Tom DeLay may want a speedy trial for the money laundering charges on which he's been indicted, but that's not the case for his codefendants.
Two associates of Rep. Tom DeLay were released today on $10,000 personal bonds as their attorneys indicated they may split from their former boss on legal strategy.
Lawyers for defendants Jim Ellis and John Colyandro are pressing in Texas appeals courts to have their charges dismissed before going to trial. They made it clear today they would be willing to wait weeks or months for those appellate decisions.
DeLay's attorneys, however, have said they want his trial as soon as possible.
The posting of bonds came a day after it was learned that DeLay is being forced to turn over home and campaign phone records from the period in which he is charged with conspiring to launder illegal corporate donations. A later auto purchase also is being investigated.
Attorneys for Ellis and Colyandro asked State District Judge Bob Perkins today to rule on their motion seeking proof of an alleged document that detailed the names of Texas legislative candidates who were to receive contributions from the Republican National Committee. Defense attorneys questioned whether the document exists.
Perkins said he would consider the motion Nov. 8.
The judge also clarified Friday that the latest indictments against the men — alleging criminal conspiracy — were new charges and did not supercede previous indictments.
[A] lawyer for Ellis demanded in a pre-trial motion that prosecutors produce a list that Ellis is accused of giving the RNC showing how much money to give to seven Texas candidates.
"It doesn't exist," said Joe Turner, who represents Colyandro. "I asked the prosecutors for the list, and they say they don't have a copy."
According to the indictment, Ellis gave the list to RNC officials in Washington and two weeks later RNC gave $190,000 of political donations to the seven candidates.
Although a copy of the list might not have survived from 2002, RNC officials who testified before a Travis County grand jury could have told prosecutors about the list.
However, J.D. Pauerstein, a San Antonio lawyer representing Ellis, said RNC officials would be wrong to attribute the list to Ellis or Colyandro. He suggested that the RNC's field representative in Texas, Kevin Shuvalov, created the list, if it ever existed.
"Ellis was in Washington focused on congressional races," Pauerstein said. "He wouldn't have known which (state) candidates in Texas should be supported."
The Republican Party's $190,000 in donations to seven Texas politicians in 2002, which are at the center of criminal charges against Representative Tom DeLay, dwarfed all other contributions the national party made to state legislative races that year, federal records show.
The size of the donations -- five times more money than the national party gave to other state legislative candidates -- may bolster a prosecutor's accusations that DeLay channeled funds through the party to skirt a Texas law banning corporate contributions to political races, campaign-finance experts say.
The money was distributed on Oct. 4, 2002, to Republican legislative candidates backed by DeLay's political action committee, Federal Election Commission records show. That was about two weeks after the national party got $190,000 from the PAC. An indictment obtained by Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle charges that DeLay's PAC sent a list of the candidates to the party along with $190,000 raised from companies.
"It's just more evidence that these were earmarked contributions," said former Federal Election Commission general counsel Larry Noble, now executive director of the Washington- based Center for Responsive Politics, which studies political giving. "It just adds to the case if there was no history in giving money to state legislative candidates."
Notice a name missing in all this? That would be Warren RoBold, the professional fundraiser who was indicted with Ellis and Colyandro months ago. I've no idea at this point what his strategy is, but there's been some speculation that he's already flipped on DeLay. Given that the evidence against all three of these characters is likely to be the strongest in this case, one can only wonder when Ellis and Colyandro's interests will veer sufficiently away from DeLay's that a deal for them will start to look good.
On a side note, Ellis and Colyandro don't approve of the anti-Earle ads.
Pauerstein and attorney Joe Turner, who represents Colyandro, also said they had no part in television ads that a national conservative organization began running this week criticizing the prosecution of DeLay. Turner said the ads were inappropriate and should be stopped.
"If there was money out there for those kind of ads, we'd ask that it be given to the defense fund and not for some attack ads," Turner said. "We don't think that has any place over here."