TOM DELAY, IDIOT….As you’ll recall, in Texas it’s illegal for corporations to contribute money to election campaigns. The reason Tom DeLay is in hot water these days is because his political action committee, TRMPAC, evaded that law by collecting $190,000 from corporations, sending it to the Republican National Committee, and then having the RNC send the same amount back to its favored candidates in local races. It was a pretty transparent attempt at money laundering.
The million-dollar question, though, is whether DeLay himself knew about and approved of this plan. Back when prosecutor Ronnie Earle first brought charges against DeLay, I wondered aloud what kind of witnesses Earle had. Did someone at TRMPAC squeal on DeLay? Did one of the corporate contributors involved in the plan knuckle under?
It turns out the answer is none of the above. Apparently, DeLay himself made the admission during a conversation with Earle:
DeLay said he was also generally aware of a plan to shift money between Texas and Washington. It called for pulling together $190,000, sending it up to Washington and getting the same amount sent back to Texas for state election campaigns.
According to matching accounts provided separately by the sources, DeLay was asked whether such a deal happened and responded yes. Asked if he knew beforehand that the deal was going to happen, DeLay said yes. Asked how he knew, DeLay said that his longtime political adviser, [James] Ellis, came into his office, told him it was planned and asked DeLay what he thought. DeLay told Earle that he recalled saying, “Fine.” He added that he knew it was corporate money but said it was fine because he thought it was legal.
This is bizarre. DeLay knew that Earle believed the plan to be illegal. Even if he disagreed, why would he admit to knowing anything about it? What good could that possibly do him?
Anyway, it turns out that DeLay’s admission is the only evidence Earle has against him. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I sure hope DeLay has fired whatever lawyer told him it was OK to chat about this stuff with a guy who’s been trying to put him in jail for the past three years.