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Texas prosecutor drops ethics charges against embattled Senator Hutchison

A DAY after abandoning his prosecution of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R), a Texas district attorney released reams of documents that he said show a ``massive misuse of state employees'' while she was state treasurer.

A preliminary review of the thousands of documents made public Saturday show that state workers wrote thank-you notes for Mrs. Hutchison's personal and political speaking engagements and for gifts she received. They tracked checks written as political contributions and kept Hutchison's daily schedules both inside and outside of the Treasury office.

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Prosecutors intended to use the documents to prove that Hutchison ran a campaign operation from her state office and used employees for political and personal chores while she served as state treasurer, from January 1991 to June 1993.

However, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle refused to proceed Friday with the criminal trial after the judge declined to rule on whether the documents could be used as evidence. The defense had contended that they were illegally seized.

The senator was acquitted. She had claimed that the charges were part of a Democratic plot to hurt her reelection chances.

Hutchison said Friday she approved of releasing the documents for public scrutiny but sought to have them suppressed as evidence because ``this shouldn't be decided in a courtroom.''

Mr. Earle told reporters Saturday that the documents would show ``a pattern of a massive misuse of state employees and state resources and then an equally massive effort to cover it up.''

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