NPR's Sunday Weekend Edition aired an interview today with the foreman of the Grand Jury which indicted Tom DeLay last week.
This is undoubtedly the same man I heard on Austin's KLBJ asserting the complete independence of the Grand Jury proceedings.
I'm going to transcribe here in full his interview with Wade Goodwyn on NPR. LeeAnn Hanson introduces the segment, noting that "DeLay was accused of conspiring to evade Texas campaign finance laws and faces up to two years in prison if convicted. DeLay, his lawyers, and fellow Republican politicians have denounced the indictment as a vindictive, partisan legal attack. But the foreman of the Travis County Grand Jury says the indictment was no witch-hunt and there was more than enough evidence to charge the congressman." NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports:
Wade Goodwyn: At 76 years old, William Gibson is retired from his long career as an investigator for the State Board of Insurance. In April of this year he was picked for a 90-day stint on a Travis County grand jury. Mr. Gibson didn't know it, but he was about to serve on one of the most famous grand juries in Texas history. Since issuing their indictment of House Speaker [sic] Tom DeLay five days ago, the Grand Jury action has been the object of considerable derision by Republicans. So among the first things the jury foreman wants to say about all this is that the five men and six women he served with are people of integrity.
William Gibson: We had Democrats, we had Republicans and we had some Independents on it. And this was not a hand-picked grand jury.
Goodwyn: Between robberies and auto thefts, Gibson's grand jury heard evidence about a political action committee started by Tom DeLay called TRMPAC -- Texans for a Republican Majority. In 2002, TRMPAC's objective was to raise money to elect a majority of Republicans to the Texas House for the first time since Reconstruction. With DeLay's help, TRMPAC raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in corporate contributions. But in Texas, it's illegal to use union or corporate contributions for political campaigning. That's what Gibson's grand jury was investigating: whether Tom DeLay had conspired with two of his associates to launder nearly $200,000 in corporate contributions to seven Republican candidates to the Texas House.
Gibson: What we were looking at was a broad spectrum of information and evidence that was presented to us.
Goodwyn: The facts in the case aren't, in fact, in dispute. One issue was whether this action was illegal under Texas law. In a civil suit against TRMPAC, a state judge has already ruled this was money-laundering. Still, that was in civil court. But if illegal, it leads to another big question. Did Tom DeLay know about this alleged money-laundering and did he participate in it? Gibson says, based on the documents and evidence he saw, there is no question about it.
Gibson: I would not have put my name on that indictment had I not been convinced there was sufficient evidence to proceed. I did not sway. It was put up to a vote and it was, I would say, a unanimous decision that an indictment be returned.
Goodwyn: It takes only 9 out of the 12 grand jurors to issue an indictment. But Gibson says there was no argument. He says there were emails and phone-logs that convinced them DeLay knew about the scheme. When asked if there was any uncertainty on the part of any of the grand jurors, Gibson was definitive if not effusive:
Goodwyn: There's an old saying that any DA worth his salt can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. But it's also true that grand juries can grasp their power and take seriously their commission for justice. If you ask William Gibson whether DA Ronnie Earle might have been leading them by the nose, Gibson takes quick offense:
Gibson: And you can be assured that Mr. Earle did not come and tell us, "I want this... I want that." And I'm quite sure that Mr. Earle did not persuade us in any form or fashion. It wasn't Mr. Earle that indicted Mr. DeLay. It was the Travis County Grand Jury.
Goodwyn: If there is one regret that Gibson has in all of this, it's that Congressman DeLay never came to talk to the Grand Jury. Gibson said the House Majority Leader had an open invitation. After the indictment, DeLay denied he'd been asked to appear before them. But on Friday, DeLay's lawyers conceded Gibson's position. Gibson says they just wanted to hear DeLay's side.
Gibson: We wanted to talk with him, see if he could enlighten us on his side of the story. We kept getting "He may come, he may come" and then he didn't show up. As I say, he'll have his day in court and I don't regret what this Grand Jury did. I'll stand behind our indictment and I'll tell Mr. DeLay that right to his face.
Goodwyn: William Gibson predicts that those who believe there is no evidence against the former House Majority Leader are going to be surprised once the case gets underway.