AUSTIN — Two associates of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay were indicted Tuesday on additional felony charges of violating Texas election law and criminal conspiracy to violate election law for their role in the 2002 legislative races.
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The indictment was the latest from a grand jury investigating the use of corporate money in the campaigns that gave Republicans control of the Texas House.
In Texas, state law prohibits using corporate contributions to advocate the election or defeat of state candidates.
The two men indicted Tuesday, Jim Ellis, who heads Americans for a Republican Majority, and John Colyandro, former executive director of Texans for a Republican Majority, already faced charges of money laundering in the case. Colyandro also faces 13 counts of unlawful acceptance of a corporate political contribution.
The money laundering charges stem from $190,000 in corporate funds that were sent to the Republican National Party, which then spent the same amount on seven candidates for the Texas Legislature.
Joe Turner, representing Colyandro, said attorneys for the Republican National Committee examined and cleared all the questioned transactions.
“We don’t believe a crime was ever committed,” Turner said.
Once DeLay helped Republicans win control of the state Legislature in 2002, the majority leader engineered a Republican redistricting plan that gave the state’s U.S. House delegation a 21-11 majority in the current Congress.
No charges for DeLay
DeLay was admonished by the House ethics committee on three matters last year, including what the panel said was improperly getting the Federal Aviation Administration to intervene in a state political dispute. The dispute involved tracking down Democratic legislators who fled the state to avoid voting on the redistricting plan.
DeLay has not been charged in the criminal case in Texas, though he has close ties to individuals and groups that have been.
Americans for a Republican Majority is DeLay’s national fund-raising committee, and he helped create Texans for a Republican Majority.
Last week, the Travis County grand jury also issued five felony indictments against Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee, which was formed by DeLay, and the Texas Association of Business. The indictments alleged the illegal use of corporate money for political influence.
Money laundering is a first-degree felony punishable by 5 to 99 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
The two alleged violations of the Election Code are third-degree felonies punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. The criminal conspiracy count could draw six months to 2 years in state jail time and a fine up to $10,000.
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