The big news out of Rochester this week that a jury found Ron Eibensteiner (former chairman of the MN GOP) not guilty of arranging an illegal corporate campaign contribution. Do the charges sound familiar dear readers? They certainly should because they are the same charges that Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) is facing.
The charges stem from a note that had the chairman's signature on it thanking lobbyist Ron Jerich for American Bankers (a Florida insurance company) contribution to the party. Company officials admitted that they mailed checkes to both the MN Republican and DFL Parties in the hopes on influencing the 2002 Minnesota Governors race (which Tim Pawlenty won). What the letter did not indicate was the fact (a fact which was key to the trial) that the check was forwarded on per Minnesota law to the RNC. None of the money was ever returned to Minnesota.
The Eibensteiner defense team has stated all along (without much argument from our friends in the local media outlets) that this was a hit job, engineered by Attorney General Mike Hatch in order to further his chances at gaining his "Holy Grail" - election to the Governors office. AG Hatch never disputed that fact.....that is until the day that the verdict was reached! Then all of a sudden we hear (out of the AG's office) that it was "not our trial". DFL Chairman Brian Melendez said (in a Star Tribune quote) that "Mike Hatch was a witness in the case. The Mower County attorney made the decision to prosecute, Hatch did not." One problem with that statement Brian. The "crime" did not take place in Mower County - it allegedly took place in St. Paul at the MN GOP Headquarters. Also, the Mower County attorney was not prosecuting the case - a "special prosecutor" was brought in from....St Paul! Even Ron Jerich (who was a Hatch supporter) said that this should have never come to trial - that the only reason it came to trial was to "get at the Republicans." It appears that, like Ronnie Earl in Texas, the only reason the charges were filed in Mower County is because AG Hatch was able to find a friendly county attorney in a heavily DFL leaning county to file charges. In essense - jury shopping, just like Ronnie Earl.
Many pundits, both in the legacy media and in the blogosphere have made the connection between the two trials. AG Hatch allegedly made the connection in off the record remarks to reporters from KAAL ""You know, and I was just talking about this in the office the other day, no one in the press had made the Austin/Austin connection. You know, Austin Texas and Austin Minnesota. " Well Mr. Hatch, I hope the two are indeed that connected. Because if there is an Austin/Austin connection, then Rep. DeLay should have a field day when he gets his chance at trial. For if Ronnie Earl did his homework as shoddily as AG Hatch did, the Rep. DeLay should be cleared and back in DC in time to save us from the weak kneed leadership that has taken over in his absense. Hurry up Hammer - we need you now more than ever!