Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Deja vu all over again: Four years ago, California's insurance commissioner, Republican Chuck Quackenbush, resigned in disgrace after it was discovered that he let several insurance companies avoid billions of dollars in fines in return for "donations" to a non-profit foundation that he ran. This same foundation conveniently used Quackenbush in "public service announcements" designed to boost his visibility and ambitions for higher office.
Well, according to National Review's Byron York, it appears that that Texas prosecutor who's gunning for Tom DeLay has similar problems.
Ronnie Earle, the Texas prosecutor who has indicted associates of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in an ongoing campaign-finance investigation, dropped felony charges against several corporations indicted in the probe in return for the corporations' agreement to make five- and six-figure contributions to one of Earle's pet causes.
A grand jury in Travis County, Texas, last September indicted eight corporations in connection with the DeLay investigation. All were charged with making illegal contributions (Texas law forbids corporate giving to political campaigns). Since then, however, Earle has agreed to dismiss charges against four of the companies — retail giant Sears, the restaurant chain Cracker Barrel, the Internet company Questerra, and the collection company Diversified Collection Services — after the companies pledged to contribute to a program designed to publicize Earle's belief that corporate involvement in politics is harmful to American democracy.
At the very least, it doesn't look good -- and that's something that prosecutors should know to avoid.