In today’s post, I am going to concentrate on the politics of the DeLay case rather than the law. That will come later.
Will the DeLay verdict spell trouble for the Travis County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit, which receives state funding? In a blog post dated April 15, 2009, I wrote that amendment number one to the appropriations bill was a proposal by Wayne Christian, then and now the chairman of the conservative caucus, to shift the Unit’s funding to the attorney general’s office. Even if that were done, the Travis County DA would still retain concurrent jurisdiction over any crime committed in Travis County. But the DA’s office would have to seek new funding for attorneys and investigators from sources other than the Legislature. Republicans have been hesitant to go after the Public Integrity Unit in the past, for fear that they would look bad, but with Democrats unlikely to elect an AG for the remainder of the millenium, they might feel emboldened to do so. I think it’s a terrible idea to put an statewide elected politician in charge of ethics prosecution, but it could happen.
Several media outlets have noted that the crime committed by DeLay was part of an effort to elect a Republican majority in the House of Representatives in 2002. What is ironic about this is that the crime was unnecessary. The Legislative Redistricting Board, headed by then-AG John Cornyn, had seen to that, drawing a map that elected 88 Republicans. All the machinations in the case were designed to achieve a result that was foreordained.