February 16, 2004
NYT covers DeLay investigation

Here's a longish NYT article about the ongoing investigation into Tom DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority PAC and the allegations that it illrgally funnelled corporate money to candidates in 2002. It oddly doesn't mention the Texas Association of Business, but it does give a nice overview of the story to date as well as provide some new details.

The extent to which Texans for a Republican Majority used corporate money in the 2002 races is laid out in a trail of recently obtained documents. Under Texas law, political action committees are generally prohibited from using corporate and union donations for anything other than administrative expenses, like rent and utilities.

But records and interviews show that fund-raisers from Texans for a Republican Majority who were paid with corporate money solicited donations on behalf of individual candidates backed by the committee, which also spent corporate donations on fund-raising events, polling and a voter identification project.

In one case, corporate donations were used to pay a $1,200 legal bill to defend a new Republican legislator, Bill Zedler, against accusations from his opponent that he did not live in the district that elected him.

The documents, and interviews, also show that the committee often coordinated its efforts with Tom Craddick, a Republican state representative whom lawmakers elected speaker of the House after the 2002 elections. Later, at the urging of Mr. DeLay, Mr. Craddick helped lead the bitter fight to carve the state into new Congressional districts.


Before the 2002 elections, Mr. DeLay wanted lawmakers to take up redistricting, Mr. Ellis said, adding that "there is no question" that Mr. DeLay wanted Mr. Craddick elected speaker. The two men served in the Texas House together in the 1980's.


Records and interviews show that other committee officials were involved in raising money sent directly to candidates.

On Aug. 12, 2002, [TRM's 2002 fundraiser Susan] Lilly wrote an e-mail message to [TRM Executive Director John] Colyandro and Warren Robold, a fund-raiser for Mr. DeLay who worked for the committee and, records show, was paid with money from corporate donations. In it, she described a visit from Ron Olson, an official with Union Pacific railroad.

Mr. Olson, she wrote, "came down this morning and said that through DeLay's efforts (i.e. Warren) that UP had identified $25,000 worth of TRMPAC targets that he is supposed to individually go and give checks to. However, he was asked that a 'DeLay' person accompany him when he gives the checks (so that the recipient will know that it was TRMPAC related)."

A Union Pacific spokeswoman confirmed that Mr. Robold asked Union Pacific to make donations from its political action committee to candidates backed by Texans for a Republican Majority. He made the request, she said, after the railroad declined to donate to the committee.

Union Pacific donated to 11 candidates but would have made those donations anyway, she said. She also confirmed Mr. Craddick handed out some Union Pacific checks to candidates, explaining that company officials did not have time to do it.

The grand jury investigation has been going on for some time now - I know I'm ready to see some action. For more background, check my recent interview with Fred Lewis and Fred's site Clean Up Texas Politics.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 16, 2004 to Scandalized! | TrackBack

If anybody had any doubts as where the republicans were while Kerry was blowing up the AWOL story to balloon proportions, you know it now. They were sharpening their nails and teeth. This is going to be the most divisive, vindictive slugfest we'll see. The Bush boys want to win and they ain't taking no prisoners.

Posted by: Ricky Vandal on February 16, 2004 9:56 AM

Kerry blew that up? An odd misconception.

Also from the article: "The notion that TRMPAC alone administered itself in this way is deceitful and offensive," Mr. Colyandro said."

Ah, the old "everybody else does it" defense. I can hear my Mom asking me about jumping off the roof now.

Posted by: Linkmeister on February 16, 2004 7:15 PM