In closing arguments earlier this afternoon, Rusty Hardin, Miles' attorney, said leading members of Houston's African-American business community orchestrated a campaign to unseat Miles and ruin his insurance business by lying about what happened.
"These people, who had an incredible motive to lie, did in fact, lie to you," said Hardin, Miles' attorney. "What's happening here is a disgrace."
Prosecutors said that believing all of the witnesses conspired is ridiculous.
"Do you think all of these people want to come down here and talk about this?" Assistant District Attorney Jon Stephenson asked jurors.
"Of course not. It's ridiculous."
I imagine that if the Austin-based Third Court of Appeals had a Christmas party this year, it was an awkward affair.
The 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin, split along partisan lines, has ruled that Republican Justice Alan Waldrop did not have to excuse himself from a case against two associates of former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land.
The ruling does not immediately affect the money-laundering charges against DeLay and his associates, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis. But the justices question one another's motives in how the polarizing case has been handled by the appellate court.
In August, Justices Waldrop, [Kenneth] Law and Robert Pemberton, all Republicans, upheld the constitutionality of the money-laundering statute but added that they did not think that the law in 2002 covered checks. The $190,000 in the DeLay case involved corporate checks, not cash.
That ruling prompted a firestorm. Prosecutors argued that the three-judge panel had gone beyond the legal question before it. Earle spoke of "the dark shadow of corruption" looming over the case as he filed a motion asking Waldrop to withdraw or be dropped from the case. His complaint was that before Waldrop became a justice, he helped a group of DeLay's political allies, Texans for Lawsuit Reform, stay out of a lawsuit arising from the same circumstances as the criminal case.
Waldrop characterized the lawsuit as "politically motivated."
Two Democratic justices on the 3rd Court objected.
Justice Diane Henson complained that her GOP colleagues were wrong about the money-laundering law and had bottled up the case for years to thwart prosecution of the high-profile case.
Justice Jan Patterson accused Law of ignoring her dissent when the 3rd Court ruled earlier this year on Waldrop's standing in the case. She also questioned why the two men's constitutional challenges were combined into one case and assigned to an all-Republican panel of justices to consider. Previously one man's challenge was assigned to an all-GOP panel and the other case was being handled by a panel containing one Democrat.
On Wednesday, the Republican majority struck back in an opinion written by Justice David Puryear. Law and Pemberton joined in Puryear's opinion.
ACR has the scoop. It's kind of amazing to me that after all this time, there's still a lot of unfinished business surrounding the now-defunct DeLay empire. At what point will we get resolution, and DeLay get what's coming to him, whether it's redemption or a prison sentence? Heck if I know.
Rep. Al Green has settled a nasty-looking dispute with a former employee.
U.S. Rep. Al Green has withdrawn a lawsuit he filed in September asking a federal judge to find that he never discriminated against an ex-employee.
Green's attorney, Ben Hall, asked last week that the case be dismissed because Lucinda Daniels, without payment or promise of money, signed a written agreement dismissing and releasing all claims against Green.
Lawyers for the two sides released the following joint statement Monday: "Congressman Alexander Green and Lucinda Daniels have both resolved and settled their respective disputes without payment, promise or receipt of any money. They regret any circumstances that created this dispute. They do not wish to pursue any litigation against each other. And, they wish each other well."
Last week it was reported that Craddick D Rep. Kino Flores of Palmview was being investigated by both the state of Texas and the feds.
The investigation initially involved whether Flores illegally accepted a gift when he traveled at least three times between Austin and McAllen on a plane owned by the LaMantia family, which owns a Budweiser distributorship in South Texas and is developing a $23 million horse racetrack in Hidalgo County.
The investigation now has expanded into whether Flores charged the state for the trips, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
Flores is chairman of the House committee that oversees gambling legislation.
His attorney, Roy Minton of Austin, confirmed his client is under investigation.
"The district attorney's office is investigating how Kino paid for his travel expenses, which I believe was a proper way for such expenses to be paid," Minton said. He also said he was aware that an FBI agent had been asking questions.
District Attorney Ronnie Earle's approach to some cases involving ethics violations -- most prominently, that of former speaker Gib Lewis -- has been to offer the public official who is under fire the choice of resign your seat or face prosecution. Normally, the troubles of an individual legislator would not have much impact on the course of Texas politics. But Flores's situation has arisen in the context of a speaker's race. Today, November 13, is exactly two months prior to the formal vote on Tom Craddick's future. Flores is one of a dwindling number of Craddick D's. It is by no means certain that he will be around to take the oath of office on January 13.
