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Travis County DA candidate Rosemary Lehmberg Photo by Jana Birchum chosen in the Democratic primary on March 4. Lawmakers and lobbyists have carped about Earle for years. The Legislature tried cutting his budget, but Earle persisted and won election after election. So this year’s primary is the first chance in a long while for special interests to influence the Public Integrity Unit, making the election one of the most important to watch. Each of the four candidates to replace Earle has a different view on the role of the integrity unit. The early front-runner is Rosemary Lehmberg. She has worked in the Travis County DM office for three decades \(preceding even Earle’s arrival by tant district attorneyEarle’s second in command. He gave her his enthusiastic endorsement after the filing deadline in early January. A stately woman of 58, Lehmberg is the most experienced candidate. She has worked in and supervised every division of the DAs office, including the integrity unit. “She has the most experience. She has the best judgment that has been tempered by steel,” Earle told reporters. “So I think she would make the best district attorney for Travis County” Lehmberg characterized the integrity unit as one of the office’s most important divisions. “I feel very strongly that our government is not for sale, that our democracy is not for sale,” she said. “I have always viewed our role as somewhat the guardian over the state Capitol. And that doesn’t mean you’re heavyhanded, that doesn’t mean you overreach. But that separation, that balance, that mutual oversight is healthy and necessary” She argued that such power must be used delicately. She 8 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JANUARY 25, 2008 noted that the office receives numerous complaints of corruptionmany of them politically motivatedthat must be weeded carefully. “In the political world, the mere fact of an investigation can destroy a career. We try to thoroughly ferret out the facts and the law before [a case] goes too far and it winds up on the front page of the paper,” she said. “That doesn’t mean we hide it, but I have learned how sensitive they can be:’ Candidate Rick Reed, an assistant district attorney, styles himself as the one in the race who will truly go after political corruption. He draws inspiration from his father, Dick Reed, a two-term state representative from Dallas who was a member of the famed “Dirty 30” reform group of the early 1970s. Rick Reed, 52, joined the Travis County DAs office nine years ago after an unsuccessful run for DA of Dallas County. Earle transferred him to the integrity unit in late 2003 to investigate allegations of campaign finance violations against DeLay and assorted political action committees. Reed is credited with building much of the case against DeLay. In an interview, Reed publicly revealed bitter dissension that seized Earle’s office before the DeLay indictment. He says his colleagues, including Lehmberg, wilted at the prospect of seeking an indictment against one of the nation’s most powerful politicians. “Everyone felt the pressure. Different people reacted differently to it,” Reed said. “I was the only person pushing to present the case to the grand jury” By fall 2005, the grand jury had already indicted two of DeLay’s associates from the controversial 2002 campaignJohn