None 'off the hook' in probeTravis County prosecutor reacts to DeLay report
By R.G. RATCLIFFE, Houston Chronicle
Nov. 23, 2004
AUSTIN - A Travis County prosecutor Monday said no one is "off the hook" in the investigation of a political committee founded by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land.
Assistant District Attorney Gregg Cox, who is leading the investigation, said all individuals associated with Texans for a Republican Majority are still potential suspects in the case. But Cox said no further grand jury investigation or potential indictments will occur before January.
"No one has ever named Tom DeLay or any other individual as a target in this investigation. Nor have we ever said that anyone is off the hook," Cox said.
Cox said District Attorney Ronnie Earle "has repeatedly said that anybody who committed a crime is a target in this investigation. And this investigation is ongoing."
Cox reacted to a CBS News report that said DeLay is unlikely to be indicted in the case by saying, "It would be premature to talk about who may or may not be indicted at this point."
Three of DeLay's political associates have been indicted on charges of illegally flowing corporate money into 2002 Republican campaigns for the Texas House.
The GOP takeover of the House in that election set the stage for DeLay to push a major congressional redistricting bill through the Legislature.
Cox said prosecutors in those cases have been too busy to present any additional information to the current grand juries.
"Given the limited amount of time left in the term of these grand juries, combined with the time off for the holidays and other interruptions that we expect, it's not feasible to start with anything with these grand juries," Cox said. "So we will probably wait until January to begin any major action in the grand jury."
Cox emphasized that the indictments of DeLay's associates are "one part of the overall investigation. There is much left to be done in respect to that investigation, and no one is off the hook yet."
DeLay reacted to the CBS story by again calling the investigation by Earle, a Democrat, politically motivated.
"I heard about that this morning, and it's political gossip. Ronnie Earle has indicted three people frivolously and they are frivolous indictments, and I have every confidence they will be thrown out. What he's thinking right now or not does not concern me," DeLay said during a trip Monday to the Johnson Space Center.
House Republicans voted last week to protect DeLay's position as majority leader in case he is indicted in the TRMPAC case.
Under the change in party rules, he will not automatically have to give up his position if he is indicted. The former rule, from 1993, required leaders who were indicted to step aside.
Now, if criminal charges are brought against a party leader or committee chairman, the leadership steering committee will decide whether the charges are valid and whether party members should vote to force the leader to step down.
Chronicle reporter Mark Carreau in Houston contributed to this report.