Friday, December 14, 2007

Travis County DA Ronnie Earle To Retire

It’s true. The famed district attorney of Travis County announced that he will not seek re-election after the last year of his current term. There has been speculation that he would make this announcement for a couple of months now.

It’s a real change of the guard. Earle has held that job since first being elected to it in 1977.

Ever the progressive Democrat, Earle has doggedly pursued a money laundering case against Tom DeLay, who Earle alleges, transferred $190,000 of TRMPAC money to a Republican run fund, and that fund, coincidentally, donated $190,000 to the campaigns of Republicans running for state house and senate. This enabled them to run a higher visibility campaign, and resulted in the first Republican majority in the Texas legislature since Reconstruction.

That case, continually delayed because of pre-trial motions, may not ever come to trial while Earle is in office.

But this is not the only time Earle has used his office to right the wrongs of Republicans. He accused then State Treasurer Kay Bailey Hutchison of improper use of her office for her campaign. Earle had the evidence, but the judge announced that he would not make rulings on admissibility of the evidence until the trial, telling Earle that he would rule the evidence inadmissible during trial and torpedo his case against Hutchison.

So he dropped the case.

Interestingly, this is widely regarded as the greatest show of weakness in his career, as it prompted someone to challenge him at the polls for the first time since taking office. A challenge that failed miserably.

But make no mistake, Earle has not used his office to prosecute Republican politicians only. Both Democrats and Republicans have been brought to trial by Earle for all kinds of misdeeds, a record that DeLay-Republicans always fail to mention.

Earle, at 65, is still comparatively young, which causes one to pause and speculate about any political plans he has in the future. A statewide race in 2010?

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