StoutDemBlog

Political And Other Miscellany From A Stout Democrat In Dallas Texas.
"Politics is the only game for adults." --from Robert A. Heinlein's Double Star

Friday, February 11, 2005

DELAY'S LAW: If you haven't been following this story of the Exterminator's latest (and gratingist) power grab, this email gives the details from DRIVE DEMOCRACY ORG, which has been watching it closely:
Yesterday a GOP legislator, State Rep.Mary Denny, (R--Aubrey) chairwoman of the House Elections Committee filed a bill that would give the state's Ethics Commission -- appointed and funded by legislators who could be investigated -- veto power over prosecutors seeking to enforce the state's election law.

GOP lawmakers don't want to be held accountable to the law. So they are considering legislation which would, in effect, grant them perpetual immunity from prosecution. This bill should be called the "We're Above the Law" act. Please contact Rep. Denny and House Speaker Tom Craddick and tell them to withdraw HB 913. Let them know that no Texan, especially an elected official, should be above the law. Enter these URLs in your browser to send an email to Denny:
http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/email.php?dist=63&rep=mary.denny
And to email Craddick:
http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/email.php?dist=82&rep=tom.craddick
or contact their offices:
Rep. Denny (512)463-0688 (512)463-0658 Fax
Speaker Craddick (512) 463-1000 (512) 463-7722 Fax

The bill is being filed in direct response to an investigation of the 2002 campaigns that has already resulted in three indicted corporations settling with prosecutors and eight other indictments. And yes, Rep. Denny has received money from both organizations under investigation -- Tom DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority PAC (TRMPAC) and the Texas Association of Businesses (TAB).

A spokesperson for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association told the Austin American-Statesman, "It seems to keep prosecutors from prosecuting crimes." Ronnie Earle, the Travis County District Attorny heading up the TRMPAC investigation said: "This is the ultimate above-the-law bill. We can't have one law for politicians and another for everybody else. This is a slap in the face of the public."

The Ethics Commission is appointed by state officials and is notoriously gutless. In its fourteen years of existence it has never subpoenaed a witness or any documents to investigate a complaint or referred a criminal case. The Ethics Commission is the very definition of a toothless watchdog!

Please let Denny and Craddick know that you don't appreciate politicians trying to place themselves above-the-law and after you've contacted their offices please come to the blog and post a comment so we'll know how they are responding:
http://www.drivedemocracy.org/blog/index.php?p=205

Thank you
Nathan Wilcox, DriveDemocracy.org
Here's more, from the Austin paper, which I repeat here because it is notorious for changing links to old stories LIKE THIS ONE:
Republican wants to give state agency power over election code prosecutions
Bill would give ethics commission veto in local prosecutions.

By Laylan Copelin
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Wednesday, February 09, 2005

A member of Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick's leadership team wants to give the Texas Ethics Commission veto power over local prosecutors' prosecution of crimes under the election code.

Rep. Mary Denny, R–Aubrey, chairwoman of the House Elections Committee, would create an office under the state commission to conduct election code violation investigations such as Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle's two-year investigation of the Texas Association of Business, Texans for a Republican Majority and Craddick.

House Bill 913 would prohibit a prosecutor from pursuing charges if the state office determines there is no criminal offense.

Shannon Edmonds with the Texas District and County Attorneys Association said the group is taking a wait-and-see attitude on the legislation but added, "It seems to keep prosecutors from prosecuting crimes."

Denny and Earle were not available for comment early Wednesday afternoon.

But a critic of the bill, Craig McDonald with Texans for Public Justice, said the Ethics Commission, appointed by state officials and split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, is not known for taking action against officials.

"I think it's incumbent politicians circling the wagons to protect themselves from prosecution," McDonald said. "It puts a roadblock in the way of local prosecutors, who should have a free hand in prosecuting violations of the law."

The Ethics Commission, created in 1991, has civil authority over election code violations and can refer criminal complaints to prosecutors. The agency, however, has never subpoenaed a witness or documents to investigate a complaint or referred a criminal case.

Immediately after the 2002 legislative elections Earle began investigating the use of corporate money by the state's largest business organization and Texans for a Republican Majority, created by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, in several crucial state House races.

State law prohibits corporate or union money from being spent on political campaigns.

A Travis County grand jury indicted three of DeLay's associates in September. The investigation is continuing.

Craddick has been pulled into the fray because of his role with Texans for a Republican Majority.

A special law bars outside groups from offering help to a speaker's candidate, and the candidate is prohibited from accepting that outside help.

Craddick first denied being involved with the group because he was running for speaker of the Texas House. But legal documents in recent months have shown that Craddick raised money for the group, had his staff distribute it to Republican candidates who supported him and consulted with the political action committee's associates about their activities.

Texans for a Republican Majority and the Texas Association of Business helped Denny in her 2002 election, particularly in a contested Republican primary.
The only good thing you can say about the mind-boggling over-reaching of Delay is that historically such extremes start twisting the minds of their perpetrators so that they even assault their own puppets for fancied slights, and resentment begins to build up until their own bring them down like a house of cards. The example of "deep throat" in Watergate is only one of the most famous instances.

This is the meaning of Acton's saying about the corruption of power. It rots away even at the common sense of those it seduces, until they bring their own mansions of malice down on their heads. And Delay is so gross that the underground rebellion is growing every day. I predict that when he falls (within two years), the public and press will get the taste of blood in their mouths and go on to take down Cheney next. Of course Bush will pardon Delay and Cheney, but that will only incite his impeachment. I think it will begin in 2007.

But then I'm an optimist. Right now, email, call, and write these two abettors of abuses, and all the media you can as well, to ring the alarm bell about this attempted exemption from the rule of law.

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