More crackerjack reporting from

More crackerjack reporting from the Washington Times.

Today’s Times runs a piece with the headline “DeLay accuses Earle of taking corporate funds.”

The relevant passage reads …

Rep. Tom DeLay said District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who is prosecuting him for trying to involve corporate money in Texas politics, has taken such contributions himself.

“It’s real interesting he has this crusade against corporate funds. He took corporate funds, and he’s taken union funds, for his own re-election. That’s against the law,” Mr. DeLay told The Washington Times yesterday.

A review of Mr. Earle’s campaign-finance filings in Texas shows that he has received contributions from the AFL-CIO, including a $250 donation on Aug. 29, 2000. He also has received contributions listed on the disclosure forms only as coming from the name of an incorporated entity, often a law firm.

Mr. Earle has said repeatedly that state law bars corporate and union contributions. Attempts to reach Mr. Earle yesterday for comment, including a phone message left on his assistant’s voice mail detailing Mr. DeLay’s charge, were unsuccessful.

The story seems like it has real punch until you realize that the Times decides not to tell its readers that the statute doesn’t cover law firms.

The law (see page 24) says …

§ 253.091. Corporations Covered
This subchapter applies only to corporations that are organized under the Texas Business Corporation Act, the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act, federal law, or law of another state or nation.

Texas law firms are incorporated under the Texas Professional Corporation Act.

A bit further down in the statute they make it even more clear …

(a) For purposes of this subchapter, the following associations, whether incorporated or not, are considered to be corporations covered by this subchapter: banks, trust companies, savings and loan associations or companies, insurance companies, reciprocal or interinsurance exchanges, railroad companies, cemetery companies, government-regulated cooperatives, stock companies, and abstract and title insurance companies.

And if that <$Ad$> weren’t enough the friends of the Times and DeLay at this Texas anti-trial lawyer site say it explicitly: “These corporations are restricted from contributing directly to candidates. Law firms, however, do not have the same impediments to contributions, leaving trial lawyer firms free to contribute as much as possible to their favorite candidates.”

I don’t know whether the claim about union contributions is equally silly (Late Update: Yep, turns out it is. See here.) I’ll leave that to folks in Texas who know the statute better. But what does seem pretty clear is that Mr. DeLay made an intentionally misleading accusation. And the good folks at the Times just decided to go along for the ride.

Shocking, just shocking …

Late Update: It seems I didn’t fully plumb the depths of the dishonesty of DeLay and his enablers at the Times. Stakeholder has more.