April 13, 2005
The latest TRMPAC casualty - Beverly Woolley

Rep. Beverly Woolley, come on down! You are our next contestant on The Price (For Getting Favorable Legislation) Is Right!

A Houston legislator who chairs the committee that sets bills for House debate once promised a gambling promoter that she would get fellow lawmakers to listen to his pitch for a legalized video lottery if he would contribute money to a Republican effort to win control of the Texas House.

A lawyer for state Rep. Beverly Woolley, R-Houston, said her promise was nothing more than politics as usual and violated no state laws, but a public interest advocate said it "smells of influence peddling."

The new revelations are contained in evidence in a recent civil lawsuit involving Texans for a Republican Majority. They also surface as a House committee prepares to start hearing testimony today on whether video lotteries, VLTs, in Texas should be legalized at horse-racing tracks. No action is expected.

House Speaker Tom Craddick last week said he believes there will be a "big push" to legalize video lotteries as the Legislature looks for ways to finance the state's budget. The state has predicted it could earn $1.5 billion a year from video lottery terminals, also known as video slot machines.

But the issue was almost unheard of in 2002 as Woolley raised money for Texans for a Republican Majority, TRMPAC. Woolley is chairwoman of the House Calendars Committee, which controls when the House debates specific bills.

Her testimony in a deposition in a lawsuit brought by losing Democratic House candidates against TRMPAC treasurer Bill Ceverha shows she did not understand what VLTs were when she first discussed them with Charles Hurwitz, head of Maxxam Inc., owner of the Sam Houston Race Park.

Three items:

1. We first heard of the Woolley-TRMPAC connection last year. The continued stream of documents from the various lawsuits against TRMPAC has added quite a bit to our overall body of knowledge, has it not?

2. If there's an expansion of legalized gambling in the state of Texas, it's because Republicans want it. Tina Benkiser can yell and scream all she wants, it's her team that'll be the ones to push it through.

3. I can't begin to tell you how hard it was to make it this far without using some lame joke based on the song Wooly Bully. The sacrifices I make for this blog sometimes, I swear.

UPDATE: In the Pink yields to Woolley Bully temptation faster than I do.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 13, 2005 to Scandalized! | TrackBack

Rusty Hardin may have it right - taking money in exchange for access to politicians is in the finest traditions of our Great State of Texas. It is also completely corrupt and immoral - but then again, the rules don't normally apply to Republicans.

Posted by: Dennis on April 13, 2005 4:13 PM