Ronnie Earle was the District Attorney for Travis County, Texas until January 2009. He gained national attention for filing charges against House majority leader Tom DeLay in September 2005 for conspiring to violate Texas' election law and/or to launder money.
There is evidence that he is linked to George Soros in the prosecution case against Tom DeLay. He announced his retirement in 2007, but at this time the Austin-American Statesman speculated that he might be planning a gubernatorial run in 2010. Earle’s name has also been mentioned as a possible Attorney General candidate, but he quelled rumors in December 2009 by announcing he is running for the Democratic Party Lieutenant Governor's seat.
He grew up northeast of Fort Worth, Texas on a ranch near Birdville in a place now called Haltom City. He went to Austin at age 19 and earned government and law degrees from the University of Texas.
After law school at the University of Texas, he worked for Gov. John Connally and later was appointed associate judge in Austin Municipal Court at 26, making him Texas' youngest judge. He was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1973 and remained in it for two terms. He ran and won the Travis District Attorney seat after the predecessor retired.
He is married to Twila Hugley Earle and he has two children, including Travis County Court-at-Law Judge Elisabeth A Earle, Jason Earle and his stepdaughter, Nikki Rowling. He has two grandchildren by his daughter, Elisabeth.
He gained national attention when he prosecuted Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Texas State Representative Mike Martin. He also prosecuted himself for an election law violation for missing a campaign finance filing deadline.
Earle served as the District Attorney/prosecutor for Travis County, Texas, the home of state-capital Austin. Because Texas law does not allow the state Attorney General to prosecute infractions dealing with state campaigns or crimes against the state, that responsibility lies with the Travis County DA office through the state's Public Integrity Unit. Earle served six terms with this responsibility, four terms of which, he ran unopposed.
During his time as District Attorney, Earle has prosecuted 16 politicians, twelve of which were democrats and four were republicans. He successfully prosecuted a state treasurer, a House speaker, a state Supreme Court justice and several legislators, all Democrats.
Tom DeLay case
Ronnie Earle and TRMPAC
In September of 2004, District Attorney Earle brought an indictment case for money laundering and for illegally making corporate contributions to a political campaign (as it is against Texas law) against associates of former U.S. Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Jim Ellis and John Colyandro, and eight corporations in Texas. The eight corporations were Bacardi USA, Westar Energy, Williams Companies, Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care, Sears, Inc., Cracker Barrel, Questerra, and Diversified Collection Services.
Soon after the indictments, Earle began negotiating with Sears, Inc., one of the corporations indicted. Earle made a deal, saying he would drop the charges against them if they would pay $1 million to the "Center for Deliberative Democracy” (CDD) program at Stanford University.
Professor James Fishkin founded the CDD. Fishkin used to be a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, the same university at which Earle and his wife are adjunct professors.
Earle said the money would be used to fund a television program about corporate influence in politics.
“Earle says a program based on deliberative polling would be a good way to 'educate' Americans about the threat that he believes corporate political activity poses to the country's political system. Such a program's influence, he says, would extend far beyond Texas, which is one of 18 states that ban corporate giving. To be most effective, the program would be televised nationally; Fishkin has in the past done polls in conjunction with MacNeill-Lehrer Productions, the company that produces 'The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer' on PBS," said Byron York, in National Review.
Dollars for dismissal
Texas District Court judge Bob Perkins was not only the person who gave Earle and the corporations the state’s official approval for the $1 million per corporation "dollars for dismissal" signoff, but he was originally chosen to preside over the DeLay cases. Perkins was later forcibly recused from doing so because of excessive bias involving his political contributions to the far-left group, MoveOn.org, which is funded by Soros and produced commercials showing DeLay superimposed in a jailbird suit.
There are now suspicions surrounding the "dollars for dismissals" deal because there is little to no record of where the $4 to 8 million in "donations" went. The final agreement didn't disclose the payment amounts nor to whom they went.
An Austin American-Statesman story from February 22, 2008 showed a former Earle assistant District Attorney revealed where at least some of the money went:
- "…Earle, when pressed on the matter, said that some of the money is in a trust fund created by a defense lawyer and another amount went to the LBJ School at the University of Texas, which was to produce a still undefined program. UT Assistant Dean Jeff Patterson said school officials are in internal discussions on how to use the funds, and it remains in an investment account."
