House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) doesn't want to talk about a Texas grand jury's probe that includes questions about the operations of "Texans for a Republican Majority," a political action committee he helped found.
Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle is looking into whether a group called the Texas Association of Business illegally used corporate money. The Republican group mimicked one of the business group's fundraising mailers on behalf of a state representative, which apparently is what has drawn the prosecutor's interest.
When asked about the investigation at his weekly briefing yesterday, DeLay responded, "That's not on the agenda. Sorry."
Jim Ellis, who directs the national Americans for a Republican Majority PAC as well as Texans for a Republican Majority, said there was no coordination between the Texas PAC and the Texas Association of Business.
"These people in the D.A.'s office simply didn't know the law," Ellis said. He acknowledged that Earle's office had interviewed the former head of the Texans for a Republican Majority PAC, John Colyandro, but he said it did not mean the group was under investigation. Colyandro has gotten immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying before the grand jury probing the business association.
Vulnerable, but in the Money
House Republicans last night gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to their most vulnerable colleagues. At a Retain Our Majority Program fundraiser, GOP lawmakers gave about $100,000 each to first-term Reps. Bob Beauprez (Colo.), Ginny Brown-Waite (Fla.), Max Burns (Ga.), Chris Chocola (Ind.), Jim Gerlach (Penn.), Phil Gingrey (Ga.), Steve Pearce (N.M.), Jon Porter (Nev.). Rick Renzi (Ariz.) and Mike Rogers (Ala.). For those counting, this was the seventh ROMP fest.
Ellis, who helps organize ROMP as well as overseeing DeLay's national committee, said all the money was coming directly from Republican House members. "It helps incumbents in the most competitive races prepare for the next election," he said. "It's members helping members."
At a more traditional fundraiser last week -- the annual spring dinner -- the GOP House campaign organization raised about $5 million. Last night it was the Democrats' turn for a spring dinner, although their goal was a more modest $2 million. The entertainment was subdued because of the war in Iraq, and the band was asked to play "God Bless America."
The National Republican Senatorial Committee felt less constrained at its fundraiser last night. The headliner was the Godfather of Soul, James ("Sex Machine") Brown. No word on what he planned to perform for GOP supporters.