Monday, December 19, 2005

The Washington Post Casts A Skeptical Eye On Ronny Earle

The Washington Post, of all places, doubts the legitimacy of the criminal charges against Tom Delay.

It may be, as the judge found, that the money-laundering statute technically applies in this situation, but its use here strikes us as odd. Ordinarily, money laundering would be taking criminal booty -- say, drug money -- and finding a way to transform it into legitimate-looking funds. In this case, though, the "proceeds of criminal activity" -- the corporate-funded campaign checks -- are the same as the alleged criminal activity itself. Indeed, with the conspiracy charge thrown out, the money-laundering statute is being used as something of a stand-in for the election law -- except that it carries a bigger penalty. And there's always reason to pause when a prosecutor seems to be shaping the law to fit the circumstances.

Tom Delay might consider hiring Washington governor Christine Gregoire. As attorney general, she helped the teacher's union constuct a system nearly identical to Delay's to evade a voter-passed law that placed restrictions upon certain union political expenditures.

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