Investigation of 2002 House races justifiedEditorial: March 1, 2004
Enough smoke is emanating from some 2002 campaigns for the Texas House to justify the investigation by Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, which has led to grand jury subpoenas of records from numerous GOP candidates and political committees.
The most serious questions arise from the activities of Texans for a Republican Majority, known as TRMPAC.
U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay founded the political action committee, which raised $1.5 million for the 2002 elections, including $600,000 from corporate sources, the Express-News reported.
While corporate funds can be used for PAC administrative costs, it is illegal to funnel corporate dollars into political campaigns in Texas.
Fred Lewis, head of the reform group Campaigns for People, recently noted that the almost 100-year-old constitutional prohibition is designed to prevent corporations from controlling campaigns with their huge financial clout.
The Dallas Morning News reported that TRMPAC sent $190,000 from corporate donors to the Republican National Committee, and a short time later the RNC contributed exactly $190,000 to seven Texas House candidates.
Under the direction of Earle, a Democrat, a grand jury also is investigating the use of corporate contributions raised by the Texas Association of Business to elect House members.
Republican leaders are accusing Earle of engaging in a partisan agenda, but enough questions have arisen from campaign reports to make the probe necessary.
Texas voters deserve to know whether corporate funds were improperly funneled into the 2002 effort to win a GOP majority in the Texas House.