Tom DeLay’s name is popping up in testimony during the civil suit against Texans for a Republican Majority PAC (aka TRMPAC) treasurer Bill Ceverha.
The testimony has made it clear, however, that political operatives close to Mr. DeLay approved the use of money gathered from large corporations for polling, phone banks and candidate mailings in the 2002 state elections. Republicans took control of the Texas Legislature in the elections, a victory that had national implications because Republican leaders here eventually redrew Congressional districts to solidify Republican control of the House.
The prosecutor who led the criminal investigation, Ronnie Earle, the district attorney of Travis County, which includes most of Austin, the state capital, said in an interview on Wednesday that his office was monitoring the civil trial for information that might be of use in his inquiry.
Asked whether Mr. DeLay was under scrutiny by a grand jury, Mr. Earle replied: “I have not said whether Mr. DeLay is or is not a target of any investigation by this office. I have said that anyone who committed a crime is a target of this investigation.”
While Mr. DeLay has said he has nothing to fear from Mr. Earle’s investigation, he has been gathering donations for a legal defense fund to deal with the grand jury inquiry. In Washington on Tuesday, Mr. DeLay described the civil trial here as “frivolous” and said, “I’m not watching it at all.”
He has accused Mr. Earle, a Democrat who was first elected district attorney in 1976, of a partisan witch hunt intended to “criminalize politics” in Texas. Mr. Earle said on Wednesday that being accused of partisanship by Mr. DeLay was “like being called ugly by a frog.”