Grand Jury Indicts Delay's Committee

9-8-05 - A Travis County grand jury has indicted Texans for a Republican Majority, a committee formed by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, along with the Texas Association of Business in connection with 2002 campaign contributions.

The five felony indictments against the two groups were made public Thursday. Neither DeLay nor any individuals with the business group has been charged with wrongdoing.

The charge against Texans for a Republican Majority, known as TRMPAC, alleged the committee illegally accepted a political contribution of $100,000 from the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care.

Four indictments against the Texas Association of Business include charges of unlawful political advertising, unlawful contributions to a political committee and unlawful expenditures such as those to a graphics company and political candidates.

The contributions to the 21 Texas House candidates helped Republicans gain a majority in the chamber in the 2002 election. Speaker Tom Craddick then became the first Republican to lead the House since Reconstruction.

Craddick has been subpoenaed in the investigation and questioned about acting as middleman in delivering the $100,000 check from the nursing home group to Texans for Republican Majority. Craddick has not been accused of illegal activity.

Defense attorney Roy Minton, who represents the Texas Association of Business, received copies of the indictments against it Thursday morning, he said.

Minton said he went with TAB president Bill Hammond to a meeting with prosecutors on Wednesday to try to head off criminal charges against the organization or its officers.

The statewide business group, which is influential at the Texas Capitol, spent about $1.7 million in corporate money for mailings in 2002. The group said it was trying to educate voters on issues, which is legal, not advocate the election or defeat of any candidates.

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has been investigating whether the contributions violate state bans against corporate money being spent directly on campaign activities.

The grand jury last fall indicted three officials with Texans for a Republican Majority. John Colyandro of Austin and Jim Ellis of Washington, D.C., each were accused of one count of money laundering. Colyandro also faces 13 counts of unlawful acceptance of a corporate political contribution.

Washington fundraiser Warren Robold was indicted on charges of accepting or making corporate donations.

All are now awaiting trial.