Much attention will be paid this week to arguments before the Supreme Court regarding the display of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Texas Capitol. Of more importance to me will be opening arguments in a civil case here in Travis County, Texas, in which Democrats who lost to Republican candidates who received illegal corporate donations funnelled to them by Tom DeLay’s TRM-PAC seek redress.
The Democrats allege Bill Ceverha, a former state House Republican who is now treasurer of the Texans for a Republican Majority political action committee, or TRMPAC, conspired to illegally collect and spend about $600,000 in corporate contributions that targeted them in their races.
Texas law bans the use of corporate money to influence the outcome of an election but allows its use for administrative costs for political committees, such as rent or utility bills.
The Democrats also allege that corporate contributions were not properly reported to the Texas Ethics Commission.
“The question in this case is whether secret, undisclosed corporations are going to control the political process through large campaign contributions,” said Cris Feldman, one of the attorneys for the five Democrats.
Evidence that may emerge in this week’s civil trial could affect an ongoing criminal investigation into 2002 legislative election spending. That investigation has resulted in indictments against three top fund-raisers for U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
Look for evidence offered in this civil suit to find its way into Travic County DA Ronnie Earle’s prosecution of DeLay’s cronies, and hopefully an indictment of the Bugman himself.