Two associates of Rep. Tom DeLay were released Friday on $10,000 personal bonds as their attorneys indicated they may split from their former boss on legal strategy.
Lawyers for defendants Jim Ellis and John Colyandro are pressing in Texas appeals courts to have their charges dismissed before going to trial. They made it clear Friday they would be willing to wait weeks or months for those appellate decisions.
DeLay’s attorneys, however, have said they want his trial as soon as possible.
Ellis, Colyandro and DeLay all are awaiting trial in a case in which a prosecutor alleges a scheme to circumvent Texas' ban on corporate money for 2002 political campaigns.
The posting of bonds came a day after it was learned that DeLay is being forced to turn over home and campaign phone records from the period he is charged with conspiring to launder illegal corporate donations. A later auto purchase also is being investigated.
Attorneys for Ellis and Colyandro asked State District Judge Bob Perkins Friday to rule on their motion seeking proof of an alleged document that detailed the names of Texas legislative candidates who were to receive contributions from the Republican National Committee. Defense attorneys questioned whether the document exists.
Perkins said he would consider the motion Nov. 8.
Charges separate from previous indictments
The judge also clarified Friday that the latest indictments against the men — alleging criminal conspiracy — were new charges and did not supersede previous indictments.
Ellis and Colyandro were indicted last year on a money laundering charge. Then on Sept. 28 they were indicted on the conspiracy to violate the election code charge, and on Oct. 3 on the conspiracy to launder money charge. On Oct. 3 they also were indicted on a money laundering charge that superseded last year’s money laundering charge.
Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle had issued subpoenas Thursday for DeLay’s phone records and for similar records from his daughter, Danielle DeLay Ferro. Earle also subpoenaed financial information about a minivan he alleges DeLay purchased, but that DeLay’s lawyer says was leased.
DeLay denies any wrongdoing. However, he was obligated to temporarily step aside as majority leader when charged. DeLay is scheduled to appear to face conspiracy and money laundering charges Oct. 21 in Austin.
The subpoenas list telephone numbers, but not whom they belong to. They ask for information about the calls and the numbers’ subscribers, voice mail service, billing information, long-distance calls made from or charged to the numbers and special features.
Earle also wants Toyota Motor Credit Corp. of Torrance, Calif. to turn over records on a 2004 Toyota Sienna Earle alleges was bought by DeLay.
DeLay’s attorney Bill White said Earle appeared to be trying to find out what kind of contact DeLay had with Ellis and Colyandro. He said DeLay did not purchase the minivan. It was leased in 2003 for the campaign.
“It seems to me he should have been doing it the last three years. Now is a little late to start checking on his evidence,” White said.
Earle’s office declined to comment on the subpoenas. He has said the investigation is continuing.
Records sought for fund-raising period
Earle is seeking the records and information from Sept. 1, 2001, to Dec. 31, 2002, the period when a political committee founded by DeLay, Texans for a Republican Majority, was raising money for the 2002 election cycle.
The charges allege that corporate money was funneled to Texas legislative candidates in violation of state law. The candidates’ victories allowed Republicans to take over the state House and widen the GOP majority in the U.S. House.
This is not the first time a subpoena has been issued involving DeLay’s daughter, a political consultant. She was subpoenaed in early 2004 to appear before a grand jury and bring records of work she did for Texans for a Republican Majority.
Calls to one number for Ferro seeking comment went to voicemail. A man who answered a second number for her declined comment.
Earle also subpoenaed records from a phone number for Ellis’ 12-year-old daughter and for CAD Affiliates, a technology company located near Sugar Land, Texas, the Houston suburb that is DeLay’s hometown.
Ed Crowell, owner of CAD Affiliates, said DeLay’s campaign office shared a building with him once but his company was not associated with DeLay. He said he was not a contributor and has heard from DeLay only when he gets recorded campaign calls at home.
“I may have seen him in the grocery store,” Crowell said.