March 16, 2004
More TRMPAC noise

In response to some Republican whinging, Travis County DA Ronnie Earle released a bunch of documents on Friday related to his grand jury investigation of TAB and TRM.

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle on Friday denied accusations that he is running a partisan investigation into possible illegal campaign spending by two Republican organizations.

"This investigation is not about Democrats and Republicans. It's about cops and robbers," said Earle, a Democrat. "This is an investigation of a crime."


Earle on Friday released hundreds of pages of documents sought by Texas Republican Chairwoman Tina Benkiser in an open records request. Benkiser had said the records would show how much money Earle "is wasting on a frivolous investigation and whether he is unfairly leaking information to the media."

Benkiser spokesman Ted Royer said Earle's records release was "inadequate" because it did not give a full explanation for how much the investigation is costing taxpayers.

"We are disappointed that Mr. Earle has refused to provide all the information we requested, and his lack of candor raises questions about what he may be attempting to cover up," Royer said. "Taxpayers deserve to know how much of their money Mr. Earle is wasting on this frivolous and partisan investigation."

The majority of the records were telephone call slips requesting interviews with Earle or responses from him on news conferences held by the Texas Association of Business or by DeLay. There also were copies of news releases Earle has put out at key junctures in the investigation.

The records gave no evidence that Earle gave the news media any grand jury documents that were not public court papers available in the district clerk's office.

In one instance, an Austin print journalist gave Earle a rough draft of a story and asked him to check it for errors. In another, an Austin television journalist provided Earle with public documents that might be helpful to his investigation.

"We don't leak grand jury information. We never have, and I don't know of any reputable reporter who would expect us to," Earle said.

But Royer said the journalists' records indicated Earle is working with the media to run a public relations campaign.

"The revelation that Mr. Earle is so closely coordinating the publication of negative newspaper articles about Republicans only reinforces the belief that the primary purpose of his investigation is to unfairly hang Republicans in the media," Royer said.

Cry me a river, Ted. I'll wait to see what the grand jury says, thankyouverymuch.

Missed this on Saturday, but it's recapped in the Congress Daily from

Meanwhile, the Austin American-Statesman reported on Saturday that [Terry Scarborough, an attorney for TRMPAC] had threatened that Washington-based Jim Ellis -- who has been executive director since late 1998 of DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority PAC and helped to organize TRMPAC -would fight efforts to force him to testify in the civil lawsuit.

Given the prior non-success of Andy Taylor and his efforts to prevent TAB members from testifying, I expect we'll be hearing from Mr. Ellis sooner or later. Speaking of Taylor, he did a little public whining in response to an earlier op-ed by Fred Lewis.

There have been a lot of strange twists in this saga, but this one is the strangest I've seen yet.

TAB and TRMPAC have questioned the motives of defeated Democrats filing suit and one attorney's tactics.

An attorney for TAB states in a court filing that an attorney for defeated Democrats tried to recruit two defeated Libertarians to his lawsuit. A footnote states, "It appears the crime of barratry may have been committed," referring to the questionable practice of lawyers soliciting business without cause.

Candidates Rob LeGrand and Michael Badnarik said in affidavits the unsolicited lawyer called them and then sent the lawsuit.

Professor Geary Reamey of St. Mary's University School of Law said suggesting barratry in court is inappropriate unless an attorney has filed a grievance with the State Bar of Texas or complained to a district attorney.

Cris Feldman, the lawyer under fire, said he faces no grievance.

Feldman, denying wrongdoing, said foes "are doing everything possible to divert attention from their clandestine laundering of corporate cash."

Jeez. Maybe if procedure had been followed, there'd be a case against Mr. Feldman. In its absence, I'll accept his explanation that this is just more intimidation.

Finally, the Chron reports on Ben Streusand's connection to the TRMPAC case, something which was noted here a little while ago. What, like I'm surprised that everyone is in everyone else's pockets?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 16, 2004 to Scandalized! | TrackBack