[Mb-civic]      32 Felony Indictments Returned in DeLay Case

Michael Butler michael at michaelbutler.com
Wed Sep 22 16:02:09 PDT 2004

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    32 Felony Indictments Returned in DeLay Case
    By Jay Root and John Moritz
    Star-Telegram Austin Bureau

     Tuesday 21 September 2004

     AUSTIN - A Travis County grand jury returned 32 indictments in the 2002
Republican fund-raising investigation Tuesday, alleging felony election code
violations against a top aide to U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay,
R-Sugar Land, the head of a political group DeLay founded and eight
corporations that provided money for their activities.

     Among the companies indicted on grounds that corporate money was
illegally funneled into the 2002 legislative elections were Sears and
Roebuck, Westar Energy Inc., Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Bacardi

     Three people were indicted: John Colyandro, former executive director
of Texans for a Republican Majority, a group DeLay founded; Warren RoBold, a
DeLay fund-raiser; and Jim Ellis, a top DeLay political aide.

     An attorney for DeLay, Steve Brittain, said the congressman was
cooperating fully with the investigation spearheaded by Travis County
District Attorney Ronnie Earle. But Brittain raised questions about the
timing of the indictments, issued just a few weeks before the 2004
elections. "All of these people felt very comfortable that they were not
violating the law, that they were following the rules as they understood
them," Brittain said. "On behalf of Congressman DeLay, we agree, we don't
believe that anyone intentionally violated the law."

     Earle, a Democrat, said the indictments stem from a 22-month
investigation his office made into Republican fund raising on behalf of
Texas House candidates during the 2002 election cycle. He said the
investigation will continue after the present grand jury's term expires on
Sept. 30.

     "Texas law makes it a felony to both give and receive political
contributions from corporations and labor unions," Earle said during an
afternoon news conference. "In the fall of 2002, after the Texas Association
of Business boasted that it had engaged in the wholesale flaunting of that
law, this office began its investigation."

     It was not immediately clear whether Earle intends to seek additional
indictments, but he did say that more work remains to be done.

     Republicans have suggested that Earle's investigation was politically
motivated, and at one point GOP Gov. Rick Perry suggested that the district
attorney was on a "witch hunt."

     But speaking with reporters before the indictments were unveiled, Perry
said that he, like most Texans, supports "the grand jury system."



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