July 15, 2004
DeLay documents donations

Tom DeLay is disputing the allegations that Enron money went to TRMPAC as part of the grand re-redistricting scheme (see here).

DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority deposited $25,000 from Enron on Nov. 7, 2001, according to documents provided by DeLay's office Wednesday.

DeLay's office released the deposit slip to dispute a Houston Chronicle story Wednesday that said Enron money was used to help set up DeLay's Texas political committee, Texans for a Republican Majority.

The federal Securities and Exchange Commission launched its formal investigation into Enron's finances on Oct. 31, 2001.

Enron officials have declined to comment on political donations involving DeLay.

The Chronicle reported Wednesday that Enron apparently donated $50,000 to help DeLay's national PAC set up Texans for a Republican Majority. The committee helped Republicans win control of the Texas House and set the stage for DeLay's push to redraw the state's congressional districts.

The Chronicle based its report on the national PAC's filings with the Internal Revenue Service and an Enron e-mail from May 31, 2001, saying DeLay was asking for $100,000 in donations for Texas redistricting. The IRS filing showed that the PAC received $50,000 from Enron in the second half of 2001 and that it donated $50,000 in seed money to the Texas PAC.

Grella produced national PAC documents showing it received $25,000 from Enron on Aug. 2, 2001, and the second donation on Nov. 7. A $50,000 check to the Texas PAC was written on a Sun Trust Bank account on Sept. 25, 2001.

"The fact one came before and one came after the transfer, it totally undermines the premise of the story," Grella said.

First of all, the emails speak for themselves. Whether DeLay is ever indicted or convicted of actually using corporate money in state campaigns, there's really no question that he saw nothing wrong with it, the law notwithstanding. That's the premise of the story.

Second, the timing of the deposit slips is suggestive but not conclusive by any means. It's not like ARMPAC operates on a shoestring, so there's no reason it couldn't have floated the whole 50K to TRMPAC, even though only half of that amount had been received from Enron by the transfer date of September 25. They'll have to do better than that to convince me.

In related news, CREW and Common Cause are pushing for an outside counsel to take over the House ethics complaint in light of the revelation that 80% of the Republicans on the ethics committee are on DeLay's payroll. And Rep. Chris Bell has sent a letter to the ethics committee, reproduced beneath the More link, which brings up issues that have arisen since the complaint was filed, such as Enron, Westar, and Ed Bethune's conflict of interest.

July 14, 2004

Joel Hefley, Chairman

Committee on Standards of Official Conduct

2372 Rayburn HOB

Washington, DC 20515

Alan B. Mollohan, Ranking Member

Committee on Standards of Official Conduct

2302 Rayburn HOB

Washington, DC 20515


Dear Chairman Hefley and Ranking Member Mollohan:

I am writing not to amend my complaint but to inform the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct that Westar Energy commissioned a report which investigated its company’s 2002 plan to influence pending federal legislation by making political donations. This plan included a $25,000 donation made to Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Westar Energy voluntarily gave the report to the Federal Election Commission, and I urge the committee to request the report compiled by Mr. Tom Jenkins of O’Connor & Hannan law firm.

In 2002, Westar Energy conducted an internal probe of the company’s finances, headed by the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton, with the assistance of consultants from PriceWaterhouseCoopers. The report included allegations of corruption, sweetheart financial deals, unjust enrichment, fraud and a disinformation campaign by former Westar executive David Wittig.

After receiving the Debeviose & Plimpton report, Westar retained O’Connor & Hannan lawyer Jenkins as expert counsel to investigate the campaign finance issues raised in the initial report. Attorney Jenkins then conducted his own year-long probe into possible illegal political contributions which occurred during the tenure of former Westar executives, David Wittig and Douglas Lake.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has requested Mr. Jenkins’ report and any exhibits, attachments, or correspondence accompanying the report under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. §552, et. seq. I urge the committee to request the Jenkins’ report because I believe it will provide information necessary to determine whether the committee should investigate count one of the complaint.

I also wanted to inform you of other developments which may be germane to the complaint. In the July 12, 2004 article, “DeLay’s Corporate Fundraising Investigated,” The Washington Post wrote that, “Enron's top lobbyists in Washington advised the company chairman that then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was pressing for a $100,000 contribution to his political action committee, in addition to the $250,000 the company had already pledged to the Republican Party that year.”

The article added that “DeLay requested that the new donation come from ‘a combination of corporate and personal money from Enron's executives,’ with the understanding that it would be partly spent on ‘the redistricting effort in Texas,’ said the e-mail to Kenneth L. Lay from lobbyists Rick Shapiro and Linda Robertson.” An email sent to Former Enron CEO Ken Lay suggests that Representative DeLay personally requested corporate money from Enron. The Post also writes that this email “is one of at least a dozen documents” that directly suggests Representative DeLay directly solicited corporate monies for Texas state Republicans which is illegal under Texas state law.

It has also been brought to our attention that Representative DeLay's counsel, Ed Bethune, was the chief lobbyist for Burlington Northern, a corporation which could be implicated in the Travis County grand jury investigation. While I realize the rules of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct do not address conflicts of interest, I believe the committee should be apprised of this potential conflict as you move forward.


Chris Bell

Member of Congress

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 15, 2004 to Scandalized! | TrackBack