Earle's attendance and remarks attacking DeLay at a Democratic fund-raiser last week in Dallas damaged the credibility of his investigation with a stunning display of prosecutorial impropriety.
In his speech, the prosecutor talked about the corporate contribution case and took a swipe at DeLay. "This case is not just about Tom DeLay," Earle told the crowd. "If it isn't this Tom DeLay, it'll be another one, just like one bully replaces the one before."
Contacted after the event by the Chronicle's Michael Hedges, Earle didn't back off his comments. He provided a transcript of the speech, and said he would make the same statements again to any group that was interested in honest government.
No, I don't think he should have attended this fundraiser, and no, I don't think he should have spoken to them, regardless of how well-worn the content of his speech is. But no, I also don't think he did anything wrong in any meaningful sense. Read what he said for yourself and come to your own conclusions.
Oh, and by the way:
An interim federal audit of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's principal fund-raising committee has found that the group engaged in some inappropriate accounting of receipts and expenditures, prompting it to revise all campaign reports for 2001 and 2002, according to a knowledgeable government official and public records.
For the first time, the revised filings also listed as short-term debts some items listed as expenditures.
One example is a postponed $5,732.90 payment in 2002 for food and drinks at a fund-raiser held by DeLay at a resort in Puerto Rico owned by contributor Charles Hurwitz.
FEC regulations require that all such debts be reported promptly to ensure a public accounting of sums that amount to short-term gifts and loans, even if the debts are eventually paid.
The revised filings also for the first time list a debt of $121,456 from ARMPAC's regulated campaign account to a separate ARMPAC account that took in unregulated donations in those years.
Jan Baran, a Republican lawyer who specializes in campaign law, said the listing of this debt means that ARMPAC improperly used unregulated campaign contributions to finance certain expenses during those years.
Unregulated contributions are those donated directly by corporations, unions or other wealthy donors, often in excess of the limits imposed on contributions to regulated funds.
The use of unregulated contributions by federal lawmakers was prohibited by a campaign finance law enacted in 2002.