The DeLay Political Machine is destroying itself.
Travis County prosecutors continued looking for more Washington links to buttress their money-laundering case against U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, particularly any connection to indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle on Thursday subpoenaed records involving a $500,000 contribution of corporate money from the National Republican Congressional Committee in 1999 to the now-defunct U.S. Family Network, a nonprofit group founded by former DeLay chief of staff Ed Buckham.
This week, Earle subpoenaed some of Abramoff’s clients and past employers’ records.
Last year, the Federal Election Commission fined the National Republican Congressional Committee $280,000 for improperly using corporate money to pay for radio ads criticizing Democrats in the 2000 congressional elections.
The National Republican Congressional Committee ostensibly gave the $500,000, one of its largest donations to an outside group, because Buckham’s network would advocate for traditional family values.
Instead, Americans for Economic Growth, a nonprofit corporation that Ellis had done work for, used more than half the $500,000 for two radio spots accusing Democratic members of Congress of raiding the Social Security surplus to pay for “foreign aid and big government programs.”
Ellis heads DeLay’s Washington fundraising committee, has managed his campaigns and consulted with DeLay’s Texas associates on how to win the 2002 state races.
The GOP committee initially turned down Buckham’s request for the money. It later gave him the $500,000 without approval of the organization’s executive committee and without all the usual signatures by the GOP committee’s leadership.
“The NRCC representative who hand-delivered the check to Mr. Buckham made statements at the time to the effect that the NRCC did not want to know how the funds would be used,” the FEC stated.
The FEC order did not identify who delivered the check.
Travis County prosecutors apparently became interested in the 1999 transaction after The Washington Post reported that U.S. Family Network was almost entirely financed by corporations linked to Abramoff, a Washington lobbyist who pleaded guilty this week to multiple federal charges as part of a federal investigation into possible corruption of Congress.