Monday, February 28, 2005

DeLay Me Down

This is going to be interesting to see how this turns out. It is tough for me to believe that DeLay had no hand in this incident (and many more).

DeLay PAC Lawsuit Goes to Trial in Texas

By JIM VERTUNO, Associated Press Writer

AUSTIN, Texas - Testimony began Monday in a case brought by five Democrats who allege a political action committee started by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay improperly spent about $600,000 in corporate contributions to unseat them.

Plaintiffs' attorneys displayed in court e-mails and handwritten notes made by principals of Texans for a Republican Majority that they said proves corporate money was improperly spent.

A lawyer for the treasurer of Texans for a Republican Majority political action committee denied that.

Texas law bans the use of corporate money to influence the outcome of an election but allows its use for administrative costs for political committees, such as rent or utility bills.

Republicans swept to complete power in state government in 2002 when the GOP seized majority control of the Texas House for the first time since the 1870s.

DeLay has not been accused of any wrongdoing and has congressional immunity from being forced to testify. But evidence presented in the civil case could affect an ongoing criminal investigation that has resulted in indictments against three top fund-raisers for DeLay.

Last year, the House ethics committee deferred action on investigating any role played by DeLay in the corporate campaign donation controversy.

The trial before state District Judge Joe Hart is expected to last a week.

Among the witnesses subpoenaed to testify are Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick, who was swept to power by the GOP majority, and Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business, the state's largest business lobby. Neither is a defendant in the lawsuit.

Craddick is not expected to appear in court himself. Hammond, the Texas Association of Business president, once boasted that his group had spent $1.9 million to support Republican candidates in 2002 legislative campaigns.

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