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Prosecutor Balks When Asked If DeLay Is Target of Tex. Probe

Colyandro said Ellis came up with the idea for the committee and discussed it with him in mid-2001. Colyandro is a veteran political consultant with deep ties to the Republican Party in Texas and nationwide. Ellis is the executive director of DeLay's national political action committee in Washington, which is called Americans for a Republican Majority.

In a video deposition played Wednesday by Ceverha's defense attorneys, Colyandro said Texans for a Republican Majority "was modeled only in passing" after Americans for a Republican Majority. He said he and Ellis named an advisory board that included DeLay, then-Texas Railroad Commissioner Tony Garza (currently U.S. ambassador to Mexico), and Ceverha.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) wants to keep public focus on President Bush's second-term agenda. (Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)

Colyandro said he did not remember speaking to DeLay during the formative stages of TRMPAC. "There were never any discussions of this being Mr. DeLay's idea," he said. But after TRMPAC's "official launch" in early fall 2001, Colyandro said, "I had one or two conference calls with DeLay," which he said involved a "general discussion of what the organization would be and what he hoped to accomplish."

Ceverha's attorney, Terry Scarborough, said during closing arguments there was no evidence presented to show that DeLay had created TRMPAC.

But Cris Feldman, attorney for the plaintiffs, remained steadfast that TRMPAC was formed and advised by DeLay. He said many of the exhibits used in the trial showed "that Tom DeLay, at his direction, had his operatives come down here and set up Texans for a Republican Majority. Heck, Jim Ellis was in the New York Times saying, 'I set this up for Tom DeLay.' I don't know what the question is about it."

Evidence showed that DeLay was featured at some of TRMPAC's fund-raising events, primarily those targeting large corporations.

The judge is not expected to rule for several weeks.

Moreno reported from Austin.

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