Image: Tom DeLay
Charles Dharapak  /  AP
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.
updated 9/8/2005 3:51:13 PM ET 2005-09-08T19:51:13

A grand jury has indicted a political action committee formed by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and a Texas business group in connection with 2002 legislative campaign contributions.

The five felony indictments against the two groups were made public Thursday. Neither DeLay nor any individuals with the business group has been charged with any wrongdoing.

"All five of these indictments involve the misuse of corporate money to influence Texas elections in 2002," Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle said.

The Texans for a Republican Majority and Texas Association of Business worked together to circumvent the election code and funnel corporate money into campaigns, Earle said.

The charge against Texans for a Republican Majority alleged the committee illegally accepted a political contribution of $100,000 from the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care.

Four indictments against the Texas Association of Business include charges of unlawful political advertising, unlawful contributions to a political committee and unlawful expenditures such as those to a graphics company and political candidates.

If convicted, the two groups could face fines of up to $20,000 for each charge.

The contributions to the 21 Texas House candidates helped Republicans gain a majority in the chamber in the 2002 election.

DeLay's spokesman Kevin Madden said the congressman was not involved in the PAC's daily operations and believed that all activities were approved by the organization's lawyers.

Investigating how money was spent
Attorney Roy Minton, who represents the Texas Association of Business, said Thursday its president has met with prosecutors, explaining how the group spent about $1.7 million in corporate money for mailings to educate voters on issues. The group has said its mailings did not advocate the election or defeat of any candidates, but were permissible issue ads.

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle is investigating whether the contributions violate state bans against corporate money being spent directly on campaign activities.

The contributions to the 21 Texas House candidates helped Republicans gain a majority in the chamber in the 2002 election.

A grand jury last fall indicted three officials with Texans for a Republican Majority. John Colyandro and Jim Ellis each were accused of one count of money laundering. Colyandro also faces 13 counts of unlawful acceptance of a corporate political contribution.

Washington fundraiser Warren Robold was indicted on charges of accepting or making corporate donations. All are now awaiting trial.

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