Patterson said that the money remained on hold. There were suspicions that the money was waiting for Earle to retire so he could run a program out of the LBJ School.
"Ronnie Earle's actions appear to be more egregious than those of Mike Nifong in North Carolina and U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie in New Jersey. We think his practices merit investigation. Our organization has made an open records request for documentation surrounding the corporate pay-offs, but the Travis County District Attorney's office refuses to respond even though the law requires action within 10 days of an official request. We find this curious, too," stated Heyward Smith, the Everglades Legal Foundation executive director.
Sen. Deuell's letter
Texas State Senator Bob Deuell requested by letter that Earle investigate Martin Frost’s PAC on May 27, 2004. Deuell believed there were illegal contributions to his 2002 opponent. Earle gave it a cursory, eight-week review and wrote ‘nothing looked improper.’
Earle later made false public statements when he was interviewed on "Texas Monthly Talks" a television interview program affiliated with the leftwing “Texas Monthly” magazine that aired on May 5, 2005. Earle was asked if he was investigating any Democrats similar to Texans for a Republican Majority PAC (TRMPAC) in that same 2002 election cycle. Earle answered no, saying, "nobody has made allegations against Democrats engaging in similar activities." Earle had personally signed a two-page letter dated July 30, 2004 to Sen. Deuell informing him of the results of his “investigation.” The letter lifts accusations of any wrongdoing by Frost because his funds were kept separately. This means the corporate and non-corporate money were kept in separate accounts, even though the PAC reported it as being all together.
Dick DeGuerin, DeLay's attorney representing DeLay, doesn’t believe the hold-up is politically motivated, but he is curious why the case has been sitting in the Texas 3rd District Court of Appeals for so long.
“It is a hot-potato case, and sometimes you think about that. But so was the FLDS and they didn't hesitate. It's a sticky question,” DeGuerin said, referring to the same bench's speedy management last month of the massive child custody dispute involving the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Though DeLay has faced some form of political exile, he is still a member of the conservative movement. As much as 3 years later, Earle still has not been to Texas court on this matter.
Filmmakers produced a documentary for Earle on the case, "The Big Buy." The documentary filmmaker was funded by Soros on earlier projects.
This case has garnered Earle many accusations of partisanship in his prosecutions. Critics point to Earle's attendance at a Democratic fundraiser in Dallas on May 12, 2005, during which Earle publicly discussed DeLay. “[Earle] has historically gone after persons with whom he's had political disagreements,” DeLay's lawyer Dick DeGuerin said. “Yes, he’s prosecuted more Democrats than Republicans, but that's because for a long time there weren't any Republicans in Texas.”
Overall procedure misconduct
Politically Charged gathered a list of facts about the DeLay case:
- Grand jury leaked. Press and public officials knew ahead of time who was subpoenaed.
- Prosecutor Cox calling publicly saying that John Colyandro engaged in criminal acts before any indictment was brought, which seems to be against the legal code of ethics according to the State Bar Association.
- Editing the news columns of the Austin American Statesman, most specifically, Dave McNeeley, prior to publication.
- Withholding exculpatory evidence about the money laundering charge from the subsequent grand juries, after the testimony of Charlie Speas (based upon his open testimony in the civil case).
- Not transcribing and making available the grand jury testimony of Charlie Speas.
- The "dollars for dismissals" of the four corporations and Earle's attempts to get the others to do the same.
- Allowing the press (Esquire Magazine, in particular) to attend Earle's private staff briefings about the case.
- Saying that the case was "the most egregious under his watch" while never even investigating the Dan Morales case. Earle never investigated other PACs, dating back to 1996, that had made similar transactions.
- Reaching beyond the election code and twisted the penal code to find a way to indict.
- The whole scenario of $190,000 in and $190,000 to the candidates isn't true. The RNSEC gave more than $3.4 million in candidate eligible dollars to Texas, more than $1 million directly to candidates, $234,500 to state House candidates. Even the checks written on the same day totaled $198,500, not $190,000.
