The TRMPAC lawsuit wrapped up yesterday as both sides made their closing arguments. It's in the hands of the judge now, and apparently he'll take two to six weeks to hand down his decision. Some brief recaps:
The Chron notes the specter of DeLay and Craddick:
Republican lawyer Terry Scarborough went out of his way in his closing arguments to distance DeLay and Craddick from the proceedings.
Scarborough told reporters afterward that a week of testimony never once linked the pair with establishing or running TRMPAC.
"This trial will tell you Tom DeLay wasn't manipulating the election through TRMPAC," he said. "Tom DeLay's involvement in TRMPAC would die of loneliness in a thimble."
Cris Feldman, a lawyer for the Democrats, said the trial may not have been about DeLay, but that there was a great deal of evidence that TRMPAC was born out of DeLay's political operation.
"Those exhibits in there ... show Tom DeLay, at his direction, had his operatives come down here and set up Texans for a Republican Majority," Feldman said. "These are his people. Tom DeLay's daughter was on the soft, corporate money payroll. And she sent an e-mail down here talking about our people are coming down to Texas."
Attorneys for the Democratic plantiffs said TRMPAC used $530,000 in corporate donations to pay for polls, direct mail and political consultants. They argued that spending corporate money that way was a violation of state election laws.
Attorneys said TRMPAC also didn't report that $530,000 amount to the Texas Ethics Commission.
"This is about a political committee, taking corporate contributions and paying for political work," plaintiffs' attorney Cris Feldman said.
According to Texas election law, it's illegal for corporations to give money to a political candidate.
But Ceverha's attorneys argued TRMPAC's corporate donations never went directly to Texas House candidates. They said their corporate money was used to pay for polls and research that focused on state-wide issues.
"I challenged the plantiffs before, during and after the trial, to show evidence that corporate money went to their opponents in their race ... they failed to do that," Ceverha's attorney Terry Scarborough said.
Chris Feldman outlined the plaintiff’s case with a powerpoint that methodically established the amount and type of political activity TRMPAC conducted with illegal corporate money. It built off his opening statment and reminded the court of the evidence that had been presented.
Next Matt Slimp spoke for the defense, and I gotta hand it to them for sticking to their guns. When I’m talking out of my ass and someone who knows what they’re talking about, like say Trevor Potter, tells me I’m a dummie, I usually pipe down and slink off. Not our Matt Slimp, he was as shameless as TAB lawyer Andy Taylor on his best day. Splitting hairs and muddling thru technical details wasn’t enough for Slimp – he tried to add some emotional punch and at one point emitted a high choking sound that might have been laughter. I almost cried when he claimed that the experience had been so hard on Ceverha that he would never be a Treasurer for a PAC again. What a tragedy.
Scarborough, who’s a really compelling court room speaker, went next for the defense and kind of wigged out on Ann Kitchen. He was going on about how the plaintiffs weren’t even in the court room and then started pointing her out and talking about how successful and bright she was before turning on her. He got so out of control that the judge had to order him to address his points to the court. I’m not sure what Scarborough was trying to do with that.
Then Dave Richards closed out for the plaintiffs, mostly addressing legal points on the damages and eligibility of the plaintiffs to sue.
Watching the proceedings in civil court this week was a member of the Travis County district attorney's office. The civil case parallels a criminal suit filed by the district attorney's office against DeLay associates John Colyandro, Jim Ellis and Warren RoBold.