AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – The same judge, the same prosecutor, the same defense attorney, the same Republican complaints of political payback and the same courtroom strategy. The case against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is playing out like a rerun of a Lone Star court drama that unfolded in 1993-94.
Back then, it was Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison fighting for her political life against Democratic District Attorney Ronnie Earle. Ultimately, she was acquitted of misconduct charges with the help of defense attorney Dick DeGuerin.
DeLay, another Texas Republican, has hired DeGuerin to defend him as well, and DeGuerin is employing some of the same legal and media tactics that worked last time – accusing the district attorney of misconduct, branding the case a political vendetta and demanding the removal of a Democratic judge for alleged bias.
The parallels between the cases are striking.
“It’s like ‘Twilight Zone.’ You’re seeing the same pattern,” said Brian Berry, a GOP consultant who was Hutchison’s campaign manager when she first ran for Senate.
DeLay is under indictment on conspiracy and money-laundering charges for allegedly funneling illegal corporate contributions to GOP candidates for the state Legislature. Texas law generally forbids the use of corporate money for campaigning.
Hutchison was charged with using state dollars, employees and computers for personal and campaign purposes when she was Texas treasurer in 1991 to 1993. She was also accused of tampering with state computer records to cover the alleged abuses.