Earle prosecutes Democrats and Republicans alike

Editorial: March 17, 2003


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Until recent years, Democrats controlled the Texas Legislature, held most statewide offices and caused the big scandals. Now the situation is reversed, but some Republicans want their scandals to be exempt from investigation.

During his long tenure, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has prosecuted many more Democratic officials than Republicans. The record does not support allegations that Earle is prone to partisan witch hunts.

Furthermore, the argument that Earle should drop the investigation because of its high cost ill becomes a political party that supported the spending of tens of millions of dollars to investigate Bill and Hillary Clinton's failed real estate investment in Arkansas, with little result.

Earle is investigating whether state Rep. Tom Craddick, a Republican, broke the rules in his race to become speaker of the Texas House. That investigation grew out of another begun to determine whether the Texas Association of Business and Texans for a Republican Majority illegally used corporate donations to influence Texas House races.

The whole scandal came to light after the TAB bragged that it had used corporate donations to gain a Republican majority in the House. As proof of his evenhandedness, Earle has subpoenaed the records of former House Speaker Pete Laney, a Democrat, after Craddick's defenders suggested that Laney had behaved similarly.

A spokesman for the Republican Party of Texas called Earle's investigation frivolous. That charge is rebutted by the impressive legal talent hired to represent the targets of the probe.

Earle himself perhaps put the matter best: "This is not about Democrats and Republicans. It is about cops and robbers. This is an investigation of a crime.

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