Tom DeLay Accused of Criminal Conspiracy by Texas Grand Jury

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Tom DeLay Accused of Criminal Conspiracy by Texas Grand Jury

Courtney Mabeus – 2005-10-03

A Texas grand jury Wednesday indicted House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) for criminal conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme to launder corporate money from his Texas-based political action committee through the Republican National Committee back to state candidates for public office.

DeLay, who has been accused of other ethics violations in recent months, asserted his innocence and claimed the prosecution was politically motivated by a personal vendetta by Austin District Attorney Ronnie Earle, a Democrat. Following a rule adopted by the Republicans earlier in the year regarding indicted party leaders, DeLay stepped down from his leadership post.

Two political associates, John D. Colyandro, who formerly directed his Texans for a Republican Majority PAC, and James W. Ellis, who directs DeLay’s national PAC, Americans for a Republican Majority, were indicted with him, according to court records.

Texas state law prohibits the use of corporate contributions to state candidates. DeLay is accused of being part of a scheme to funnel $190,000 in corporate contributions through the RNC to seven state legislative candidates in September 2002.

Some of that corporate money came from six companies, according to the indictment, including $50,000 from Diversified Collection Services, Inc., $25,000 from Sears, Roebuck and Co., $25,000 from Williams Companies, Inc., $10,000 from Cornell Companies, Inc., $20,000 from Bacardi U.S.A. and $25,000 from Questerra Corporation.

Five of those companies have contributed to DeLay or to ARMPAC between 1989 and 2005, according to Federal Election Commission records. Questerra CEO Tim Milovich and his wife, Katherine, contributed $11,450. Williams’ PAC contributed $8,500 between 1996 and 2004. Bacardi’s PAC contributed $2,500 to ARMPAC. Sears’ PAC contributed a total of $750 to DeLay. It has also contributed $17,000 to ARMPAC. Cornell’s PAC contributed $100.

Diversified Collection Services has not contributed to DeLay.

DeLay has long counted on the loyalty of his GOP colleagues, which he has cultivated, in part, by providing financial assistance to the campaigns of Republican candidates.

Since 1989, ARMPAC and DeLay’s candidate committee have contributed more than $5.4 million to federal candidates, party committees and leadership PACs, according to FEC data released August 15. More than $2.6 million of that total was contributed to current members and nearly all of those contributions have gone to GOP members and candidates.

DeLay topped all other members of Congress in the 2004 election cycle with more than $1.1 million in contributions to federal candidates, parties and leadership PACs from ARMPAC and his campaign committee.

ARMPAC has contributed $240,701 to 26 GOP House members so far in 2005, according to FEC records.

If convicted, DeLay could face a sentence of two years and a fine of $10,000, according to Texas law.

The corporate money allegedly funneled to state candidates through the Republican party committee is said to have helped give the Texas GOP control of the state House for the first time in 130 years. This was critical to the Republicans’ controversial redistricting effort in 2003 designed to increase the number of safe Republican congressional districts in the state.

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