Three Things You Might Not Know About Perry Persecutor Michael McCrum: Allegations of Misconduct, His Donation to the Judge Who Appointed Him, and His Politics
There are three things you might not know about Michael McCrum, the special prosecutor who obtained an absurd indictment against Rick Perry:
- McCrum is a party to a pending appeal regarding whether he might be held in contempt of court for allegedly “encouraging a witness to refrain from appearing in court and avoiding subpoena by the State” (according to the Bexar County District Attorney).
- Although McCrum is being portrayed as a “Republican” by some hack Democrat shills, he has been described by one supporter as a “Democrat” — and his only contribution to a candidate for political office was to a Congressional Democrat.
- McCrum gave a $500 donation to the judge who appointed him as special prosecutor, before the appointment.
ALLEGATIONS THAT McCRUM ENCOURAGED A WITNESS TO AVOID TESTIMONY IN COURT
Let’s start with the allegation that McCrum, while a defense attorney, encouraged a witness to avoid testimony against his client. In January, mysanantonio.com reported on the controversy:
Much of the matter revolves around whether Melanie Little, who worked at Starlite Recovery Center in Boerne, was under subpoena and whether Alcala had dismissed her completely from the October intoxication manslaughter trial of Taylor Rae Rosenbusch. Little testified for the defense during the punishment phase.
Prosecutors allege McCrum told Little afterward not to come back to court and to turn off her phone because she was not under subpoena.
He also suggested she leave the area, because “the DA was out for blood” and “wanted Taylor to be put away for a long time,” the contempt motion alleges.
McCrum’s lawyers argue the trial record shows Alcala dismissed Little and didn’t tell her she could be recalled.
“Mr. McCrum did not misrepresent anything to the court, nor did he say anything to the witness that would cause her to ignore an instruction from the court,” Stevens said during last week.
The article said that McCrum was appealing, and that the appellate court had stayed the contempt proceedings. In late February, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in McCrum’s favor based on a technicality: lack of jurisdiction. The opinion does not indicate that McCrum denied the allegations that he told the witness to go home, only that he contended the court had lost jurisdiction over the case before starting the contempt proceedings.
The Bexar County District Attorney said in a press release on March 5, 2014:
In January of this year, the trial court directed the State to file a Motion for Contempt against McCrum based on allegations that McCrum engaged in improper conduct allegedly encouraging a witness to refrain from appearing in court and avoiding subpoena by the State. The contempt proceedings had already begun when McCrum filed a Writ of Mandamus with the Fourth Court asserting that the trial court lacked jurisdiction. Last week, the Fourth Court ruled in McCrum’s favor and the State is seeking review of that decision by the Court of Criminal Appeals.
On that same day, March 5, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals entered an order (.pdf) staying the decision of the 4th District Court of Appeals and inviting further briefing on the matter. The docket for the appeal to the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals shows that the writ proceeding appears to be pending at this time.
I’ll be keeping an eye on this. What McCrum is alleged to have done is subverting justice. Like the Perry indictment, it’s about twisting or hiding facts rather than seeking the truth.
McCRUM: A DEMOCRAT WHO HAS DONATED TO A CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRAT
Today, Byron York linked an amusing video of a hack Democrat trying to portray McCrum as a Republican. The head of “Texans for Public Justice” responds to the allegation that this is a “partisan witch hunt” by saying “nothing could be closer to the truth.” (Yes, he said “closer.” Paging Dr. Freud!)
Texans for Public Justice 'nothing could be closer to the truth' link: http://t.co/jLuk6FD9AE
— Byron York (@ByronYork) August 17, 2014
Hilarious. But on a more serious note, this partisan shill also claims that McCrum is a “Republican.” That does not seem to square with what I have read.
I have not found any news articles that specifically say whether McCrum is a Republican or a Democrat. A profile in the San Antonio Express portrays McCrum as a “thorough, dogged attorney” without a political axe to grind. A similarly flattering profile in the Dallas Morning News paints McCrum as a serious attorney who lacks partisanship. These warm portrayals of McCrum certainly seem undermined by the indictment, which is a hack piece of work that has been universally derided by Democrats and Republicans alike as wholly lacking in merit and an obvious political hit job.
Let’s look beyond the glowing lefty media portrayals and focus on the facts.
This October 2010 op-ed by Bill Mateja, a Republican supporter of McCrum’s bid to be U.S. Attorney, paints McCrum as a Democrat, albeit one who is non-partisan:
Mike McCrum’s recent announcement that he was withdrawing his name from consideration for the San Antonio U.S. attorney’s post underscores the fact that whatever the cause of the political logjam, it simply has to end.
McCrum — a first-rate, prosecutor-first-Democrat-second lawyer — withdrew his name even though he seemed to be the pick of Democrats and Republicans. He had been on hold too long without the ability to take on new cases, which was anathema to his legal practice and bringing home the bacon.
Consistent with Mateja’s description of McCrum as a Democrat, a search on OpenSecrets.org reveals one and only political donation by McCrum: a $500 donation made in May 2007 to Charlie A. Gonzalez, a Congressional Democrat from San Antonio who served from 1999 to 2013.
But that does not tell the whole story, because McCrum has donated to two Republicans as well. However, those donations arguably reveal nothing about his politics — because the Republicans were not politicians, but judges. The Dallas Morning News piece linked above gives more details:
According to campaign finance records, McCrum has made only a handful of contributions to state and federal candidates.
He gave $300 in 2007 to Steve Hilbig, a Republican judge on the state appeals court based in San Antonio.
Also that year, McCrum donated $500 to U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, a San Antonio Democrat.
In the next paragraph, the paper details one other contribution to a Republican judge. But that contribution deserves more than passing mention, so hold tight while I insert another section heading:
McCRUM DONATED TO THE VERY JUDGE WHO APPOINTED HIM AS A SPECIAL PROSECUTOR
Here’s the next paragraph of that Dallas Morning News profile:
The next year , he [McCrum] contributed $500 to Republican Robert “Bert” Richardson, a Bexar County district court judge. Richardson assigned McCrum as the special prosecutor after a watchdog group filed its abuse-of-office complaint against Perry.
So, the judge who appointed McCrum as the special prosecutor had taken money from McCrum in the past.
Now, let’s be clear: there’s nothing inherently unethical about this. Judges hear matters by attorneys who have donated to them all the time. Depending on the amount of the donation and the length of time between the donation and the proceeding, the judge may or may not choose to disclose the donation. Judges typically don’t recuse themselves due to such donations. My guess is that McCrum’s donation and Judge Richardson’s appointment each reflect an admiration that one holds for the other. I question the judgment of anyone who could admire a prosecutor who has brought such a patently abusive indictment. But I don’t mean to insinuate that this is any kind of conflict of interest or violation of ethics.
I do find it interesting, however — and worth passing along to you, the reader . . . for what it’s worth.
None of this really changes my mind about McCrum. I am still disgusted by his actions in indicting Perry, and it doesn’t really matter to me whether he’s a Republican or a Democrat. It matters to me a little bit whether he is a conscientious lawyer or a scumbag who tries to monkey with the judicial process by telling unfavorable witnesses to scram.
But the bottom line is: this indictment is a joke. If McCrum is as smart as they say, he must know it’s a joke. Yet he pursued it anyway. It’s a shameful act and he deserves unrelenting and withering criticism for it.