Amazing, isn't it how one man can be responsible for so many coincidences?
Former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) met for at least 30 minutes with the top fundraiser of his Texas political action committee on Oct. 2, 2002, the same day that the Republican National Committee in Washington set in motion a series of financial transactions at the heart of the money-laundering and conspiracy case against DeLay.
During the meeting at his Capitol office, DeLay conferred with James W. Ellis, the head of his principal fundraising committee in Washington and his chief fundraiser in Texas. Ellis had earlier given the Republican National Committee a check for $190,000 drawn mostly from corporate contributions. The same day as the meeting, the RNC ordered $190,000 worth of checks sent to seven Republican legislative candidates in Texas.
DeLay and Ellis have so far given slightly different accounts of the substance of their discussion. Ellis's attorney, Jonathan D. Pauerstein, said that Ellis recalls that their Oct. 2 discussion did not concern or involve Texas or Texas candidates. But DeLay, interviewed last weekend on "Fox News Sunday," said that during a "scheduling meeting" with Ellis in October, Ellis said while they were leaving his office that "by the way, we sent money" to Washington.
DeLay's lead attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said in an interview this week that "there is no question that at some point Ellis told him," but that DeLay does not recall the precise timing. DeGuerin said "it could have been that day" -- Oct. 2, the day the same arm of the RNC began to process the seven checks for printing two days later, on Oct. 4.
But DeGuerin said that this does not mean DeLay was "the one who made those decisions" about collecting the funds, sending them to Washington and returning the same total amount to candidates in Texas. "It wasn't his role or his authority" because DeLay was not involved in the day-to-day operations of the committee.
Ellis, who still directs DeLay's Washington-based Americans for a Republican Majority political action committee (ARMPAC), "is the kind of guy who would say, 'I did this, how about that?' " according to DeGuerin. DeLay may have responded, DeGuerin said, by saying, "Hey, that's great," but "that does not make him a part of the agreement to do that."
Even more amusing is the attempt by DeLay to claim that Ronnie Earle broke the same law he did. No stone, no matter how ludicrous, will be left unturned.
Meanwhile, the Chron is following the shifting winds of DeLay's explanations.
DeLay and his lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, have changed their stories this week about what DeLay knew about the money and when.
DeLay told talk show host Rush Limbaugh that in August, he mistakenly told prosecutors he knew about the TRMPAC check before it was sent to the Republican National Committee. He said Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle would not allow him to change his statement.
"I misspoke one sentence — one sentence — and they have based all of this on one sentence," DeLay said during a radio interview with Limbaugh on Tuesday. "They think that before the (TRMPAC) check was cut and sent to the national committee that I approved this check. I didn't know this went on until well after it happened."
On the same day, DeGuerin told the Houston Chronicle that DeLay likely found out about the check at an 10:15 a.m. Oct. 2, 2002, meeting with Ellis. DeGuerin said what DeLay learned was informational and did not put him into a decision-making process.
"The bottom line is DeLay didn't have any decision to make, and he didn't make any decision. He might have been informed about it, but it was kind of as, 'Hey, I got this done,' and he might have said, 'Sure, that's great,' " DeGuerin said.
But on Thursday, DeGuerin told the Chronicle that Ellis and DeLay did not talk about the TRMPAC donation to the RNC during that meeting. He said DeLay remembers Ellis telling him about it at a later meeting. DeGuerin said he clarified what happened after talking to DeLay and Ellis' lawyer.
"He has a recollection ... as he was leaving the scheduling meeting of Ellis simply saying, 'We've sent $190,000 up from TRMPAC.' And that was it," DeGuerin said.
Unfortunately for DeLay and his defenders, politics are not at the center of the charges. It is DeLay’s conduct.
Yesterday down in Washington, D.C., they shut down Pennsylvania Avenue due to a suspicious package. Turned out it was a bag of laundered cash for Tom DeLay.