Or whatever. I can barely keep track of the myriad ethical problems besetting the Republican leadership these days."

"I've long been of the opinion that although Democrats are obviously in trouble these days, it's still the case that they're losing elections by only a few points -- and even a moderate change in the political climate could turn that around. Well, this is it. If Democrats still can't win in 2006, then we've got serious problems."

What do you think?

Update 9.29.05 - Today's Wall Street Journal report (registration or T-Mobile account required) states that Prosecutor Ronnie Earle has sued more Democrats than Republicans. Reporters Jackie Calmes and Anne Marie Squeo write:

"From hard experience, Mr. Earle was ready for that blast [from DeLay's press conference, cited above]. In his own news conference in Austin shortly before Mr. DeLay's, Mr. Earle noted he has prosecuted 15 elected officials during his career, and 12 were Democrats. That reflects Democrats' long hold on power in Texas into the 1990s. Now, however, Texas Democrats don't hold a single statewide office.

"As Mr. Earle put it yesterday, "We prosecute abuses of power, and you have to have power before you can abuse it."

"When Mr. Earle, a former Democratic member of the Texas House of Representatives, won election to the Travis County D.A.'s office in 1976, Texas was still a mostly one-party southern Democratic state. So his anticorruption efforts inevitably focused on Democrats, which made him plenty of enemies in his own party."

Posted by Laurel Newby on September 28, 2005 at 05:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

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