It's been a bad couple of weeks for TRMPAC, as they've had a couple of setbacks in the civil suit against them. First, Trevor Potter, a "lifelong Republican and former commissioner and chair of the Federal Election Commission" will testify for the plaintiffs against TRMPAC.
The lawsuit – a civil spin-off of an ongoing criminal probe touched off by the 2002 election upset – will be heard in a nonjury trial that begins Feb. 28. TRMPAC attorneys had sought to have Potter eliminated from the plaintiffs' witness lineup, but a ruling last week cleared the way for his testimony. The pretrial setback for TRMPAC followed arguments before Senior Retired State District Judge Joe Hart. Lawyers for the TRMPAC defendants asserted that Potter's legal expertise on federal election matters doesn't qualify him as an authority on the Texas Election Code. In fact, said attorney Terry Scarborough, referring to a transcript of Potter's Jan. 11 deposition, Potter "is guilty of not even knowing the basic definition of a campaign contribution in Texas." (Of course, TRMPAC's apparently ingenious redefinition of Texas campaign finance law is exactly what is at issue in the lawsuit.) Scarborough represents TRMPAC campaign treasurer Bill Ceverha. Attorney Mike Thompson Jr. also presented arguments on behalf of client John Colyandro.
Plaintiffs' attorney Joe Crews said Potter's experience, which includes drafting the new McCain-Feingold law on campaign finance, is so vast, "I don't know how anyone can be more qualified." Potter will be called on to bolster the lawsuit's claims that the TRMPAC defendants violated campaign finance laws by illegally soliciting or failing to disclose corporate and noncorporate contributions.
As a California phone bank was urging a select group of Texans to vote for Republican legislative candidates during the final days of the 2002 election, Texas Association of Business President Bill Hammond was touting those candidates in a letter mailed to the same likely GOP voters.
It was no coincidence that the phone calls and Hammond's letter targeted the same list, created with corporate money from Texans for a Republican Majority, a political committee led by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land.