DeLay mailing featured as evidence in fund caseBy R.G. RATCLIFFE March 2, 2005
AUSTIN - The Young Conservatives of Texas featured U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay in a mailing to Fort Bend County voters meant to influence the 2002 Republican primary runoff, but the mailer actually was paid for by a political committee created by DeLay.
Lawyers suing Texans for a Republican Majority seized on the mailing in state district court Tuesday as an example of how TRMPAC tried to hide its fund-raising and spending in the 2002 legislative elections.
Among other claims, five losing Democratic candidates contend TRMPAC violated state election laws by not fully disclosing to the Texas Ethics Commission corporate money it raised and spent in the elections to help defeat them.
DeLay, R-Sugar Land, called the lawsuit "frivolous" during a Washington news conference.
"I'm not watching it (the trial) at all," DeLay said.
"That's a group of losers that are trying to get rich quick and using the Texas legal system for their own political purposes," he said. "They have decided to use the court system to override the will of the people of Texas."
Evidence of the DeLay mailing came out during testimony by Austin printer Bob Thomas, whose Thomas Graphics does printing and mailing for Republican candidates.
Thomas said he produced a postcard for the Young Conservatives of Texas to be sent out in the House District 28 Republican runoff in DeLay's home territory of Fort Bend County. He said the postcard featured DeLay.
"It said he was not endorsing in a race," Thomas said.
Thomas said he sent a bill of $4,000.10 to the Young Conservatives of Texas. He said that group could not pay the bill so TRMPAC paid it.
Attorney Cris Feldman, representing the Democratic plaintiffs, said because of that there was no way for voters to know who was really paying for the political mailer or that it was paid for with corporate funds the plaintiffs claim were illegal under state law.
Republican political consultant Todd Smith said the mailing went out after GOP runoff candidate Gary Gates put out a communication in the district that he was supported in the race by the Young Conservatives and DeLay.
Smith, who worked for winning candidate Glenn Hegar Jr., of Katy, said he contacted the Young Conservatives, the Republican Party of Texas and TRMPAC to try to set the record straight.
"Glenn Hegar was running in a district represented by Tom DeLay. So if that inaccuracy was allowed to stand, it could be devastating to our campaign," Smith said.
Smith said he never saw the mailing but "the message was Tom DeLay has not endorsed Gary Gates, so don't think he has." Smith said DeLay never endorsed either Gates or Hegar in the runoff.
Also testifying Tuesday was Texas Association of Business President Bill Hammond.