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Friday, May 20, 2005

 

Houston Chronicle: Prosecutor in probe of DeLay PAC raises funds for other side

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By MICHAEL HEDGES

Earle's speech on political corruption keys on the GOP leader, whom he likens to a bully

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who denies partisan motives for his investigation of a political group founded by Republican leader Tom DeLay, was the featured speaker last week at a Democratic fund-raiser where he spoke directly about the congressman.

A newly formed Democratic political action committee, Texas Values in Action Coalition, hosted the May 12 event in Dallas to raise campaign money to take control of the state Legislature from the GOP, organizers said.

Earle, an elected Democrat, helped generate $102,000 for the organization.

In his remarks, Earle likened DeLay to a bully and spoke about political corruption and the investigation involving DeLay, the House majority leader from Sugar Land, according to a transcript supplied by Earle.

"This case is not just about Tom DeLay. If it isn't this Tom DeLay, it'll be another one, just like one bully replaces the one before," Earle said.

"This is a structural problem involving the combination of money and power," he added. "Money brings power and power corrupts."

The crowd of 80 to 100 Democratic activists responded by making donations that exceeded the event's fund-raising goal.

Earle and his staff of prosecutors have obtained indictments of three DeLay associates on charges that their political committee, the DeLay-led Texans for a Republican Majority, broke state campaign finance laws with the use of corporate donations on its way to helping establish Republican control in the state House.

Earle said Wednesday he knew the group that met in Dallas was raising money for Democrats, but that it was not his reason for speaking.

"I'd make the same speech to any group, Republican or Democrat, as long as the group was interested in honest, open government," Earle said in a telephone interview.

The prosecutor said he did not recall making other fund-raising speeches for anyone besides himself since he began investigating DeLay.

"We are investigating anybody who has committed a crime," he said when asked if DeLay is a target of the probe.

Houston Chronicle full story.

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