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Judge Rules in DeLay PAC Case

By June 1, 2005

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Texas District Judge Joe Hart (Austin) ruled last week that a political action committee (PAC) established by US House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom DeLay was guilty of failing to report $600,000 in contributions, primarily from corporations. Since 1905, Texas law has explicitly prohibited corporate or union donations to political campaigns.

Five Democrats who lost elections in 2002 filed suit against the PAC, Texans for a Republican Majority (TRM-PAC). The PAC helped Republicans gain control over the legislature for the first time since the Civil War.

DeLay was not a party to this suit; however, his actions related to TRM-PAC have been under investigation by the Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle (Austin-D) since January 2003. Three men with ties to DeLay have been indicted, as have eight corporations. DeLay was rebuked by the House Ethics Committee in 2004 for his role in obtaining donations for the PAC from Reliant.

Earle was criticized in May for speaking at a Democratic fundraiser, where he referenced the investigation:
This case is not just about Tom DeLay. If it isn't this Tom DeLay, it'll be another one, just like one bully replaces the one before. This is a structural problem involving the combination of money and power. Money brings power and power corrupts.
Even the Austin American-Statesman said Earle's words weren't "a good idea."
But in context, the yelling and screaming about it is a mid-size tempest in a tiny teapot. Earle called DeLay a bully, which is not an original observation. Nor is being a bully a felony offense in Texas. (If it were, we'd see some real prison overcrowding)... Most likely, he'll keep hammering away at the central thesis of his speech -- the dangers posed to democracy by big money donors, especially corporations.
DeLay created TRM-PAC on 5 September 2001; it was modeled after his Amerians for a Republican Majority PAC (ARM-PAC), which supports conservatives who are running for Congress.

In 2003, The Texas Observer noted that
According to IRS documents, TRM received $1.5 million in contributions and spent $1.4 million during the 2002 election cycle. Thatís nearly double what TRM told the state ethics commission it raised and spent, even though the Austin-based TRM was actively involved in Texas campaigns and bound by state disclosure laws... Of the $751,285 in contributions TRM didnít report to the state, at least $602,300 (80 percent) was corporate money.
See Houston Chronicle, MSNBC Texas Observer (2005) and Texas Observer (2003) ; MyWestTexas.com


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