Tidbits from the campaign trail
Now that Texas has taken on prominence in the Democratic presidential primary, Texans for Obama is opening an actual office. The grand opening is Saturday at 10am at 816 Congress. – Lee Nichols
At press time, Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Ray McMurrey of Corpus Christi and state Sen. Rick Noriega of Houston were scheduled for a debate on the UT campus. Check our News blog at austinchronicle.com/newsdesk for a recap. – L.N.
Texans for Public Justice has asked Travis Co. District Attorney Ronnie Earle to investigate whether Speaker Tom Craddick used a political action committee to funnel cash illegally to the election campaigns of three state reps. On Jan. 10, the Tom Craddick campaign fund donated $250,000 to the Texas Jobs & Opportunity Build a Secure Future Inc. (Texas Jobs PAC), its first received contribution since June 2006, when it was known as the Texas Free Enterprise Fund. The next day, the PAC cut $50,000 checks to the campaigns of Aaron Pena, D-Edinburg; Kevin Bailey, D-Houston; and Kino Flores, D-Mission, all of whom have been criticized for their close links to Craddick. In its Feb. 11 letter to Earle, TPJ said that, as the "sole and ultimate source of the contributions," Craddick had violated the Texas Government Code by making a donation to these House campaigns while speaker and that he and Texas Jobs violated the election code by having the PAC make the payment for him. Craddick was not the only high-profile donor to the PAC: Longtime GOP moneyman Bob Perry, school vouchers advocate James Mansour, and tort reformist Michael Stevens each gave $25,000, after the three contribution checks had been cut. – R.W.