Ronnie Earle is at it again.
Tom Delay was indicted on a second charge, this time for money laundering, by a Travis County grand jury on Monday. The second indictment came not long after counsel for Delay filed motions seeking a dismissal of the first indictment on the grounds that the conspiracy statute did not apply to 2002 election law in Texas. This second indictment was issued on the same day that the Justice Department confirmed that they would be talking to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in connection to a visit she had in 2000 with Delay during a trip which had been arranged by Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The inquiry into Delay's activities on the trip is part of a larger corruption investigation of Abramoff and the lawmakers whom the lobbyist was associated with.
As I've said many times, I'm glad that Ronnie Earle is going after Delay, and I'm pretty darn sure that Delay violated campaign finance laws (after his other string of ethics violations, funnelling money from TRMPAC seems like the kind of thing he would have almost done casually and without thinking). I am, however, a little bit worried about how the Travis County D.A.'s office is running this prosecution. Like I've said, Earle and the kids at the D.A.'s office should have known that Delay was going to come out swinging, and that's exactly what happened. Every indictment that Earle issues needs to be airtight, 'cause Delay is going to hire some of the best lawyers in the country (and Deguerin is up there), and they're going to poke holes in anything that's not on extremely solid legal footing and backed up by some really solid evidence. As much as I love to see Delay indicted, they need to handle his case very carefully, because if Delay dodges this bullet he's going to come back stronger than ever, even more convinced of his own invulnerability. And that's not a good thing when you're going after one of the most powerful politicians in Washington- especially one who holds the nickname "The Hammer", in part because of the retribution he metes out against his political enemies.
Anyway, my point is just that Mr. Earle needs to make sure his ducks are in a row before he goes after this guy because Delay and crew are going to exploit every misstep or apparent misstep that the prosecution makes in their attempt to make this case look like a witch hunt.
It sounds like the Justice Department may soon be adding to Delay's list of problems, however, and if the feds ultimately end up charging Delay with corruption, his federal court problems may make these Texas charges look insignificant by contrast.
In other news, it seems that at least some conservative leaders are hesitant to support Harriet Miers, Bush's new choice for Supreme Court nominee, because they don't feel that her political leanings fall far enough to the right.
Some conservative leaders such as Rush Limbaugh have openly criticized the pick, while others such as James Dobson (Focus on the Family) and Paul Weyrich (the Free Congress Foundation) have stated that they are skeptical, but will reserve judgement until they learn more.
This is probably a good sign for those of us in the middle or on the left. In fact, pretty much any time Rush Limbaugh starts bitching about something, you can take that as a good sign. I think that these leaders on the far right were willing to accept Roberts' confirmation without complaint because they assumed that the next appointment that Bush made would be farther to the right. Now that Bush has selected another fairly moderate candidate in Miers, conservatives are realizing that the president has no intention to stack the court with right-wingers, and this realization is ruffling some feathers. In truth, I think that the selection of somewhat conservative but fairly moderate candidates by Bush is politically savvy. He'll still get some pretty conservative people appointed, but without having to test his current political strength (which may not be all that great at the moment after the Katrina debacle and his sagging approval numbers) through a long, protracted confirmation battle.
I also noted that Alan Greenspan, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, will be retiring in January and that Bush will need to pick someone to fill his seat. This may have a huge impact on the U.S. economy, as Greenspan has been a key influence in guding the U.S. economy during his tenure, helping to avoid deep recessions and massive inflation through (among other means) his control of interest rates. It'll be interesting to see who Bush comes up with to fill that post.