March 24, 2004
DeLay supported TTM

Quelle surprise: Tom DeLay gave PAC money to Texans for True Mobility.

Two political action committees controlled by DeLay gave $30,000 to Texans for True Mobility, which spearheaded a high-dollar effort against Metro's proposal to expand its light rail beyond the Main Street line.

DeLay's donations came as Texans for True Mobility was scrambling to maintain an advertising campaign a day before the Nov. 4 referendum, which passed narrowly.

Campaign finance reports indicate that on Nov. 3, DeLay's congressional campaign committee and his Americans for a Republican Majority each donated $15,000 to Texans for True Mobility.

Well, the good news is that since the referendum passed, that was all a waste of money for DeLay. In that sense, I wish he'd given more.

Metro board Chairman David Wolff said he does not believe DeLay's contributions raise questions about his commitment to get money for Houston rail.

"I think that he has come a long way, and I look forward to working with him," Wolff said. "He wanted there to be a referendum.

"He said he would respect the wishes of the voters. Now, they have spoken and I believe he will honor what they said. I have no reason to believe otherwise."

You have way more faith than I do, but I guess you pretty much have to play nice. Talk to me again in a year and we'll see how it goes.

Harris County Democratic Party Chairman Gerry Birnberg said he is not surprised that DeLay and Americans for a Republican Majority would spend money to defeat the rail referendum. "It looks like Congressman DeLay was fully committed to defeat rail," he said.

But Birnberg said the disclosure of the contributions is further evidence that he and two other plaintiffs should move forward with a lawsuit they filed to force Texans for True Mobility to disclose the names of its donors.

The civil suit alleges that Texans for True Mobility broke the law when it concealed the identity of contributors who underwrote advertisements bashing Metro's transit expansion plan. The lawsuit seeks damages of twice the amount of money the group collected.

The DeLay-related donations showed up in his PACs' required financial disclosure documents, filed earlier this year.

"DeLay has ultimately had to disclose that he contributed to the anti-rail campaign, but that information is learned long after the election," Birnberg said. "Who are the other people who contributed to that effort?"

Yep. I believe that above a certain amount - say, $250 or $500 - there should be no such thing as an anonymous political donation, and that all donations should be fully disclosed before whatever election it is that they're being used for. Given that our idiot DA bought TTM's baloney about it being an "educational" organization and thus exempt from normal campaign rules, I don't expect to see this happen any time soon.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 24, 2004 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack

Didn't I just read an article about cars crashing into light rail trains in Houston? Seriously though, I take it that Texans for True Mobility is a oil & auto company supported thing? It reminds me about the stories I read about the auto companies getting together with Standard Oil in the early 20th century to dismantle the trolly systems in major cities. The front company was buying up the trolly car systems, tearing them down, and replacing them with bus type lines. The whole thing blew up but never amounted to any penalties for the oil/auto companies. We will never be able to get past the automobile. I for one, would much rather take a train everyday to work. My cousin lives in Chicago and takes one everyday. Sure he pays a little more to live there, but he doesn't make car payments or insurance payments. I think that one day soon, however, people will get sick of spending half their lives in traffic. Then we might be able to progress past this.

Posted by: sean on March 24, 2004 7:23 AM

Actually, TTM is more controlled by the road construction businesses. There's only so much transportation money out there, and what doesn't go to rail usually goes to roads, and vice versa.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on March 24, 2004 8:15 AM

Ah, who could forget the road construction lobby? That makes sense. Why save the ozone layer when there's concrete to lay?

Posted by: sean on March 24, 2004 2:11 PM