June 03, 2003
In other subpoena and deposition news

Rep. Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth) gave his much awaited deposition yesterday, in which he swore he'd name sources within DPS. Whom did he finger? Uh, well, that'd be Roberta Bilsky, a staffer of Rep. Kevin Bailey (D-Houston).

Deputy Attorney General Jeffery S. Boyd, representing DPS, said Burnam admitted in his deposition Monday that Bailey staffer Roberta Bilsky was his source.

"His one and only source was an employee of Representative Kevin Bailey named Roberta Bilsky, certainly not anybody in the DPS, much less any well-placed or high-ranking person in DPS," Boyd said.

Burnam acknowledged that Bilsky was his source, but said he believes she possesses the evidence to back up her claims.

Dammit, Lon! Here's what you promised last week:

At a hearing set for Monday, the Fort Worth Democrat will be asked to reveal the identity of a "well placed source inside DPS" on which Burnam based much of his lawsuit.

He said the source can corroborate his charge that DPS officials destroyed records illegally.


Outside the courtroom, Boyd, the state's deputy attorney general for litigation, said he doubted Burnam's source exists.

"He is calling me a liar, and I highly resent that," Burnam said.

"The source does indeed exist, and it's (a person) who is well placed inside DPS, and I will reveal that source" under oath on Monday, he said.

A staffer for a fellow legislator is not a well-placed source inside DPS. Maybe Roberta Bilsky has her own source - frankly, for a staffer to have that kind of contact makes more sense to me anyway - but that's not the same thing. You bluffed and got called on it, and now you look like a fool. Thanks a hell of a lot.

So now Bailey and Bilsky get to be deposed, after a series of snippy letters were passed between Bailey and Boyd.

According to a letter Boyd sent Bailey, the attorney general's office tried to find Bailey and Bilsky on Monday to set up their depositions.

"This morning I sent a process server to your office but we have been informed that Representative Bailey has 'left town' and that Ms. Bilsky is 'out' until later this afternoon," Boyd wrote.

Noting that Bailey had discussed his committee's preliminary investigation with reporters, Boyd's letter continued, "It would be inexplicable if he were now unwilling to provide testimony about those matters."

Bailey shot back a letter later in the day taking umbrage at Boyd's missive.

"Frankly, I resent the tone and implications of your letter," Bailey wrote.

Bailey said he left Austin on Monday to return to Houston because he is to begin teaching a class at Houston Community College on Tuesday.

"Had you actually informed me last Friday of your intention to depose me, I would have attempted to work out some arrangement with you," Bailey wrote.

Interestingly, Bailey is now saying that there was more than one call to Homeland Security during the disputed time. Maybe when he talks to the Attorney General we'll get some answers.

In other news, there's been a development in the grand jury investigation of the Texas Association of Business. You may recall that Travis County DA Ronnie Earle is investigating whether TAB used corporate money to run ads for candidates in last year's election, which would be a violation of state law. The judge in the case ruled that TAB could not claim First Amendment protection to shield its membership list, thus allowing Earle to question individual association members.

Anyway, a couple of those members have been found in contempt:

State District Judge Mike Lynch found two association employees, Jack Campbell and Cathy DeWitt, in contempt of court for refusing to answer questions about the group's $1.9 million advertising campaign during last year's elections.

That media blitz, financed by secret corporate donations, helped elect the first Republican majority in the House in more than 100 years. That majority, in turn, provided a business-friendly forum for the association to pursue its agenda of no new taxes, cheaper employee health insurance with less mandatory coverage, and limits on lawsuits.

On Monday, Lynch allowed Campbell and DeWitt to post bail, pending appeals, rather than go to jail. Campbell is a lobbyist for the association, and DeWitt is a public relations staffer.

I suppose you have to admire their dedication to principle, or possibly their fear of the TAB's code of omerta. We'll see how long they hold out.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall is also puzzled about Burnam's apparent prevarication, and notes that the AG is putting Kevin Bailey under oath after Bailey had been investigating the AG.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 03, 2003 to Killer D's | TrackBack