Wednesday, May 21, 2003

The aftermath of the Killer D's is looking as sleazy as the initial adventure was entertaining. Today's Ft. Worth Star-Telegram reports that the Texas Department of Public Safety destroyed all records and photos gathered in the search for the truant Democrats.

A one-sentence order sent by e-mail on the morning of May 14 was apparently carried out, a DPS spokesman said Tuesday. The revelation comes as federal authorities are investigating how a division of the federal Homeland Security Department was dragged into the hunt for the missing Democrats -- at the request of the state police agency.

Addressed to "Captains," the order said: "Any notes, correspondence, photos, etc. that were obtained pursuant to the absconded House of Representative members shall be destroyed immediately. No copies are to be kept..."

It was signed by the commander of the DPS Special Crimes Service, L.C. "Tony" Marshall.

At this point it's not clear whether they actually broke Texas law in doing this. As with the call that brought Homeland Secuity into the search, it's also not clear whether Marshall was acting on his own or on orders from higher up the food chain. Meanwhile, Homeland Security is refusing to release tapes or transcripts of the conversation between DPS and the federal interdiction center. Josh Marshall catalogs how Tom DeLay's story of his involvement changed during the week the Texas Dems were on the run.

Whether or not any crimes were technically committed, there is enough appearance of impropriety and cover-up that Texas DPS, Homeland Security, and Tom DeLay all need to be fully investigated. And, while the jury is still out, Democrats--Texas and national--need to make as much noise as possible over this. This kind of abuse of influence is what Republicans do when they have enough power to throw around. This should be a campaign issue for someone.

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