Again, we won't really know what's possible until all the anti-Craddicks unite behind one candidate. In a perverse way, if Linda Harper-Brown holds onto her seat in HD 105 after the recount, thus allowing the Republicans to maintain a 76-74 majority in the House, that may help winnow the field of wannabes, as the Democrats would likely concede to a Republican alternative. Obviiously, there's a zillion ways this could all play out. But so far, the likely paths seem to lead away from Craddick and not towards him. We can only hope.
By the way, Texas Monthly asked a bunch of Speaker candidates to explain why they should be the next Speaker, and they got some good results, so go check 'em out. I remain a Senfronia Thompson fan, but man, Scott Hochberg is a tough act to follow. Go read his answer and see what I mean.
Well, this puts an end to one aspect of the whole Tom DeLay saga.
The state's largest business organization pleaded guilty today to violating campaign finance law six years after helping elect a slate of Republican lawmakers.
The Texas Association of Business pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge, unlawful direct campaign expenditure, and paid a $10,000 fine.
Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle claimed victory for the people of Texas, but the settlement was a setback for Earle, who had pursued felony charges of unlawful political contributions by a corporation.
Those charges were dropped today with an agreement that they can be re-filed if the association violates the law in the next year.
Tuesday's settlement involved the last of the criminal charges against the Texas Association of Business in a six-year investigation by Travis County prosecutors.
Earle accused the trade association, which is a corporation, of making illegal corporate donations to its own political action committee by paying the salaries of two employees as they traveled the state, appearing at fundraisers and other events, urging voters to support the state GOP candidates, speaking to the news media on behalf of the candidates and consulting on strategy. Those two employees were association president Bill Hammond and the association's lobbyist, Jack Campbell.
State law generally prohibits the spending of corporate money in connection with a campaign.
"I now recognize that while working as a salaried employee of the Texas Association of Business, it was a violation of the law to expressly advocate for the election of these candidates," Hammond told reporters today. "I take full responsibility for my actions. I apologize to the voters of Texas and to the members of the Texas Association of Business."
Earle said the facts supported a felony but that he's pleased with today's agreement. The punishment for a felony would have been a $20,000 fine.
"The difference between $10,000 and $20,000 when you factor in the cost of the trial ... was simply not worth the cost-benefit analysis," Earle said.
Turner said the felony charge was "the line in the desert" that the association wasn't willing to cross.
"There's no way in the world we felt like they were responsible for a felony conviction in this case," Turner said.
This just sounds ugly.
U.S. Rep. Al Green asked a federal judge Friday to find that he never discriminated against an ex-employee he claims is trying to shake him down for $1.8 million.
The employee's lawyer countered that Green forced the woman to have sex and filed the lawsuit because he doesn't want to pay for his misdeeds.
Although Green and the former employee had a "romantic encounter'' at her home in May 2007, Bill Miller, a spokesman for the congressman, said the claim of sexual assault, coming 18 months after the fact, is desperate and totally false.
Green's lawsuit alleges that Lucinda Daniels, the former director of Green's Houston office, has threatened to sue him for workplace discrimination if he doesn't pay up. Green says the woman voluntarily resigned three months ago. Green also alleges the woman is a drug user who accidentally taped a conversation onto his voicemail while buying cocaine.
"He was being extorted. A deadline was given of today,'' said Ben Hall, attorney for Green, a Democrat elected to Congress in 2004. "It's a pure shakedown. If she has a case, the place to do it is at the courthouse.''
Lawyer Chip Lewis, who represents Daniels, said she had been hoping to spare herself the embarrassment of going public and going to the police about the May 2007 incident. But Lewis said she will now make a sexual assault complaint and file a civil lawsuit against Green.
Lewis said it was Green's lawyer, Hall, who asked to negotiate a settlement. But Hall denies that and, through political consultant Miller, says he can prove it was Daniels who approached Green for money.
Last month, the Third Court of Appeals ruled against an appeal by John Colyandro and Jim Ellis that would have negated their money laundering indictments in the TRMPAC/Tom DeLay case. In doing so, the court provided validation for the defendants' notorious "checks aren't cash" defense, a move that was strongly disputed by other justices on the court. Now Texans for Public Justice has filed complaints against one of those justices, saying he has violated state campaign finance laws.
Texans for Public Justice filed a pair of complaints with Travis County Attorney David Escamilla and the Texas Ethics Commission today alleging that Third Court of Appeals Chief Justice W. Kenneth Law repeatedly violated the Texas Election Code in the course of his current reelection campaign. The alleged violations include illegally collecting more than $66,000 in political contributions without a duly appointed campaign treasurer and taking $10,000 from GOP Swift-Boat activist Harold Simmons--twice what the state Judicial Campaign Fairness Act permits.
