As I mentioned earlier one of the eight corporations indicted by a Texas grand jury yesterday for alleged illegal contributions to Tom DeLay’s TRM-PAC is Westar Energy, Inc. Westar Energy’s overt bribery of GOP congressmen is a big piece of Rep. Chris Bell’s ethics complaint against DeLay. Public Citizen has been all over this story from the beginning. Here’s a portion of their account of the scandal:
A Special Committee of the Board of Directors of Westar Energy, the largest electric utility in Kansas, in May 2003 released internal documents of prior Westar management uncovered in investigations of fraud and other offenses. These documents include Exhibits 236 and 237, internal memoranda and emails describing a program for campaign contributions, allegedly requested by specific Members of Congress to be made by Westar executives to Members of Congress or to their designees, in order for Westar to obtain an exemption from regulation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under the Investment Company Act, a statute for the protection of stock purchasers.
The campaign contributions requested in the communications were in fact made by the indicated Westar executives to those recipients named in the communications, according to Federal Election Commission and IRS filings. The requested Westar exemption was in fact inserted into the House comprehensive energy bill during conference committee by one of the Members of Congress discussed in the communications. In addition, seven other representatives, including some of those mentioned in the communications, gave their proxy votes to defeat a motion to delete the Westar exemption. Public Citizen believes that these facts, as laid out in detail below, constitute a prima facie case of possible violations of the bribery statutes, more than sufficient to warrant further investigation by the Department of Justice and requests such investigations.
And here are a few lines from an internal Westar memo, subject: “Campaign Contributions”, dated May 20 2002.
Right now, we are working on getting out grandfather provision on PUHCA repeal into the senate version of the energy bill. It requires working with the Conference committee to achieve. We have a plan for participation to get a seat at the table, which has been approved by David [Westar CEO David Wittig] the [sic] total package will be $31,500 in hard money (individual), and $25,000 in soft money (corporate). Right now, we have $11,500 in immediate needs for a group of candidates associated with Tom Delay, Billy Tauzin, Joe Barton and Senator Richard Shelby.
Delay is the House Majority Leader. His agreement is necessary before the House Conferees can push the language we have in place in the House Bill.
With any luck Westar’s indictment in Texas will advance both the House Ethics Committe investigation of DeLay as well as any future investigatin by the Kerry Justice Department.