AUSTIN, Texas – Several e-mails point to Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's (search) involvement in corporate fund-raising for a political action committee under investigation for alleged election violations, Democrats contend.
The e-mails were from Warren M. RoBold, an indicted fund-raiser for Texans for Republican Majority (search) and DeLay's national political action committee.
The e-mails were entered into evidence in a civil trial last week focusing on the Texas committee's activities in the 2002 state legislative elections.
Cris Feldman, one of the attorneys for the Democrats suing in the civil case, said Wednesday the documents show DeLay was heavily involved in the committee's fund-raising.
"Everyone's known DeLay was involved," Feldman said. "We were surprised to see the extent he was involved in regards to corporate contributors."
In one e-mail from August 2002, RoBold tells John Colyandro, the Texas committee's executive director, to create a "top 10 list of givers" he could ask for a large contribution.
"I would then decide from response who Tom DeLay others should call. If this is more successful, I will do more of them," the e-mail said.
In a September 2002 e-mail between RoBold and Drew Maloney, a Washington lobbyist and former legislative director for DeLay in the House, Maloney said he had two checks from Reliant Energy. "Will deliver to T.D. next week probably," the e-mail said.
In Washington, DeLay said the civil case showed only that he took an interest in the committee he helped create.
"Yes, it was my idea. It was our idea - those of us that wanted to enhance the Republicans that served in the House of Representatives and in the Texas Legislature came up with this idea," he said. "They took the idea and ran with it. I was on the advisory board."
DeLay said that, as an adviser, he agreed the committee should set up a separate account for corporate and campaign contributions: "I thought that was a good idea."
The use of corporate money for political campaigns is illegal in Texas, but it is allowed to cover committee administrative costs. Republicans and Democrats have been feuding over the definition of administrative costs.
Republican victories in 2002 gave the Texas House its first GOP majority since the 1870s - and helped push through a redistricting plan that resulted in a commanding GOP advantage in the state's congressional delegation.
Five Democrats who lost elections filed a civil lawsuit, contending TRMPAC used $600,000 in corporate money for political purposes and didn't report the money to the Texas Ethics Commission (search), all in violation of state election codes.
RoBold was one of three people indicted by a grand jury in September in a separate criminal investigation into the actions of the political committee. Colyandro also is under indictment in the grand jury investigation.
DeLay has denied wrongdoing and accused the Democratic county prosecutor of pursing a politically motivated criminal investigation.