Texas Indictment Update: Why Tom Craddick is Worried

From Holden:

Tom Craddick, the republican speaker of the Texas House who oversaw the illegal redistricting of Texas’ congressional districts, must be having some sleepless nights:

At the gourmet restaurant Anthony’s, near the Galleria in Houston, a chief executive for one of the state’s largest nursing home chains passed a $100,000 corporate check to state House Speaker candidate Tom Craddick just days before the 2002 election.

[snip]

The check, from a group of 14 of the nation’s largest nursing home companies, was made out to Texans for a Republican Majority, the political action committee at the center of Tuesday’s felony indictments.

At a public event Wednesday in his hometown of Midland, Craddick disputed the insinuation that he was collecting money for the PAC.

“I wasn’t down there collecting anything,” Craddick said. “I was just down there (in Houston) visiting with these people on their issues — election issues — and they gave it to me.”

[snip]

On Tuesday, a Travis County grand jury indicted the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care Inc., the group of 14 nursing home companies, on a charge of making an unlawful political contribution by a corporation. John Colyandro, the PAC’s executive director at the time of the election, was indicted because he accepted the $100,000 contribution.

[snip]

Last year Steve Guillard, the Boston-based chairman of the alliance, said the group sent $100,000 to Texas less than three weeks before the election because its Texas members were interested in the pending legislative debate over limiting the legal liability of companies, including nursing homes.

Asked why the alliance felt it needed to give the money to Craddick if it was intended for the Texas PAC, Hilley said, “That’s a good question.”

It’s not the first time Craddick or his staff handled PAC money.

Colyandro sent $152,000 in noncorporate donations, intended for Republican House candidates, to Craddick’s Midland office. That money then was sent to the candidates. Those candidates, once elected, voted for Craddick for House speaker.

Craddick has said he had already secured enough pledges from House members to become speaker before the $152,000 was routed through his office.

State law forbids outside groups from trying to influence a speaker’s race in which only House members can vote. It also prohibits a candidate from accepting outside help.

[snip]

In fact, Craddick talked to Kevin Brannon, a consultant for Texans for a Republican Majority who was evaluating the chances of Republican House candidates, 32 times during the final six weeks of the campaign, according to court documents. Craddick also raised donations for the group with his longtime friend Bill Ceverha, a former Dallas lawmaker who later helped Craddick set up the speaker’s office.

Other court documents show contributors sent money to Texans for a Republican Majority at Craddick’s behest.