August 09, 2007
In the matter of Corwin Teltschik

This is very interesting:

In fallout from the Tom DeLay ARMPAC and Jack Abramoff scandals, an attorney claims the Washington, D.C., law office of Williams and Jensen libeled him and put his law license at risk by making repeated false statements about him in FEC filings, conceding, without his knowledge or consent, that he "had violated various federal election laws - some of which are felonies." Plaintiff Corwin Teltschik claims Christine DeLay recruited him in 1995 to be treasurer of ARMPAC, DeLay's political action committee. He says he protested his ignorance of federal campaign laws, but was assured that Williams and Jensen would handle that; they just needed a lawyer in Houston. In succeeding years, he says, Williams and Jensen repeatedly changed ARMPAC's organizational status in FEC filings, without his knowledge. He claims they conceded for him, without his knowledge or consent, that he may have committed felonies "acting in his official capacity as treasurer of ARMPAC," though he never had the power to sign checks for ARMPAC and did not even know he had been named in the FEC complaint. And he claims Williams and Jensen forged his electronic signature on legal documents. One of the ARMPAC accounts at issue was linked to Abramoff; Teltschick says he had no knowledge of it and could not sign checks for it. He demands punitive damages. He is represented in Federal Court by Reginald McKamie of Houston.

Here's the full complaint (PDF) for the actual lawyers in my audience. The Tex Parte blog noticed this, and it was picked up from there by the Anti-Corruption Republican, who was moved to wonder who did have the authority to write checks for ARMPAC. After reading the complaint, he was able to answer that question.

The most puzzling part of the lawsuit is paragraph 29 on pages 13-14:

Also contained within the documents that [Williams & Jenson Managing Partner Robert] Martinez faxed to Plaintiff [Corwin Teltschik] was an email that purports to be from James W. Ellis, "Executive Director Americans for a Republican Majority - ARMPAC", dated April 20, 2004 and directed to [former Williams & Jenson attorney and former ARMPAC assistant treasurer Barbara Wixon] Bonfiglio. By this email, Ellis requested Bonfiglio to adjust the payroll figures to reflect the following monthly amounts: Jim Ellis - $9,000; Chris Perkins - $5,500; and Dani DeLay Ferro - $4,500. Ellis also requested some retroactive payments to the same individuals, to be handled via a lump sum payment. Plaintiff was not aware of these payments until November, 2006, and might not have approved same in the first instance.

My question from yesterday has been answered. Barbara Wixon Bonfiglio wrote checks for ARMPAC. I also find it highly unusual that Corwin Teltschik specifically mentions very few checks in his lawsuit. But Mr. Teltschik specifically refers to a check from ARMPAC to Dani DeLay Ferro and immediately suggests that he might not have approved the check if he had known about it. That tells me that Mr. Teltschik believes the check to Dani DeLay Ferro was improper in some way. Could the "retroactive" "payroll" payments have been a way to convert ARMPAC assets into the personal assets of Jim Ellis, Chris Perkins and Dani DeLay Ferro? Trust me, this isn't the last we've heard of this matter.

Also notice the timing of Mr. Teltschik's discovery of the check to Dani DeLay Ferro. It was November 2006, just nine months ago. The investigation into suspicious payments from ARMPAC to DeLay family members including Dani DeLay Ferro was well underway by then. I'm betting that Mr. Teltschik learned of the check to Dani DeLay Ferro when the Justice Department asked him about it. I don't think it is unreasonable to suggest that Mr. Teltschik is unhappy about that check. Mr. Teltschik is obviously disgruntled, and if he's telling the truth, his disgruntlement is justified. I just wonder how cooperative he's been with the Justice Department -- if he knows anything at all.

Okay, so here's the bottom line. Teltschik is saying that the firm of Williams & Jensen, in the course of settling a case with the FEC, stated that he had "violated various federal election laws - some of which laws are felonies". Such an admission would, among other things, put his law license at risk. Since he claims he never had the authority to write any checks, he can't have done what they say he did. (He also says that the firm didn't forward him the notices that the FEC had sent to them for him, nor did they file a response on his behalf.)

All this raises two obvious questions. For one, who was Williams & Jensen protecting when they pinned the blame for these FEC complaints on Teltschik? I've never heard of Barbara Wixon Bonfiglio, so I'm assuming that one way or another, there's a bigger fish out there whose interests were served by this alleged deception. And two, what might the FEC have learned had they been given the correct facts in this case? Methinks this will bear watching.

Finally, on a moderately trivial note, Reginald McKamie was the Democratic opponent to Harris County DA Chuck Rosenthal in 2004. This case seems a bit out of his firm's normal areas of practice, but I could be wrong about that. Just thought I'd mention it since I recognized the name.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 09, 2007 to Scandalized!

I've also never heard of Barbara Wixon Bonfiglio, but Teltschik's complaint alleges she works for Pfizer, Inc. Who arranged for her to get the job at Pfizer after ARMPAC collapsed?

TPM Muckraker has more on her, as does Will Bunch. It looks like she was tied to Rick Santorum, Jerry Lewis (the Congressman, not the comedian), and Richard Pombo. And she served as treasurer for DeLay's fake charity.

Posted by: Kenneth Fair on August 9, 2007 11:15 PM