House Speaker Tom Craddick's lawyer says he wasn't a bagman for TRMPAC, though someone in his office may have been.
A lawyer for Speaker Tom Craddick said Monday that his client never personally delivered campaign checks to GOP House candidates on behalf of railroad lobbyists or the Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee.
Instead, criminal defense lawyer Roy Minton said, Craddick's campaign workers mailed the checks or sent them by overnight delivery to the Republican campaigns after Union Pacific and the GOP committee sent money to Craddick's Midland office.
"Tom never delivered anything to anybody other than (through) his office," Minton said.
The explanation, in response to questions from the Austin American-Statesman, contradicts reports from officials with both groups. It also is different from the initial response given by Craddick's press secretary, who never disputed that Craddick delivered the checks but stated that the checks were not delivered in return for votes from House members who elect the speaker.
Craddick's explanation raises as many questions as it answers. For example, why didn't campaign donors just send their checks directly to the candidates, and did Craddick's campaign routinely reroute money from other groups?
"I can't get anybody to admit to me it was going on routinely," Minton said. "I don't think there was any question checks came into the campaign and they sent them back out."
He said he could only speculate on why the Craddick campaign wanted to deliver the money to House candidates: "Someone thought it might have been good for it (the money) to go out from Craddick's office."
Minton said Craddick was so busy toward the end of the 2002 election than he doesn't remember even discussing the $152,000 with his staff.
"My youngest grandchild knows more about it than Tom does," Minton said.
He added that he was unable to find one note or letter from Craddick that would have been included with the redistributed money.