The indictment of U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay for alleged criminal conspiracy sets up a rematch in Texas between Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle and prominent Houston criminal defense lawyer Dick DeGuerin, who successfully defended another high-profile politician in a case that ultimately was a big embarrassment for Earle.
In 1994, DeGuerin was lead counsel for U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, whose trial for allegedly tampering with government records ended with a directed acquittal, after Earle refused to present the state’s case. In that case, prosecutors alleged Hutchison, while the state treasurer, put state-paid employees to work on her 1992 Senate campaign and then attempted a cover-up after Earle, a Democrat, began investigating.
On Sept. 28, a Travis County grand jury indicted DeLay, R-Texas, and two political associates for criminal conspiracy, the result of an almost three-year investigation into allegations that corporate money was unlawfully directed to Texas House of Representative candidates in 2002.
“The law that makes corporate contributions a felony in Texas is intended to safeguard democracy and make the ballot box accessible to everybody, regardless of the amount of money involved,” Earle said at a news conference a few hours after the grand jury returned the indictment.