February 26, 2004
Subpoenas target DeLay

Another batch of subpoenas in the ongoin TRM investigation was made public by Travis County DA Ronnie Earle yesterday, and they are all about Tom DeLay in one way or another.

Nearly 50 subpoenas -- some issued Tuesday and others dating back to last October -- were made public as part of the ongoing investigation into Texans for a Republican Majority, a political action committee formed by DeLay, R-Sugar Land.

The subpoenas seek testimony and documents from the committee's researchers, political consultants and fund-raisers, including DeLay's daughter, Danielle Ferro.

That would be Danielle Too Hot For The Hot Tub Ferro, for those keeping score at home. The Statesman has a fuller list of lucky winners.

* Russell Anderson, the accountant for Texans for a Republican Majority, who has been asked to testify today. He already was subpoenaed for a list of 81 types of records, including financial records, copies of political polls, research, correspondence and documents concerning the committee's relationship with DeLay and other elected officials.

* Demetrius McDaniel, an Akin Gump lobbyist, who has been summoned to the grand jury today in connection with corporate donations he made to the Republican Majority group on behalf of two clients: $2,500 from Primedia Inc., and $5,000 from Lexmark Inc. McDaniel addressed at least one of the donations to Craddick at the committee's Austin address.

* Danielle Ferro, DeLay's daughter, who was paid by her father's Texas committee to plan committee events.

* Records from the Republican National Committee concerning an exchange of $190,000 between an arm of the party's national committee and Texans for a Republican Majority. The Texas committee gave the national party $190,000 in corporate money in the fall of 2002.

In a single day two weeks later, the national party cut seven checks to Texas House candidates totaling $190,000. Republican officials have called it a coincidence. Critics claim the Texas committee was laundering corporate money that it could not legally donate to candidates into legal donations.

Two Austin candidates, Jack Stick and Todd Baxter, got $35,000 each from the national committee and went on to become freshmen lawmakers who voted for Craddick as speaker.

* Records of John Colyandro, the Texas committee's executive director. He ran the organization under an advisory committee that included DeLay, state Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano; state Reps. Dianne White Delisi, R-Temple, and Beverly Woolley, R-Houston; and then-Railroad Commissioner Tony Garza.

* Consultants who provided polling, research or other services to Texans for a Republican Majority. Among them are DeLay's corporate fund-raiser Warren Robold of Washington, Austin researcher Milton Rister, Austin consultant Todd Smith, Dallas-area consultant Kevin Brannon and Austin fund-raiser Susan Lilly.

* Matt Welch, a lobbyist with Texans for Lawsuit Reform, a group that worked to limit lawsuits in the past legislative session.

* Records of Americans for a Republican Majority, DeLay's national political action committee.

* Records from several Austin restaurants and private clubs, plus the Purple Sage Ranch of Bandera, where officials with the Texas committee had a weekend retreat.

* Records from Blakemore & Associates, a Houston consulting firm, and Clinton International Investigations of Houston. Toomey hired private investigators to do criminal background checks on Democratic candidates, then asked Texans for a Republican Majority to help pay for those services.

Blakemore and Associates is the big cheese among Harris County GOP political consultants. The Chron story has more on them:

Among the newer subpoenas was one issued Tuesday to Houston political consultant Allen Blakemore, who was ordered to provide records next week related to his contacts in 2002 with TRMPAC, Texans for Lawsuit Reform and Mike Toomey, then a lobbyist for the Houston-based lawsuit reform group. Toomey now is chief of staff to Gov. Rick Perry.

Blakemore said there was nothing unusual in Toomey hiring him to employ a private investigator to conduct background checks on Democratic House candidates Debra Danburg of Houston, D.L. "Donnie" Jarvis of Sherman and Danny Duncan of Commerce in September 2002. Blakemore said it was a public records search.

"It's not looking through somebody's window or looking through trash," Blakemore said.

Houston private investigator Kenny Rodgers charged $4,412.53 for the investigation.

Blakemore said he did not ask Toomey why he wanted the information, but assumed it was to help clients make a decision on whether they should make contributions in particular races.

"It's part of my business to handicap races and give them information," Blakemore said.

Danburg and Duncan are among the losing candidates who are suing TRMPAC, seeking damages by accusing the committee of violating state campaign law.

That lawsuit was filed almost immediately after the election. I didn't think much of its chances then, but I'll be happy to be proven wrong.

For more background, read this Texas Observer piece, which seems to have anticipated most of the action that has occurred recently.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 26, 2004 to Scandalized! | TrackBack