March 18, 2004
Your regular TRMPAC briefing

The state Republican Part continues its efforts to smear Travis County DA Ronnie Earle by claiming that he has a double standard because he didn't go after former Attorney General Dan Morales.

Earle said he did not investigate Morales because federal officials were doing it.

"The federal authorities did an outstanding job in that case, and it would have been inappropriate for me to intervene in their ongoing investigation," Earle said. "Justice was done."

Morales last year pleaded guilty to federal charges of mail fraud and filing a false income tax return in connection with his attempt to fraudulently secure $520 million in legal fees for a friend in the state's $17 billion tobacco lawsuit settlement.

You know, I admit to being as much a partisan in this squabble as anyone, but that sure seems like a reasonable explanation to me. It's not like Morales is off in the Caymans with a boatload of ill-gotten gains thumbing his nose at all of us. I don't recall ever hearing complaints that the feds were overstepping their jurisdiction in this case, at least not from Republicans. I also don't ever recall hearing any complaints from Republicans about who was or wasn't prosecuting Morales during the leadup to his guilty plea in federal court, or when he was working for and endorsing Governor Perry back in 2002. I guess it wasn't convenient back then.

I should note that then-Attorney General John Cornyn did some of the early heavy lifting in unravelling Morales' crimes. There was some speculation that Cornyn was dogged in pursuit of Morales because he was still seen as a potential threat to win an election for Governor or Senate in 2002. That Cornyn may have been motivated in part by partisan goals doesn't diminish the fact that he had a legitimate reason for his investigation. Given the facts of the TRM/TAB case that have come to light so far, I'd say the same is true of Ronnie Earle.

I've pointed to several overviews of the TRM/TAB investigation before, but I really recommend this one in the AusChron, which looks at the individual pieces and players and how they all fit together, rather than doing a chronological narrative. Your understanding of the subject will definitely be enhanced by it.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 18, 2004 to Scandalized! | TrackBack