June 22, 2003
Chron discovers Westar

A mere two weeks after the story first broke, the Houston Chronicle has finally done some reporting on Westar Energy and its generous donations to various Republican lawmakers, including Tom DeLay. In doing so, they uncovered a new local angle.

For DeLay, the Westar donation to Texans for a Republican Majority was part of a $1.5 million campaign to help the GOP gain a majority in the Texas House of Representatives. DeLay's ultimate plan, still unfolding, is for that new Republican state House to draw Texas congressional districts that would solidify the GOP hold on the U.S. House.

At DeLay's urging, Gov. Rick Perry has called a June 30 special legislative session on congressional redistricting, a session that could cost Texas taxpayers as much as $1.7 million.

The Westar contribution was part of at least $433,000 that Texans for a Republican Majority raised from out-of-state corporations, lobbyists and federal contractors who stood to gain from friendly relations with the powerful majority leader.

"The donors' purpose was an interest in legislative issues in Congress. It was Tom DeLay who turned that money into a partisan tool in the Texas Legislature," said Craig McDonald of the advocacy group Texans for Public Justice.

That's right, hundreds of thousands of dollars from out-of-state businesses was raised by a political action committee whose ultimate purpose was to butt into the state legislators' agenda in order to push redistricting. And this is better than a court-approved map how?

I've reproduced the sidebar article which lists some of the bigger contributors below. These are the people who are trying to determine which member of Congress represents you.

Most of the corporate donors to Texans for a Republican Majority weren't Texans at all but out-of-state businesses trying to win favor with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land. They include:

Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care, $100,000. The Boston-based nursing home owners' group in 2002 lobbied Congress in opposition to a proposed $2 billion cut in Medicare funding that would have cost nursing home chains about $35 million a year in lost revenue.

Questerra Corp., $50,000. A Richmond, Va., software company that specializes in homeland defense computer programs, Questerra last year launched an aggressive program to obtain government contracts.

Diversified Collection Service Inc., $50,000. Based in Union City, Calif., the company holds contracts with the Internal Revenue Service to help enhance tax collections.

Westar Energy Corp., Topeka, Kan. $25,000. Sought repeal of a federal grandfather clause that affected the firm's profits.

Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvellas Meed, $25,000. A lobby firm with 20 listed clients, mostly in high technology or transportation, the firm last year opened a new practice dedicated to obtaining homeland defense contracts for clients.

Bacardi USA, $20,000. The Miami-based liquor company lobbies Congress on trademark and federal excise tax issues, according to the Miami Daily Business Review.

Perfect Wave Technologies, $15,000. Perfect Wave is a subsidiary of a San Diego, Calif., company that provides high technology computer software to the U.S. Department of Defense.

The Barona Band of Mission Indians and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, $6,000 total. In 1995, at the request of the Mississippi Indians, DeLay helped kill a proposed tax on Indian gambling. Since then, the tribes have become major Republican donors.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 22, 2003 to Scandalized! | TrackBack