Friday, January 18, 2008

Travis District Attorney Candidates and the Public Integrity Unit

Everyone should head over to The Texas Observer and read their long article on the Travis County DA race: “Replacing Ronnie Earle: The Race to Become the Most Important Prosecutor in Texas”The article focuses on the Public Integrity Unit. Rick Reed comes out in the article looking like a real fighter within the DA’s office for the indictment against Tom Delay. In fact, according to the article, if it were not for Reed, there may not have even been an indictment against Delay.

In an interview, Reed publicly revealed bitter dissention that seized Earle’s office before the DeLay indictment. He says his colleagues, including Lehmberg, wilted at the prospect of seeking an indictment against one of the nation’s most powerful politicians. “Everyone felt the pressure. Different people reacted differently to it,” Reed said. “I was the only person pushing to present the case to the grand jury.”By fall 2005, the grand jury had already indicted two of DeLay’s associates from the controversial 2002 campaign-John Colyandro and Jim Ellis. Everyone in the DA’s office seemed to agree on the Ellis and Colyandro cases, Reed said, adding that much of the same convincing evidence also implicated DeLay.

“Yet when it came to Mr. DeLay, the suggestion was that he’s a very powerful man, therefore we ought to be more careful in making this decision, and we ought to be reluctant to do it because of the fact he’s so powerful,” Reed said. “The issue that motivated the argument was political: he’s a powerful man, and the sky’s going to fall if we present this to the grand jury. … I’ll tell you quite candidly, that offended me. It offended me then, and it offends me now. In the American judicial system, I think every person ought to be treated equally. Whether or not a person holds a political office just shouldn’t be a consideration.”

Reed said Lehmberg opposed seeking an indictment, as did several of the other prosecutors. He said he believes Lehmberg wouldn’t have indicted DeLay had she been DA at the time. Reed said he convinced Earle through a series of conversations and memos, besting the three other veteran prosecutors.

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