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

Minn. judge upholds law that revealed Target donation

MARTIGA LOHN | Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A federal judge refused on Monday, Sept. 20 to interfere with a new Minnesota law that revealed political donations from Target Corp. and other companies, saying the public has an interest in knowing who speaks and who pays for those messages as the election approaches.

U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank denied a temporary injunction in a lawsuit brought by supporters of Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, including an anti-abortion group and an anti-tax organization. They sued to overturn the law on free speech grounds and had asked Frank to suspend the disclosure requirements immediately.

Frank answered with a firm no.

“Invalidating the election laws at issue here would likely result in corporations making independent expenditures without any reporting or disclosure on the eve of the upcoming general election on November 2, 2010,” his ruling said. “This result so close to the election would clearly harm the state, Minnesota voters, and the general public interest.”

That came the day before independent political funds, including those collecting corporate dollars, are required to file their latest campaign finance reports with state regulators. They must list donors who gave more than $100 and show how they’re spending their money.

The law was enacted in May after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling early this year freed businesses to spend company money on elections, overturning restrictions on corporate political spending in about half the states, including Minnesota. State lawmakers responded by enacting disclosure requirements so that corporate campaign spending would be public.

The lawsuit from Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, the Taxpayers League of Minnesota and a travel agency contended that the reporting requirements were so burdensome that they amounted to a ban on free speech.

During election years, businesses and independent groups must submit five reports and disclose large donations within 24 hours for the three weeks leading up to the primary and the last two weeks before the general election. In off years, one report is required. The registration requirement is triggered when businesses or independent funds spend more than $100. Penalties for violations can be as high as $25,000.

Frank said the state law does not restrict corporations from spending freely on political speech as long as they follow the disclosure requirements.

“The law at issue here is not a ban, but rather a disclosure law,” his ruling said.

Joe La Rue, the Terre Haute, Ind.-based attorney for the groups that sued, had no immediate comment.

Attorney General Lori Swanson said the decision will help voters.

“This ruling lets average voters know who is financing elections in Minnesota,” she said in a statement.

The lawsuit also challenged the state’s prohibition on corporations contributing directly to candidates and political parties. But Frank said that ban wasn’t invalidated by the Supreme Court ruling, which revolved around with corporate independent expenditures made with the input or knowledge of candidates or political parties.

Target’s donation attracted national attention because it seemed to conflict with the company’s gay-friendly reputation. The Minneapolis-based retailer donated $150,000 to MN Forward, a business-oriented political fund supporting Emmer, an outspoken opponent of gay marriage, in the governor’s race.

—  John Wright