Texas GOP leaders consider call to pardon DeLay

Former Congressman Tom DeLay high-fives staff members outside his Washington, D.C. office back in April 2006 — before he was convicted on felony money laundering charges

A week ago, on Friday, Nov. 6, John Wright posted this item on Instant Tea about the conviction of former Texas Congressman Tom DeLay on felony charges of money laundering for illegally funneling corporate dollars into Texas state legislative races in 2002, and how Travis County’s lesbian district attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg, helped get that conviction.

Now comes word, from the Austin American-Statesman, that members of Texas’ State Republican Executive Committee plan this weekend to consider a resolution calling on Gov. Rick Perry to pardon DeLay. The proposal — submitted by SREC member Clint Moore of Spring — was to be considered today by the SREC’s Resolutions Committee and, if approved, then advance for consideration by the full SREC.

DeLay, in case you don’t remember, represented a Houston-area House district from 1984 to 2005, and was known as one of Congress’ most anti-gay members.

Although I was rather stunned to read that the SREC is considering calling on Perry to pardon DeLay, I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised. After all, that’s pretty much par for the course for the party whose state platform calls for LGBT people to be declared criminals.

The resolution uses the word “desperately” a lot in describing how former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle Jones worked to get DeLay indicted, and calls the trial that culminated with DeLay’s conviction “a mockery of a show trial.” The resolution says Perry should grant DeLay a complete pardon on all charges “to end the absurd political circus and gross abuse of our judicial system by Earle and his successor, as well as the corrupt Democrat judges of that county,” and concludes by calling on the Texas Legislature to “permanently eliminate the authority of the Travis County District Attorney’s office to prosecute state and federal elected officials like Tom Delay, due to the grossly politicized environment of Travis County, as well as to devise a special prosecutor system for cases involving state and federal elected officials, to be overseen and administered jointly by the Attorney General and the Governor of Texas.”

Go ahead and read the full text of the resolution after the jump.

—  admin

If Rick Perry is so ‘fed up,’ why doesn’t he leave?

We weren’t lucky enough to receive an advance copy of Gov. Rick Perry’s new book, Fed Up!, so for now we’ll just have to rely on other media outlets around the state who’ve posted excerpts. Thus far, we haven’t seen any examples of overt gay-bashing by Perry in the book, but we did notice what we’re sure is one of many major factual issues, so we thought we’d go ahead and issue a clarification. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Perry writes the following in Fed Up:

“If you don’t support the death penalty and citizens packing a pistol, don’t come to Texas. If you don’t like medicinal marijuana and gay 
 marriage, don’t move to California.”

This quote is really a variation on something Perry said several years ago, when asked what he would tell gay and lesbian veterans returning from Iraq who wanted to wed: “If there is some other state that has a more lenient view than Texas, then maybe that’s a better place for them to live.” In other words, Perry’s message to gay people is, “If you don’t like how we treat you in Texas, move somewhere else.” And his message to straight people is, “If you hate gay people, move to Texas.”

If Perry really believes that people should only live in states where they agree with all the laws, then we suppose he’s entitled to his opinion. But at the very least, we think he should get his facts straight.

Same-sex marriage isn’t legal in California, governor, and it hasn’t been since November 2008, when voters approved something called Proposition 8. Sound familiar? Yes, marriage was legal briefly during the summer of 2008, and the constitutionality of Prop 8 is currently being challenged in federal court. But no, same-sex marriage is not legal in California, so ultimately your statement doesn’t make much sense. Perhaps what you meant to say was, “If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t move to Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont or the District of Columbia.”

Also, if you really hate the federal government so much, governor, we’d suggest you consider moving to a country that’s more in line with your views. We hear Iran is nice.

—  John Wright

Texas House Democrats in big trouble

Earlier we told you about some incumbent Democratic state representatives in Dallas County who were behind after early voting. The Austin American-Statesman reports that the trend appears to be statewide:

A Republican tidal wave appears to have hit the Texas House, with a slim GOP majority poised to grow into a massive one.

Republicans, who now have 77 seats in the House, could well reach 90 by the end of the night. Locally, Democratic Reps. Patrick Rose of San Marcos and Diana Maldonado are in serious trouble after early-vote tabulations, and so is Rep. Valinda Bolton of Austin.

A number of Democratic House members in the Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston areas are also in serious trouble. No Republican appears in danger of losing.

Needless to say, this doesn’t bode well for pro-equality legislation in next year’s session. It could also put the community at risk for anti-gay legislative attacks.

—  John Wright

Did the Rainbow Lounge raid prompt TABC to stop arresting people for public intoxication?

In fiscal year 2009, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents made 761 arrests for public intoxication — a figure that includes a few high-profile ones you may have heard about at the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth.

In fiscal year 2010, which began one month after the Rainbow Lounge raid, TABC has made just 81 arrests for public intoxication, The Austin American-Statesman reported over the weekend.

Based on these numbers, one might deduce that the highly controversial raid — which resulted in three agents being fired — also prompted TABC to abruptly change its enforcement practices. But according to the agency, this is only partly true.

TABC officials say the changes really began in fiscal year 2007, two years before the raid. Consider that in fiscal year 2006, TABC agents made a whopping 3,100 public intoxication arrests.

But in response to a long series of controversies — the Rainbow Lounge raid being just one of the latest — TABC began shifting its focus from petty criminal enforcement back to its mandate of regulating the businesses that sell alcohol.

Carolyn Beck, a spokeswoman for TABC who also now serves as its liaison to the LGBT community, told Instant Tea on Monday that’s it’s “impossible to calculate” how much of a factor the Rainbow Lounge raid has been.

“If you look at the decreasing numbers of criminal citations issued by our agents, and the increasing number of hours spent on investigations, it’s clear that we have been moving in this direction since FY 2007,” Beck said. “But you can also see a significant jump forward this fiscal year which started 9/1/09. It’s impossible to calculate how much of that push was in response to the Rainbow Lounge, but certainly incidents like the Rainbow Lounge and the shooting in Austin resulted in our agency direction changing at a faster pace.”

—  John Wright