Democrats Defend Political Persecutions in Texas

by Kevin D. Williamson

Texas, as I argued in the March 23 edition of National Review, has a corruption problem—from its police to its universities. One of Texas’s acute corruption problems is the fact that the Travis County district attorney’s office, which prosecutes corruption cases, is absurdly, comically corrupt—by which I do not mean the “Hey can you get my dopey kid into UT law?” level of corruption that is commonplace in Texas, but Boss Hogg levels of corruption. You wouldn’t know it from the typically witless and servile reporting of the Austin American-Statesman, but the drunk-driving conviction of Travis County district attorney Rosemary Lehmberg is the least of that office’s problems—much more significant is the fact that is she recorded on camera threatening legal retaliation against the police who booked her. She is as explicit as can be about this: “You’re going to be in jail,” she said.

The same prosecutor is trying to put former governor Rick Perry in jail for having vetoed funding for her office. Why did he veto the funding? Because the corruption prosecutor is grossly corrupt and a convicted criminal to boot. She went to jail, for pity’s sake.

The Texas state house understandably has passed a bill that will curtail the Travis County district attorney’s special role in prosecuting ethics and corruption cases against elected and appointed officials. Instead, those cases will be investigated by the Texas Rangers. (Old punishment: jail. New punishment: Ranger roundhouse kick! Okay, not really, but that would be kind of awesome.) Naturally, Texas Democrats have sought to block that reform. And a handful of Republicans have, to their discredit, joined them, which is inexplicable.

Why do Democrats want to keep things in Austin? Because Democrats control Travis County, which is home to the state capitol and the University of Texas, and Democrats generally dominate jurisdictions where there are lots of government employees. (Shocking, right? It’s almost as if people do not cease to be self-interested profit-seekers when they go into government.) And they have long enjoyed using Travis County prosecutors as political weapons: Lehmberg’s office under Ronnie Earle was responsible for the risible and corrupt prosecution of Tom DeLay, which ultimately was laughed out of court, but not before ruining his political career and upending his life—which, of course, was the point. The issue is not successful prosecution; it’s successful persecution. 

If you want to really appreciate what Democrats with guns and badges at their disposal will do in furthering their political interests, you will not find a more terrifying story than David French’s recent account of the Gestapo tactics used by Democratic prosecutors in Wisconsin against Scott Walker and conservative activists. It is nearly impossible to believe that this sort of thing is going on in the United States of America in 2015, but it is. We aren’t talking about petty politics here—we’re talking about using battering rams to knock down people’s doors and sticking guns in their faces because they supported a ballot initiative displeasing to Democratic authorities.

Harry Reid—and every Democrat in the Senate—voted to repeal the First Amendment to render the Supreme Court powerless to protect Americans from this sort of abuse. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wants to put Americans in prison for disagreeing with him about global warming—and many so-called progressives agree with him. Under the Obama administration, we have seen a weaponized IRS targeting conservative groups for persecution and a weaponized FBI leaning on conservative activists, followed up by a weaponized ATF.

And Democrats, individually and collectively, have supported and enabled every one of these gross abuses of power.

When a governor can be indicted for vetoing a bill, when a university regent can be threatened with criminal prosecution for exposing corruption, and when you have armed men kicking down your door because you signed the wrong petition, you don’t live in a free society—you live in a police state. And that is what Democrats are building, from Austin to Milwaukee to Washington.

(Since I mentioned the Perry case, I’d like to once again remind the reading public that my hometown newspaper, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, has published outright lies about that case, lies that its editors refuse to correct on the novel theory that they are not responsible for what is published under their banner. This is a shameful abdication of duty.)

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