February 19, 2004
Craddick records subpoenaed

And the grand jury investigation of Texans for a Republican Majority moves forward,with Travis County DA Ronnie Earle subpoenaing House Speaker Tom Craddick's documents from the 2002 Speaker's race. Basically, the allegation is that Craddick funnelled TRMPAC money to Republican House candidates in return for their supporting Craddick as speaker. Various stories have differed on how many candidates were the beneficiaries of this largesse - this one says 20 races and 7 candidates (huh?), the NYT story speaks of 11 candidates, though that appears to be for money from Union Pacific, and this Statesman story says 14 candidates and a different amount of boodle. It sure is hard to keep it all straight. Anyway, Craddick say's he's happy to cooperate in today's Statesman story:

Craddick's statement comes just after reports that he helped Texans for a Republican Majority raise and deliver campaign funds to Republican candidates who went on to vote for him as speaker.

A state law bars outside groups from trying to influence the internal House election — either directly or indirectly. It also is illegal for a candidate for speaker to knowingly accept a group's help in that election.

A spokesman for the speaker has said Craddick already had secured the majority of his Republican votes for speaker before distributing money to those candidates.

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle said that an ongoing investigation of Texans for a Republican Majority has been broadened, but declined to discuss specifics.

The money that Craddick delivered came from Union Pacific Railroad and from donations made to Texans for a Republican Majority. The group was formed by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to help elect the first modern-era Republican majority in the state House. That majority went on to elect Craddick as the first Republican speaker since Reconstruction.

Prosecutors say Texans for a Republican Majority illegally used corporate donations to help Republican candidates in two dozen House races. The Texas Association of Business is under investigation in connection with similar allegations.

It is illegal for corporate money to be used for electioneering, and both groups have denied wrongdoing.

Earle later released a fuller statement, which can be found on the Quorum Report.

In the late Fall of 2002, in response to public boasting by the Texas Association of Business (TAB) that it had collected and contributed money from corporations to elect candidates to the Texas Legislature, this office began an investigation into possible violations of Texas law prohibiting such corporate contributions.

That initial effort led to an investigation of allegations that Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC), a political action committee, also illegally raised and used corporate money for political purposes.

During the course of the investigation into the activities of TRMPAC, possible criminal conduct in connection with the race for Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives was uncovered. As a result, the investigation was broadened once again to include those allegations.

As part of that investigation, and as announced today by Speaker Tom Craddick, a subpoena duces tecum for production of records has been served on the Office of the Speaker of the House.

The subpoena will be filed of record tomorrow in the Travis County District Clerk’s Office.

Lots of activity going on, with the focus apparently shifting from the TAB investigation to TRMPAC. Stay tuned. Links via Byron and Clean Up Texas Politics. Be sure to read this Statesman editorial, too.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 19, 2004 to Scandalized! | TrackBack