02 Jul 2006

Good-bye, Earle

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A Texas judge threw out the most important of Activist Prosecutor Ronnie Earle’s indictments against the Texas Association of Business, targeted (along with Tom Delay and his Texans for a Republican Majority) for the alleged crime of interfering with the election of democrats.

A state district judge dealt a crippling blow Thursday to the nearly four-year prosecution of the Texas Association of Business, throwing out a felony indictment against the state’s largest business organization.

District Judge Mike Lynch ruled that 2002 pre-election ads produced by the group did not expressly advocate the election or defeat of Texas legislative candidates. Travis County prosecutors had said the group broke state election law by using corporate money to support candidates.

Lynch’s ruling put in doubt two other similar indictments pending against the organization by also discounting prosecutors’ alternative theory that the ads became illegal when the association coordinated them with other political groups. Lynch called the prosecutors’ argument “innovative” but concluded that state law does not cover it…

Lynch concluded that the ads did not expressly advocate the election or defeat of candidates under the Texas Election Code, which he called “an archaic, cumbersome, confusing, poorly written document in need of serious legislative overhaul.”

The judge wrote that the prosecution’s legal theory on coordination between political groups is a “convoluted maze” that would not give a defendant adequate warning about what they are charged with.

Lynch noted that Earle eloquently argued that the association unfairly attempted to subvert the electoral process. But citing the deficiencies of the indictment and state law, he concluded:

“You simply cannot make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear.”

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court upheld the right of the Republican legislature to redraw (all but one of) Texas’s Congressional voting district lines in the GOP’s favor.

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