- The cursory investigation of Martin Frost's PAC in relation to the Sen. Bob Deuell letter of complaint
- The political speech to the new Martin Frost Texas Values in Action Coalition Political Action Committee and discussing the case as part of the fundraiser in Dallas on May 12, 2005.
- Working with and accepting Texas' Monthly's award as the "most powerful Democrat."
- All of the comments about DeLay while he was never issued a subpoena.
- The Lou DuBose comments on the anti-DeLay panel, televised by C-Span, that more indictments were coming. DuBose apparently sited “inside sources” in Austin.
- The mulitple re-indictments of Jim Ellis and John Colyandro
"Earle has no case, no evidence, but a lot more money to spend because of this case."
DuBose and Reid book
Bernard Rapoport and his wife Audre were mentioned in the acknowledgments of the PublicAffairs Books-published book The Hammer: Tom Delay, God, Money, and the Rise of the Republican Congress, by Louis DuBose and Jan Reid. They were mentioned for having supported the authors during the process of the book's creation and for having proposed the idea of the book.
Public Campaign Action Fund began selling T-shirt with DeLay's mug shot on it.
Kay Bailey Hutchison case
 Critics have cited the case against Hutchinson in 1994 as an example of “misusing state telephones for political business.” At a pre-trial hearing, Earle declined to present a case when “the judge questioned the admissibility of the prosecution's evidence.” According to the Christian Science Monitor, “that led to Senator Hutchison's acquittal, and many saw the DA as an amateur.”
Center for Child Protection
Earle was an agency partner for the Center for Child Protection when he was the Travis County Attorney General in 2005. He and his wife are listed as "Foundation and Association Partners" for the Center for Child Protection. He presented at the Center's Grand Opening in 2008.
Ronnie Earle at Netroots Nation on Legislative Pay
Links to George Soros
Fishkin’s background reveals strong ties to George Soros. Fishkin has copyrighted and conducts “Deliberative Polls” in the United States and all over the world. Soros funds many of the overseas polls. Those polls in the U.S. are televised once a year on a PBS program called, “We the People”.
Fishkin has a partnership with McNeil/Leherer Productions to produce polls for broadcast. One of the local partners for “We the People” is the local PBS station in Dallas, KERA. KERA is where documentary filmmaker Mark Birnbaum worked and where his previous documentaries were broadcast on the show, Point of View (POV) The POV Web-site says the program is funded by Soros' Open Society Institute.
Filmaker Mark Birnbaum (KERA), with Jim Schermbeck, filmed a documentary on the indictments against DeLay and two of the associates called, "The Big Buy.” A label from one of the early copies of “The Big Buy” on DVD, says, “'The Big Buy' (produced for Ronnie Earle During the Tom DeLay Trial/2005/2006/ for Commercial Use".
Four of the indicted companies (Sears, Inc., Cracker Barrel, Questerra, and Diversified Collection Services) refused to give money to Fishkin or Stanford, but they gave a smaller amount to University of Texas at Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs. Fishkin still polling partners with a professor at the LBJ school, named Robert Luskin, though Fishkin did not teach there any longer. The two researchers conduct deliberative polls together and work with PBS to broadcast the results.
Earle has been listed as a participant (and his wife was listed as an observer, using the Travis County District Attorney's office address) for the Final Report by David R. Karp, Ph.D. titled, "Research Seminar on Community, Crime and Justice." The George Washington University Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies and The National Institute of Justice presented the report on March 31, 1997.
- Michele Deitch was recently awarded a fellowship from Soros’ Open Society Institute to study justice issues at UT Austin School of Public Affairs, in the same department as Robert Luskin. Dietch signed a letter to Congress from several university professors, including Bruce Ackerman, co-author and a colleague of Fishkin.
- Craig McDonald, the director of Texans for Public Justice (TPJ), filed the initial complaint to Earle, launching the investigation and the indictments. Soros' Open Society Institute contributes a significant amount of funding to TPJ. Twenty years ago, McDonald also started Public Citizen Texas, a state spin-off of the national organization that is also heavily funded by Open Society Institute. Public Citizen has been openly critical of DeLay and asked him to step down as Majority Leader (before the indictment). McDonald hired documentary filmmaker and environmentalist Jim Schermbeck to do an environmental study for Public Citizen Texas.
