AUSTIN, Texas - Two days after U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay won a fight to get a new judge in his case, prosecutors on Thursday succeeded in ousting the Republican jurist responsible for selecting the new judge.
Administrative Judge B.B. Schraub recused himself after District Attorney Ronnie Earle filed a motion asking for his removal from the case.
Schraub said he will ask the chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court name a judge to preside over DeLay's conspiracy and money laundering trial.
State district Judge Bob Perkins, a Democrat, was removed from DeLay's case Tuesday after DeLay's legal team cast doubt on Perkins' ability to judge the case fairly because of more than $5,000 in contributions he's made to Democrats.
Earle said in his motion filed Thursday that Schraub has made more than $5,000 in contributions to Republican candidates, including to Gov. Rick Perry, a DeLay ally, which calls into question Schraub's impartiality in the case.
Prosecutors had asked for Schraub to recuse himself or appoint another judge to take his place. The motion said that Schraub could ask Perry to appoint the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to assign a judge to conduct a hearing on the motion.
DeLay, 58, and two associates have been accused of funneling corporate donations from a DeLay-founded political committee in Texas to the Republican National Committee, which sent the money back to GOP legislative candidates in Texas. Texas law forbids the direct use of corporate money for campaigning.
The alleged scheme was part of a plan DeLay helped set in motion in 2001 to help Republicans win control of the Texas House in the 2002 elections. The Republican Legislature then adopted a new congressional voting district map that DeLay crafted to put more Republicans in Congress in 2004.
In coordination with DeLay, Perry called lawmakers back for three special sessions to tackle the contentious redistricting map, despite vehement opposition from Democrats, who staged two out-of-state walkouts to halt progress.
In the end, it was DeLay who brokered a redistricting agreement, visiting the state Capitol and shuttling back and forth between the House, Senate and Perry's office.
"Governor Perry was a major figure in the redistricting effort that the (DeLay) successfully argued," Earle said in his motion. "Because Judge Schraub has donated to Governor Perry, he has disclosed through this free speech that he agrees in principle with Perry's agenda regarding Tom DeLay's redistricting map."
Prosecutors also suggest an appearance of Schraub's political indebtedness to Perry, who appointed him as administrative judge and has authority to reappoint him again in January.
Still, Earle wrote that prosecutors believe Schraub to be "completely fair and impartial, with a sterling reputation of honesty and integrity.
"However, as the recusal of Judge Perkins reflected, such is unfortunately no longer the standard in our state for the judiciary," he said.
Schraub, 76, also has contributed money to the Republican campaigns of George W. Bush for Texas governor and president. He has more than 40 years of judicial experience, including the last 15 as administrative judge. He also spent 20 years as state district judge for the region.