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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Tom DeLay's TRMPAC Indicted for Illegal Fundraising

As Hilary Hylton of Reuters reports in The Washington Post, three men with close connections to U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay were indicted for illegal fundraising today along with eight corporations. The men all served as either fundraisers or directors for Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee (TRMPAC), a PAC formed by DeLay to help Republicans take control of the Texas legislature.

The counts against the men, ranging from money laundering to illegal fundraising of over , allege that through TRMPAC, the men gave $190,000 in corporate money to the Republican National State Elections Committee, which then gave it to seven candidates for the Texas legislature, a violation of Texas' prohibition against corporate contributions for elections.

The war of words in the media has begun in earnest, with DeLay saying the prosecution is political in nature, and the prosecutor, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, saying:
What has emerged is the outline of an effort to use corporate contributions to
control representative democracy in Texas.

Earle also stated that the investigation is ongoing.

Lawyers for the indicted men have claimed that the corporate money was used for administrative purposes only, and was therefore not subject to the Texas ban against giving corporate money to candidates. It is not clear if such an exemption exists under Texas law, nor whether if so it will be available to the corporations or individuals indicted.

What is clear is that Texans have it right when it comes to banning corporations from using their wealth to influence elections. Democracy is the rule of the people, not of the corporation. More states across the union could learn from Texas' example.

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