- Soros’ Open Society Institute's website shows that it gave $250,000 to Florida Atlantic University professor Gordon Bazemore, for a “Planning Grant to Design a Civic Justice Corps Reentry Project.” Bazemore then co-wrote an article with Twila Hugley Earle (Balance in the response to family Violence: Challenging Restorative Principles") in the book, Restorative Justice and Family Violence (edited by Heather Strang and John Braithwaite). Other contributors were Kay Pranis, Julie Stubbs, Kathleen Daly, Allison Morris, Joan Pennell, Gale Burford, Donna Coker, Larissa Behrendt, Harry Blagg, Loretta Kelly, and Ruth Busch.
- Soros has funded MoveOn.org with over $7 million. MoveOn.org Texas produced television ads against DeLay with doctored photos showing him in handcuffs.
- Another Soros-funded group, Progressive Democrats of America officially praised Earle for his work and awarded him as one of the best progressives in the country.
Possible higher office
Earle filed a form with the Texas Ethics Commission to run for office in 2010 but did not specify which office he will seek.
"I've got some hopes that I can spend some time and energy advocating for public financing of campaigns and against corporate corruption and for universal health care," he said. "Those are three things that I think are the very most important things that we could do to restore democracy, because if democracy depends on money, it isn't democracy – because then the public is frozen out of the process."
Earle has also said, “I am going to be doing some life preaching, but it ain’t going to be the gospel."
- Ronnie Earle website
- Current Travis County District Attorney website
- "Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle retires"
- Background report for indictment against DeLay by Public Citizen
- Commentary piece by Earle
- Video interview of Earle
- Draft Ronnie Earle for Texas Governor Twitter feed
- Draft Ronnie Earle for Texas Governor group on Facebook
- Former Travis County DA Ronnie Earle contemplates Texas AG run; old office in crosshairs of two GOP lawmakers, Texas Watchdog, April 29, 2009
- Earle mulls run for attorney general, Austin American-Statesman, April 25, 2009
- Blog post about TRMPAC funds
- ↑ "George Soros and the Nifong of Texas," Politically Charged.org, September 29, 2007
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Earle with the Texas Tribune
- ↑ Restorative Justice, articles written by Twila Hugley Earle
- ↑ About Ronnie Earle
- ↑ Entry Voters ain’t done till the runoffs are won Campus activism
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 "George Soros and the Nifong of Texas," Politically Charged.org, September 29, 2007
- ↑ "Other jury declined to indict DeLay," Boston Herald, October 6, 2005
- ↑ "DeLay Is Indicted Again in Texas; Money Laundering Is Charge" New York Times, October 4, 2005
- ↑ "The Texas DA pitted against the power of Tom DeLay," Christian Science Monitor, December 3, 2004
- ↑ "High court upholds dismissal of indictment against DeLay," Austin American-Statesman, June 27, 2007
- ↑ Ronnie Earle’s $8 Million PoliticallyCharged, September 24, 2008
- ↑ Earle in interview
- ↑ DeLay's case details
- ↑ Blog post about TRMPAC funds
- ↑ "Two Years Later, DeLay Wants Day in Texas Court," Fox News, June 17, 2008
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 "Dollars for Dismissals," National Review, June 20, 2005
- ↑ Ronnie Earle's Prosecutorial Misconduct, Politically Charged
- ↑ The Hammer: Tom Delay, God, Money, and the Rise of the Republican Congress, (Page ix)
- ↑ "The Case Against Kay," Houston Press, June 23, 1994
- ↑ Center for Child Protection 2005 annual report
- ↑ Netroots Nation's 2008 Conference
- ↑ The Big Buy on IMDB
- ↑ Final Report
- ↑ Restorative Justice and Family Violence, edited by Heather Strang and John Braithwaite
- ↑ Interview with DeLay
- ↑ Earle takes first step to run, Austin American-Statesman, July 2, 2009
- ↑ District Eternity:Ronnie Earle on Ronnie Earle, Austin Chronicle, April 11, 2008
- ↑ Ronnie Earle should run for Governor of Texas, Eye on Williamson, January 2, 2009