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An exoneration for Ralph Reed in Texas…sort of.

Texas Travis County Attorney David Escamilla has just released a statement saying that he will not pursue a formal criminal investigation into Ralph Reed’s lobbying activities in Texas. Not because Reed didn’t break any laws – actually he says quite the opposite – but because there is a two-year statute of limitations for prosecuting misdemeanors in Texas. So Reed gets off the hook.

Reed was facing a possible investigation for not registering as a lobbyist in Texas in 2001 and 2002 while he was working there for Jack Abramoff. As I pointed out before, Reed didn’t register because he wanted his work for Abramoff to be as much off-the-books as possible.

Texas law generally requires people to register as lobbyists “if they receive more than $500 a quarter to directly communicate with a state official on public policy.” It was evident from emails released as part of the Abramoff investigation that Reed had done a lot of traditional lobbying – contacting public officials and the like. And Reed was certainly getting a lot more than $500 a quarter. So Common Cause Texas, Public Citizen Texas, and Texans For Public Justice filed a complaint with Escamilla’s office and asked for an investigation.

But they were too late. It just took too long for all this to come to light.

Here’s what Escamilla had to say about it:

The information presented by the complainants raise legitimate questions concerning Mr. Reed’s activities and possible violation of Texas law. The process of proving such violations would require a comprehensive criminal investigation delving into the financial arrangement between Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Reed as well as the actual compensation received by Mr. Reed for any time spent communicating with members of Texas’ government. According to Mr. Escamilla, ‘Without evidence involving lobbying activities within the last two years, I cannot justify initiating a formal criminal investigation given the statute of limitations bar to prosecution of Mr. Reed for any of his activities in 2001 and 2002.’