After he messed with Texas, DeLay aide wants to stay away?
Wednesday, April 7, 2004
How ungrateful of Jim Ellis not to want to return to Texas after he spent so much time here helping elect Republican legislators and redrawing the state's congressional election map.
Ellis, a key staff member for U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, and one of the authors of the lobbying group Texans for a Republican Majority, now says he has no interests in Texas. No interests, after he was here so often and did so much, all of it with ample forethought and plenty of malice toward Democrats? Please.
Ellis is arguing his lack of material ties to Texas because he wants to avoid a lawsuit by some of the Democrats he helped unhorse during the 2002 election. It's up to a judge to decide if someone has enough standing in the state to be sued here.
Ellis' lawyer, J.D. Pauerstein, argues that drawing him into the Democrats' suit is tantamount to suing Ellis in Florida because he went fishing there. But Ellis wouldn't face a civil suit or possibly a criminal grand jury visit if he had been in Texas to fish instead of contorting the state in a massive redistricting effort to add to DeLay's power in Washington.
Democrats have argued that Texans for a Republican Majority violated state campaign laws by spending corporate money to benefit political candidates. That same charge is also being investigated by Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle.
The argument that Ellis wasn't in Texas enough to warrant his being subject to a lawsuit is risible. Republicans working with Ellis have testified in previous depositions that he was here frequently -- not fishing, but deciding which candidates to target in the 2002 election and working closely with the redistricting committee leadership.
Ellis was in the state for months during the the redistricting battle, which was played out most of last year in one regular and three special legislative sessions. Ellis said he met with the House sponsor of the redistricting bill, state Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, close to 50 times.
Ellis was the conduit for information from DeLay to the legislators doing his bidding. King said Ellis was in Texas weekly early in the redistricting battle then several times a week during the summer. And now he doesn't want to return to face the music?
Ellis should readily, and happily, acknowledge his ties to the Lone Star State over the past two years. They're certainly extensive enough. The GOP is quite proud of what the party accomplished with Ellis' help, through the Texans for a Republican Majority and the Texas Association of Business.
The jurisdictional challenge looks like nothing more than another of the stalling tactics that lawyers for the lobbying group and the Texas Association of Business have used to delay the criminal investigation and civil suit for more than a year. By arguing his standing to be sued, Ellis can delay the suit for possibly another year.
Earle complained last week about the business group's latest tactic: seeking mountains of e-mail to try to find leaks from the district attorney's office. And that after the TAB's attorneys fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent submitting evidence to the grand jury.
It has been a long, ugly fight to try to determine whether the Republican lobbyists violated state law, and it just got longer. But the truth should be determined, no matter how mightily the GOP lobbyists resist.