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Anti-Earle ads coming

Via PinkDome, Josh Marshall and email to me, I see that an outfit called the Free Enterprise Fund is going to be running anti-Ronnie Earle ads on TV, starting in Austin and going nationwide. Here’s a story in Roll Call with the scoop.

The Free Enterprise Fund will launch a saturation television ad buy in Austin, Texas, Thursday that accuses Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle (D) of indicting Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) purely for blatant political purposes.

FEF, a conservative, Washington, D.C.-based think tank, declined to disclose the cost of the buy, but said it would run for seven days in Texas’ state capital, where Earle is based, before branching out to other media markets around the country.

“It will run so much, the only way Ronnie Earle will not see it is if he watches PBS, because they don’t let you run ads there,” said FEF Vice President and Political Director Peter Roff.

The 30-second ad features a barking, salivating Rottweiler, with a voice-over that recounts Earle’s alleged prosecutorial misdeeds. It ends by flashing the district attorney’s phone number while encouraging people to call Earle and tell him he’s wrong.

“A prosecutor with a political agenda can be vicious. When liberal Democrat Ronnie Earle went after Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison, the judge threw out the case. But now Earle’s after another Republican, Tom DeLay,” the voice-over begins. “Earle’s even exploited the DeLay case to raise money for liberal politicians. That’s wrong. Bad, Ronnie, bad.”

Roff said the ad has more to do with protecting the ability of free market principles to flourish on Capitol Hill than it does with defending DeLay, who was forced to step down as Majority Leader in late September after Earle indicted him for conspiring to skirt Texas election laws.

“Tom DeLay is the leader of the free-market agenda in the House, and any move to sideline DeLay is about sidelining that agenda,” Roff said. “It’s winning with the jury box what they can’t win at the ballot box.”

Whatever. As the Quorum Report says:

Critics in Austin question whether running TV ads taking sides in a criminal proceeding amounts to jury tampering. Of course, the flip side is that it makes it more difficult for Mr. Delay’s attorneys to seek a venue change by claiming that the jury pool in Travis County has been unduly influenced by supposedly pro-Earle local media. Mr. DeGuerin would argue that the change of venue and the use of a visiting judge were crucial to his success in the Hutchison case.

As with other tactics by Team DeLay, this is all about the PR war. It’d be funny if a motion to change venue were denied because of this, but it’s not about the trial. If these guys really do think they can affect that, then I hope there is a countercharge of jury tampering levelled at them.

So is this going to be helpful to DeLay? Well, consider this: According to Survey USA, the percentage of respondents who say DeLay should “resign from Congress” has stayed steady between 32 and 37 percent since May. It hit an alltime high of 40% in the latest iteration, dated October 10. Given that DeLay’s national approval rating is abysmal but his name recognition is still fairly low, I’m not so sure that keeping his name out there in front of everyone is such a hot idea. I guess we’ll find out.

UPDATE: The Public Campaign Action Fund has labelled these ads as jury-tampering and is calling for them to stop being aired. Their statement can be found here.

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3 Comments

  1. Charles M says:

    …protecting the ability of free market principles to flourish on Capitol Hill….

    Is there anyway to interpret this other than he sees politician’s votes going to the highest bidder?

  2. Mathwiz says:

    The Public Campaign Action Fund has labelled these ads as jury-tampering and is calling for them to stop being aired.

    I generally support PCAF, but what they’re calling for sounds uncomfortably like prior restraint. I doubt any court is going to block the ads, especially when a jury hasn’t even been empaneled yet.

    A better idea would be to hit back with our own ads, calling DeLay and his minions at FEF what they are: liars.

  3. Jury Tampering

    No matter your position on Ronnie Earle’s prosecution of Tom DeLay, this story should really make you angry. Off the Kuff is reporting that the Free Enterprise Fund has created television ads (click here to watch) attacking Earle because they want to “…