Two of the alleged violations are misdemeanors that carry criminal penalties and fall under the jurisdiction of Travis County Attorney David Escamilla. The other four alleged violations are subject to civil penalties levied by the Texas Ethics Commission. If the agency upholds these violations, Judge Law could face civil fines totaling more than $235,000.
I confess, I lose track of these things.
State District Judge Mike Lynch on Wednesday tentatively ordered a trial for the Texas Association of Business on charges that it made illegal corporate contributions to its own political action committee.
In effect, the state's largest business organization is accused of paying its officers with corporate dollars while they were politicking for a slate of legislative candidates in 2002.
The defense argued that the group's actions were protected free speech, while prosecutors claim the association violated the state ban on spending corporate money in connection with campaigns.
Jack Abramoff, the epicenter of Republican scandals from the Tom DeLay era, got his sentence today.
Jack Abramoff, the disgraced former lobbyist who orchestrated a wide-ranging scheme to corrupt several members of Congress, was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday afternoon.
Judge Ellen Huvelle ordered Abramoff to serve an additional 48 months on top of the two years he has already served for a separate case. She also ordered him to pay restitution in the amount of $15 million.
Abramoff has been cooperating with prosecutors while serving almost two years in jail for his prosecution in another case involving wire fraud and the purchase of Florida casino cruise ships. The Justice Department investigation and prosecution landed former Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) in jail and helped end the careers of several other members of Congress, including former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas).
Huvelle said she is not concerned that Abramoff did not learn his lesson and might turn back to a life of crime. Her 48-month sentence was motivated by a desire to promote "respect for the law."
"This conduct spanned many years, going back to 1997," she said. "There was not just one victim, there were a series of victims. I feel the true victims are members of the public who lost their trust in government."
I have reactions from Michael Skelly and Rep. Nick Lampson beneath the fold. Click on to read them.
Only Republican judges think checks aren't cash
Interview with Cris Feldman
Will the checks clear DeLay?
Another loss in court for DeLay's cronies
Update on Vo's apartments
How not to register a complaint
Hey, didn't you used to be Tom DeLay?
An Abramoff update
Eliot and Chuck
Shelley staffers cleared of sabotage charges
Is today the day Chuck testifies about the deleted emails?
The circus is coming to town
Where the DeLay case stands now
More on AG Abbott's entry into the Rosenthal saga
AG Abbott comes calling
Emmett calls for investigation of Rosenthal
Judge Emmett speaks
The case that started it all
Oh, those emails: Day 2
Oh, those emails
Why am I not surprised he'd be a slapper?
Still waiting for DeLay's day in court
Earle prepares for trial
CCA denies motion for rehearing
Feds subpoena Buckham payroll records
TAB indictment thrown out again
Corporations dropped from TAB lawsuit
In the matter of Corwin Teltschik
Feds knew about TYC, took no action
Reconsidering the motion to reconsider
Amicus brief filed to CCA on behalf of Earle request
Earle asks CCA to reconsider
Aiyer takes a plea
The reasoning behind the CCA's decision on DeLay
CCA upholds DeLay
Felony charge filed against Jay Aiyer
Feds keep circling around Tom DeLay
TYC update: Downsizing the wrong way
Alabama-Coushatta settle with Abramoff
Is that all there is?
TYC: Indictments handed down on Brookins and Hernandez
TYC: Reynolds' removal sought
TYC: Kimbrough now conservator
TYC: On reviewing sentences
The BlackBerry Defense
TYC: Reform bills to come tomorrow
With former friends like these...
TYC: Alfonso Royal and email retention
TYC superintendant arrested
TYC: Another "correction" from Perry's office
Richie to Cornyn: Recuse yourself
No indictments in TYC cases yet
All that needs to be said about Tom DeLay's comeback tour
TYC: What did Perry's people know?
The do-nothing prosecutor
TYC: You can't quit just yet
The TYC "czar"
Tom DeLay's book
TYC: The feds may get involved
Bye-bye, TYC board
Today's TYC roundup
It all comes back to redistricting
A recent history of the TYC
TYC update: Hiring felons, and AG indifference
It's not just the youth facilities
Texas Ranger testimony on TYC
Guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty
The cronyism never stops
Rent to own, Lege-style
Arguments before the CCA in the DeLay case
CCA will hear final DeLay appeals today