A Texas grand jury added new indictments yesterday to criminal charges against U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's top political fundraiser and the executive director of a Texas political action committee that DeLay organized to orchestrate a Republican takeover of the Texas House in 2002.
The grand jury alleged that James W. Ellis, who has raised money for DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority political action committee (ARMPAC) as well as for an offshoot known as Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC), illegally contributed $190,000 in corporate funds to the Republican National Committee within 60 days of the 2002 state election.
It also alleged that Ellis and John Colyandro, TRMPAC's director at the time, conspired to deliver the funds to Terry Nelson, the Republican National Committee's deputy chief of staff, and that they supplied Nelson with the names of Texas Republican House candidates who eventually received the funds.
Ellis and Colyandro were indicted in 2004 on state money-laundering charges related to the same transaction, which had the effect of pumping corporate money into races that were barred from receiving them by state law. Both men have denied any wrongdoing.
Last week, the same grand jury indicted the Texas committee for having funneled the $190,000 and additional corporate money into Republican campaign coffers, a violation of Texas election law that bars corporate contributions to state campaigns.
Ronald Earle, the Travis County district attorney overseeing the investigation, is laboring under an end-of-the-month deadline to bring forward most indictments related to fundraising for the election due to the three-year statute of limitations governing such crimes.
His probe has led to charges against three individuals, eight corporations, TRMPAC and the Texas Association of Business.
-- R. Jeffrey Smith