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March 20th, 2006:

Another view of the SDEC meeting

Since John McConnell’s account of the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) meeting was made public, several SDEC members have sent out critical emails about it. The most detailed one came from the wonderfully named Zada True-Courage (wife of CD21 candidate John Courage). I’ve reproduced it beneath the fold, so click on and read.


Yates retrial delayed

Judge Belinda Hill has granted a defense motion to delay the start of Andrea Yates’ retrial until June 22 because two defense witnesses were not available until then.

Yates attorney George Parnham argued this morning before Hill that the witnesses — neuropsychologist George Ringholz and psychiatrist Lucy Puryear — would only be available for trial in 90 days.


After the hearing, prosecutor Alan Curry said the delay will not affect the government’s case against Yates and will allow prosecutors to further prepare for trial.

Seems pretty straightforward. At least now we can (hopefully!) have the Lay/Skilling trial in the rearview before this one starts.

On DeLay’s legal limbo

There are two things that you should take away from this story about Tom DeLay and his re-election campaign being in legal limbo as the Scandal-Go-Round turns. One:

Former DeLay spokesman Michael Scanlon, who was an Abramoff business partner, has pleaded guilty to fraud charges in the case, and a former DeLay deputy chief of staff, Tony Rudy, remains under intense scrutiny by prosecutors.


Documents released by federal prosecutors made it clear that Rudy has been in significant legal jeopardy. He is believed to be cooperating with federal officials, and sources close to the case said he is expected to reach a plea deal with the Justice Department. But details of those negotiations have not surfaced.

That’s one former staffer of DeLay’s who has pleaded guilty to felony charges, and another who is in the process of working out a plea agreement. Two actual felons – not just “under investigation”, not just “indicted”, but two people who worked for Tom DeLay who have pleaded or are about to plead guilty to felony criminal charges. And – this is the crucial part – neither one has anything to do with Ronnie Earle. Even if DeLay and his other three indicted associates win unequivocal victories in the TRMPAC cases, even if the most casual observer ultimately concludes that the whole thing was a political hack job from the get go, DeLay’s roster of former staffers will include two convicted felons.


The prosecutors’ documents depicted an unnamed congressional aide, separately identified as Rudy, improperly influencing congressional action on behalf of Abramoff’s Indian gaming clients. But there was no indication that DeLay was aware of Rudy’s activities.

What Rudy has said or will say to prosecutors about DeLay could prove pivotal in whether the lawmaker is cleared or gets pulled more directly into the federal investigation, said lawyers close to the case.

In court documents released in January, Rudy was described as “Staffer A,” who helped Abramoff stop legislation that would have hurt his clients. One bill opposed by Indian gaming interests would have banned Internet gambling; another, opposed by magazine publishers, would have raised postal rates.

In return, Abramoff funneled $50,000 to the political consulting firm of Rudy’s wife, Lisa, prosecutors said in court documents. The money was “obtained from (Abramoff’s) clients who would and did benefit from Staffer A’s official actions,” the prosecutors said. Rudy then left Congress to work directly for Abramoff.

[DeLay defense attorney Richard] Cullen said DeLay had no knowledge of any work by Rudy on behalf of Abramoff’s clients.

Carol Alvarado, the embattled former Mayor Pro Tem of Houston, has repeatedly said that the staffers from the Pro Tem office who authorized improper bonuses for themselves did so entirely without her knowledge. Many people, myself included, have said that she should have had a better handle on what was going on in her office. I say Tom DeLay should be held to that same standard as well. Whatever judgment is to be visited on Alvarado for her lack of oversight should be visited on DeLay as well. It’s that simple.

Party Chair update

Two candidates for Chair of the Texas Democratic Party have responded so far to South Texas Chisme’s questionnaire. Glen Maxey was the first to answer – his responses here. Later on Sunday, Charlie Urbina-Jones sent in his answers, which you can read here. I consider such responsiveness to be a good sign.

Bride of Acheron will support whoever does the most to make sure Barbara Radnofsky wins the runoff on April 11 against Gene Kelly. She also sensibly points out that not having a real candidate at the top of the ticket could have a bad effect on downballot races, especially at the countywide level. I hope that all members of the Run and Hide bridage will keep that in mind.

Speaking of Radnofsky, she has another guest post at Capitol Annex, with a report from the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) meeting, where she was unanimously endorsed by all SDEC representatives. That’s good to hear. We also have this report from Bexar County Precinct Chair John McConnell, which gives some other good news and some not so good news from the meeting.

UPDATE: Via Jeb in the comments, Boyd Richie’s comments are here.

Happy Birthday, Sammy Baugh

Via Banjo, I too would like to extend a (belated) Happy Birthday to Slingin’ Sammy Baugh, the first truly great quarterback in the NFL and to this day, the only punter to average better than 50 yards per kick for an entire season. Oh, and he was an outstanding defensive back, too, in those old two-way player days:

His finest day was when he threw four touchdown passes and intercepted four passes in a 42-20 victory over Detroit.

That was in 1943. Imagine how famous he’d be today if SportsCenter had existed back then. Happy birthday, Sammy Baugh!

Another rousing round of indifference from the Chron

As you know, one of the runoff elections on April 11 will be in HD146 between longterm incumbent and key Craddick lieutanant Al Edwards and challenger Borris Miles. The primary was hard-fought, with Edwards winning a solid majority in the early vote but falling below 50% based on a strong Primary Day showing by Miles and Al Bennett. The result of this runoff will be another indicator of the viability of Tom Craddick as House Speaker.

On Thursday, March 16, I reported that Bennett had officially endorsed Miles, thus unifying the opposition to incumbent Edwards and increasing the odds of turnover for the seat. It’s now Monday, March 20, and as yet, this fact has not been reported by the Chronicle. It hasn’t even warranted a mention in their new politics blog. (They’re all over the petitionefforts by the two not-yet-on-the-ballot gubernatorial hopefuls, however.)

So. Will the Chron write anything more about this race? If so, when? And is there a technical term for this kind of indifference? Leave your suggestions in the comments.