The final – or at least the penultimate, if you count the Perry case – death knell has rung for the Public Integrity Unit in Travis County. Jurors have found a state employee charged with felony fraud not guilty.
This was another case of Travis County DA attempting to embarrass Governor Perry and the Legislature. One of the rumors whispered about to justify the indictment of Governor Perry for abuse of power by vetoing State tax funds for the PIU was that he was trying to squelch this indictment and trial.
The Unit was based in the office of the Travis County District Attorney’s office, but funded by State taxes and part of our biennial budget. Back in the ’80’s, Travis County DA Ronnie Earle convinced the State Legislature to fund it, although other PIU’s in other counties exist, but aren’t funded by the State. This is the State agency that indicted and convicted Tom Delay for breaking a law that didn’t exist, only to have the case overturned by the State Appeals Court — after 9 years.
Earle also tried to convict Kay Bailey Hutchison, way back in 1993, after a failed attempt to become Senator in her place. That case was handled so badly by DA Earle that the judge ordered the jury to acquit on the first day of trial.
Just last year, the State Legislature removed the ability to oversee Legislative and political matters from the Travis County DA’s office and moved it to the Texas Rangers’ purview.
Just to be sure which agency we’re talking about and because no story about the PIU is complete with out it, here’s a pic of the DA that was the second person to head the Unit and who was convicted of drunk driving. Although she certainly threatened and abused the law enforcement officers and staff, for some reason the PIU never indicted her for abuse of power.