The Austin Chronicle

https://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2008-04-11/610889/

Indictments Pending: TRMPAC, TAB, and the Travis Co. D.A.

April 11, 2008, News

The following brief summaries are based upon information provided by the Travis Co. district attorney's office. They describe, in general terms, the current status of legal actions against former U.S. House Majority Leader Rep. Tom DeLay and his associates in the Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee, the Americans for a Republican Majority, other related groups and separate but related legal actions concerning the Texas Association of Business. – M.K. and J.S.

'The State of Texas v. John Colyandro, James Ellis, and Tom DeLay'

In 2005, two Travis Co. grand juries presented indictments charging John Colyandro, James Ellis, and Tom DeLay with, among other things, criminal conspiracy to violate the Election Code and the Penal Code by making illegal political contributions to candidates for the Texas House of Repre­sentatives. Colyandro, Ellis, and DeLay successfully moved to quash these charges, contending that they did not allege an offense under Texas law; the trial judge agreed and quashed the conspiracy charges. The D.A.'s office appealed.

In 2006, the 3rd Court of Appeals affirmed the trial judge's decision. The D.A.'s office filed a petition for discretionary review; the Court of Crimin­al Appeals granted review and, in June 2007, affirmed the 3rd Court's decision upholding the trial judge's decision. The D.A.'s office filed a motion for rehearing, denied last September. This ended the appellate process for the conspiracy charges/indictments against Colyandro, Ellis, and DeLay.

This left the D.A.'s office going to trial on the remaining indictments/charges against the three. However, back in 2005, Colyandro and Ellis had filed pretrial writs of habeas corpus challenging these charges on constitutional grounds of overbreadth, etc., in the 3rd Court of Appeals. That halted prosecution of the remaining Colyandro and Ellis charges. Oral argument on those writs was heard by the 3rd Court of Appeals in August 2006; the court's decision is pending. DeLay's attorney indicated that he might file a similar pretrial writ, so the parties are awaiting the 3rd Court of Appeals' decision before proceeding with the trial of DeLay.

'The State of Texas v. the Texas Association of Business'

The first indictment against TAB contained three counts, charging TAB with making prohibited corporate expenditures (one count for mailers, one count for TV ads, and one count for mailers done in the name of the Law Enforcement Alli­ance of America). After much pretrial debate, in June 2006, Judge Mike Lynch dismissed the first indictment against TAB, and the D.A.'s office did not appeal. The D.A.'s office sought to reindict, including spelling out how TAB coordinated these political expenditures with PACs involved in the election effort (Business and Commerce PAC, Texans for a Republican Majority PAC, and Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC). A Travis Co. grand jury reindicted TAB on this new seven-count indictment.

A new motion to quash and more pretrial debate followed. Judge Lynch dismissed this new indictment on Aug. 31, 2007. When the D.A.'s office appealed, the 3rd Court transferred the case (for docket reasons) to the 13th Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi. The D.A.'s office filed an appellate brief on Feb. 25, citing four points of error. TAB's defense attorneys have now filed their response with the 13th Court of Appeals – a few days late; at press time, the 13th Court had not yet made a decision to accept the untimely brief.

Another indictment is pending, covering 28 counts charging TAB as a party to the making of prohibited corporate contributions to a de facto PAC, Strategic Partners. Also pending is an indictment charging TAB with making prohibited contributions to their political action committee, BACPAC, by paying Executive Director Bill Hammond's salary with TAB's corporate money while he was doing BACPAC work that involved expressly advocating for the election of candidates endorsed by BACPAC.

Individual Cases Pending

John Colyandro (executive director, TRMPAC)

Originally indicted on 18 counts; three, involving conspiracy charges, dismissed by judge. Remaining 15 indictments awaiting appellate action by the 3rd Court of Appeals on filing by Colyandro and Ellis in 2005.

James Ellis (executive director, ARMPAC)

Originally indicted on five counts; three dismissed by judge (see above). The other two indictments awaiting appellate action by the 3rd Court of Appeals.

Tom DeLay (U.S. representative, R-Sugar Land)

Two indictments; judge dismissed the conspiracy portions of those indictments (see above). Trial on remaining charges awaiting appellate action by the 3rd Court of Appeals.

Warren RoBold (Americans for a Republican Majority PAC and TRMPAC fundraiser)

Nine indictments, for violating corporate fund prohibition in Texas legislative elections. Case is pending and awaiting appellate action by the 3rd Court of Criminal Appeals on pretrial motions.

TRMPAC related entities

Indictments of TRMPAC, Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care, Bacardi, Cracker Barrel, Diversified Collection Services, Questerra, Sears, Westar, and the Williams Companies. Cracker Barrel, Diversified Collection Services, Questerra, and Sears settled and complied with the D.A.'s requirements, and the indictments were dismissed. Westar, Alliance for Quality Nursing Care, Williams Companies, and Bacardi are all still pending, awaiting appellate action on habeas corpus challenge. TRMPAC was charged as an association and has since dissolved; some issues unresolved because the other TAB indictment is still on appeal (see above).

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