The Bogey Man

The Los Angeles Times has a typical story on Tom Delay as bogey man. Apparently, corporations have given money to help elect candidates in Texas. You have to read the story to find out that corporate contributions are not illegal in Texas, though they are restricted.

Texas law bans corporations from contributing money to candidates for office. Corporations are allowed to fund many ancillary costs of a political campaign, such as office rental or telephone lines, and in many cases are allowed to educate voters through advertisements and other programs, provided they do not specifically advocate a candidate’s defeat.

Texans for a Republican Majority is an offshoot of DeLay’s Americans for a Republican Majority, created in 1994 to elect conservatives to public office. The Texas group was created in 2001, with the 2002 elections in mind, using seed money from Americans for a Republican Majority.

Investigators said they suspected that the Texas group spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on telephone banks and other initiatives during the election — projects, they said, that went beyond the administrative costs corporations are allowed to fund in Texas elections. The money, in effect, represented a direct contribution to Republican candidates, they argue.

I’m no expert on Texas law, but I’ve made my way around enough state election codes to know that (1) Texas’ is poorly written and (2) corporations can start general PACs that don’t directly support a particular candidate, but can play a role in elections. Notice that it is Delay’s opponents who are saying the corporate actions are improper. It’s questionable to me, but seems as though, from my reading of the code and related opinions that, as reported, there was nothing wrong.

Republican leaders said they worked with lawyers who specialize in election law to ensure that their corporate money was used legally. They denied wrongdoing and pointed out that the force behind the investigation, Dist. Atty. Ronnie Earle of Travis County, Texas, is a Democrat. They said the investigation — and two lawsuits containing similar allegations brought by five Democrats who lost in the 2002 election — represent sour grapes among Democrats.

If you read the rest of the article, the reporter seems confused, perhaps deliberately so, by the interaction of federal BRCA and state laws. The Democrats apparently want the BRCA to apply to the state, regardless of what state law actually says. It’s another Democrat attempt to seek in court what they could not get elsewhere.