Free Enterprise Fund: 'Ronnie Earle Declares War on 1st Amendment'

The Free Enterprise Fund, the new target of Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, attacked the overzealous prosecutor Friday for trying to squelch free speech by subpoenaing two staffers who work for the conservative free-market organization.

Ads by the Free Enterprise Fund attacked Earle for his indictment of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R.-Tex.). Now, Earle is firing back. The draft subpoena asks that the group provide documents related to the ad buys. Earle suggests they could affect the outcome of his case against DeLay.

“These subpoenas are utterly unnecessary and manifestly calculated to punish advocacy protected by the 1st Amendment,” said Ted Olson, the former U.S. solicitor general who is representing the Free Enterprise Fund. “The information ostensibly sought by these subpoenas concerning when and where television messages were broadcast could readily be obtained without burdening and harassing those who would dare to challenge the methods and motives of this prosecutor. This is intimidation, plain and simple.”

Earlier Friday, Robert Novak, writing exclusively for HUMAN EVENTS, broke the story about the subpoenas targeting Free Enterprise Fund Executive Director O’Brien Murray and Communications Director Todd Schorle.

Mallory Factor, chairman of the Free Enterprise Fund, said, “We are confident that we will prevail in this case, but regret that Ronnie Earle is continuing to blaze his own rogue trail of legal overreaching.”

The subpoena requires Murray and Schorle to testify in Texas at DeLay’s change of venue hearing on Dec. 27 — the Tuesday after Christmas — about “any and all documentation regarding the advertisements that have been produced or paid for by the Free Enterprise Fund, including any and all information regarding media buys by the Free Enterprise Fund for those advertisements that have run in Austin, Texas, and that may affect whether Thomas Dale DeLay may receive a fair trial in Travis County, Texas."